Meet the queen resurrecting queer culture on the coast
Maggie Gray | August 24, 2021
“Drag is a creative art form in which you can transform yourself into whatever you want to be.”
Nelson Baker is a six-foot-three, 29-year-old, self-described, dude with a mullet.
Natasha St James is a powerhouse performer, with impeccable winged eyeliner, and 6-inch Perspex heels.
They are the same person, and together, are making the Gold Coast gay again.
The quick-witted Gold Coaster first started out in human resources, before first getting a taste of the art form through friends.
“I was 21 when a couple of my friends said that I should give drag a go,” tells Nelson.
“I was like – that’s so gay – I’m not going to do that. There’s no way you can make this into a beautiful woman.
“Then, looking in the mirror after my friend had painted me a quick face of makeup, it just kind of hit me – I can do this.
“All of a sudden, I had an outlet for all this inner feminine energy that I had no idea what to do with.”
Today, Nelson is the Creative Director and Producer of three of the Gold Coast’s most popular shows – Dragalicious at The Avenue, Drag Queen Bingo at Miami Marketta, and Flamboyance at Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub.
Over the years, the shows have become a permanent fixture in the coast’s entertainment scene, and each week are packed full of people from all walks of life.
Nelson describes his transformation into Natasha as “an almost therapeutic process”, which can take anywhere from one to four hours to complete.
“My relationship with drag is different to other people’s,” explains Nelson.
“A lot of people are themselves when they’re in drag, whereas I keep my personality and drag personality very separate. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a split personality.
“When I’m in drag, I feel like I’m in the back seat of the car and Natasha is driving.”
“When I’m on stage, my voice changes, my demeanour changes, my body language changes. For me, I’m a character and I’m creating an experience for the audience.”
As Nelson delved deeper into the world of drag, it became increasingly apparent that the Gold Coast was lacking a space for queer culture to be celebrated.
“Our gay culture on the Gold Coast is not as strong or as tight-knit as the major cities, and there’s still a lot of people who aren’t accepting of the LGBTQI+ rainbow community,” says Nelson.
“We used to have two gay clubs here – the Meeting Place and Escape – but they were run into the ground by people who were out of touch with the gay community.
“I had so many people who were visiting the Gold Coast and asking where the gay clubs were, and I was like – sorry babe, can’t help you there!
“So, I thought, let’s create some spaces. I know my community needs it, and I knew the straight audience was eager, thanks to the growing commercialisation of drag through Ru Paul’s Drag Race on TV.
“The first thing I wanted to do was educate people and be like – hey, actually, I’m just a bro with a mullet under here!”
Nelson’s pursuit to resurrect queer culture on the coast is something the Gold Coast community is fast embracing.
“I love the Gold Coast, I’ve been here my entire life. We have a lot of opportunities here and a culture that is growing,” says Nelson.
“It took me a long time to work out that I’m literally living in one of the best places in the world.
“There’s a growing support, and we’re all trying to do our best to positively influence that.
“We say it at the start of every show – we’re here to make the Gold Coast gay again.”
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