Glamming up for the Queenstown drag race
The transformation from Graeme Todd, bulldog lawyer to drag queen Miss Tess Terown began with a thick caking of makeup and rugby chat amongst other contestants in the Queenstown Winter Festival drag race.
As the owner of law firm GTodd Law, Todd is force in the courtroom well known, regarded and respected for his tenacious style and smooth oratory skills. As a drag queen he has previous, but limited, experience.
"I entered in 2002, it was a bit different because we had to have half a dozen compulsory shots before the race," he said.
Approaching 60, Todd is well aware speed won't be his winning factor, but will make up for it with style and wit.
"For somebody of my stature and build, the outfit takes a lot of consideration."
Taking out a pair of size 12 patent court high heels, plus a bright red pair of flats, fishnets, feather boa, petticoat and matching hot pink cami bra and knicker set, he also shows off some $2 Shop bling.
"You've gotta add a bit of flair," he reckons.
As the 15 other contestants get ready - amongst them a district councillor, head of southern iwi Ngai Tahu tourism arm, and Destination Queenstown head honcho Graeme Budd - beers get downed and the friendly chat takes on elements of smack talk. Accusations of one contestant sunbedding are denied, saying he's just got back from Bali.
As things fire up Todd gets dressed, but among the banter misses putting on his petticoat, then abandons donning it.
"It's not structural. Everything's tucked in nicely."
He's forgotten a bra filler, so someone is organised to do a $2 Shop run for balloons.
Todd is slightly nervous, and one of the ladies in the green room is seconded to paint his nails, as his shaking hands might ruin the finishing touches.
The race itself is divided into heats. There's cheering crowds, lots of flirting with hosts and judges, and a mad dash around an obstacle course.
The hours of preparation cumulates in 30 minutes of showtime, and Todd doesn't get the title of Miss Personality he was gunning for - however, he remains keen for another go.
"It was an amazing experience and I hope to be back, but not for a while. I didn't win, but I think I had the highest heels."
The Southland Times