Ron New - Queen of the Whole Universe

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[00:00:00] This podcast is brought to you by the queen of the whole universe Charitable Trust of in Toronto, and pride in So Ron, you've just brought this wonderful photo album out of some of the performances of Queen of the whole universe. And, wow, some great book and costumes there. It's a very title costume. [00:00:25] So I thought I'd show you the very, very first year. So this was, I formed as a kingdom warrior. And as you can see, there's very little clothing. [00:00:40] So [00:00:42] really, it's just to give you an idea on on, on how the boys look, because you're going to see a lot of the girls. [00:00:51] But mother came along, [00:00:54] for several years running have been in the paper with it, which is absolutely fantastic. But also thought I'd show you the most recent one, you can, you know, see, through some of the shots, you know, just how awful the theater really is, you know, with the opening sequences, [00:01:16] when you look back at some of these earlier photos, what are your thoughts? Look, I just, [00:01:23] I'm so proud of myself, you know, it's, you know, to go from someone who is, you know, relatively shy to look at these and see and see myself on stage. You know, I'm just, I'm just so proud of the, of what I've done, and how far I've come with it. [00:01:45] So your first entry into the show? How did that happen? Where did Where did that come from. [00:01:52] And my first entry really was being an audience and the member in that very, very first show, and I just thought it was so much fun. And, and I just wanted to be part of it. You know, it's a bit the fact that it was a fundraising event was almost secondary on that I just wanted to be part of what was a real fun, a fun show. Plus, it's also a chance to be a little bit of an extrovert, you know, when I people will argue this with me, but I tend to be a little introverted. So getting on stage is tasks to be an absolute extrovert. So, I just approached Jonathan, after seeing the first show and asked to be part of it. I have performed with Jonathan in the past. And one of the hero prides you know, we did ballet down down Ponsonby road. So I do know that he is a he's extremely organized and he knows how to pull things together. But he's just so much fun to work with. [00:03:05] So apart from the parade, have you done any other kind of performance work? [00:03:10] That we always perform? [00:03:16] You know, not not really you know, I can pit might dispute this, you know, I get up and perform sometimes ad hoc. you a little bit of alcohol. But No, probably not lots of school. [00:03:29] And so the first time in the pageant, were you going there as a girl or a boy? How did that work? [00:03:35] Like the first time it was is definitely as a boy. I have a little bit of fear of drag. [00:03:43] So please don't ask me to delve into that. So the first time I I just wanted to be a boy I wanted to be myself and and and yeah, that really was my entry. Because I worked my ass off to to have a slightly more cut body and I wanted to show it. [00:04:02] So what do boys doing the pageant? [00:04:06] Boys? What are they doing the pageant? Gosh, what don't we do? [00:04:12] The boys do a lot of dancing, a lot of running around. We were actually extremely active. We've seen a lot, but we tend not to be in the forefront because it was really about the girls and the countries. We help the girls a lot. In the Parade of Nations, we escort them on and off. It is partly an off thing, you know, to be able to pick up things that drop off or if someone falls off a heel, you know to be able to to be able to help them. We dance in the opening and closing act and most of us actually assist one of the countries in the in the final you know in the artistic pieces you find virtually all of the boys are performing somewhere with with the final [00:04:58] x. What's your favorite outfit been as a boy? [00:05:03] Oh, my favorite outfit as a boy. [00:05:08] I would say it was the last one the purple outfit. It was a it was a waistcoat, a little purple waistcoat with black was tuxedo like trousers. Nothing underneath little bow ties. Yeah. chance to show the chest. [00:05:27] What are some of the other outfits that have that have cropped up over the years for [00:05:29] those Gosh, they've gone from regal basically wearing underwear on stage with a Totton half skirt. And a tiny little little red singlet that was the first one of Warren sequined chaps, [00:05:50] you know, with with flippers. Imagine that during the penguin dad's. [00:05:56] He's the kind of the three that stand out I'm sure have one more. [00:06:01] Probably one of the audience's [00:06:04] that will the whole thing with the boys is the army. It started off as muscle boys. But it's evolved to the boys. You know, because we're all shapes and sizes. There are girls who dresses boys, you know, boys who dresses boys, you know, so you need to accommodate everyone. [00:06:21] So it does it for all the participants, both boys and girls, the whole idea of inclusiveness and of giving it a go? Is that a big thing? It really [00:06:32] is, you know, I would say broadly, people would think of Queen of the whole universe as a gay a gay event. But it really isn't. It's inclusive of absolutely everyone. And it's surprising how many people involved in the show aren't gay, you know, you know, because it's about embracing it, it's embracing the charity, but it's embracing all parts of the community. Whether you're an immigrant, whether you're gay, you're straight, you're male or female, you know, it really doesn't matter. [00:07:09] So you mentioned charity, Has it always been a fundraising event for particular causes? [00:07:15] Absolutely. [00:07:18] It is a fund fundraising event, first and foremost, you know, and the the, the fundraising has always been for AIDS related charities, you know, so the depending on whatever is raised, it's actually split between a number of age related charities. But as important, it is about community, it's about, you know, we were talking earlier about inclusiveness about providing a place for everyone, you know, to be involved, regardless of of what your background is, you know, what, what you are who you are. [00:07:59] You mentioned before that you had a we fear of drag, and you said Don't talk to me about it. What's your fear of trade? [00:08:11] I have been a girl of the show once. So I've done it. [00:08:18] I enjoyed it, but not to the extent of of when I'm a boy, I look, I don't, I don't feel myself and drag, I had to explain it. You know, I just feel like a on this ugly imposter. [00:08:42] It's just not made, you know, I don't enjoy putting a dress on. [00:08:48] But I guess that's one of the really neat things about the pageant is that you can be either a boy or a girl and you actually, the kind of gender going into the show isn't a sort of agenda that's coming as long as [00:08:58] I'm able to travel to go, absolutely. You know, and, but the, the, the guys and girls that dress up, you know, and and I mean, they you can you can feel the energy, you know, you can they, I mean, there's almost another personality that comes out, you know, it's just so nice to see in people, you know, we're I love getting involved, and that that side of things is I really like helping them get into character, you know, I like I like helping them make the dresses and, and make their, their they hit gear and you know that that sort of thing. So I guess for me, I like helping other people find that character. Whereas, and being a boy have a little bit safer. I'm still just me. [00:09:51] But do you find that when you actually go out on stage that your personality changes? [00:09:57] Yeah, of course it does. Yeah, it's, um, be on stage. [00:10:03] You're in the spotlight. You know, you're the ultimate extrovert you feel like, like, everyone's looking at you, regardless of the fact that there's, you know, another 30 or 40 people on stage on stage. You know, it's, it's all about me, you know, at the time, you know, so yeah, and look, in real life. I don't like being the center of attention. You know, I'm, I'm one of those ones that kind of bloomed into, into the crowd, you know, stick with people I know. You don't state you don't have to do that. [00:10:32] So what does that feeling like? Actually like going on stage for the first time? What can you recall how you felt? [00:10:38] terrifying. You're not yet the you standing behind the curtain, then you can hear the crowd, you know that the audience is actually very, very loud. And I mean, the first time waiting for the curtain to open, I was almost willing not to, I was terrified your heart, basically at the bottom of my throat. But once the curtain goes up, and you basically make your first movement, and the crowd goes absolutely wild. You're in character, you know, you're in, you know, you've yet you remember what you make to do. You just go through the movements, the smile doesn't leave your face, and that whole nervousness disappears, and it's just replaced by adrenal and, you know, when the show's finished, you're out for hours. You know, you have to go out you have to party because there's so much adrenaline, you know, in your system. [00:11:37] Have you won any of the awards [00:11:39] as part of the show? f1 have won three awards. [00:11:46] One, Mr. personality, Mr. congeniality [00:11:51] Mr. Personality twice? [00:11:55] And how do you win those awards? What were the criteria? Are you a smart aleck? [00:12:01] Now I think I'm the the Mr. personality or Mr. congeniality, I mean, essentially the the same award, it's weird, the rest of the cast vote for the the boy who [00:12:18] has, [00:12:20] I guess, made made an impact, you know, whether it be helping you burn out whether it's been, you know, playing the fall, and, and, and, you know, making everyone else laugh and feel more relaxed and rehearsals and things like that, you know, it's, it's just really, you know, an award for the most popular more way. [00:12:47] When you're going on stage, do you have any, like rituals before you go out there of the things that you do? Or things that you don't do? Yep. [00:12:58] Am I have to say this on tape, we all have a shot of tequila before we go. [00:13:04] Just to calm that down. But to be honest, I'm before going on stage. [00:13:09] We're, [00:13:11] as as everyone's getting ready for makeup, we we do a little warm up. So we go on stage, and we do a run through the opening. And that's just to refresh ourselves with the stage because most of the rehearsals are actually done off site, we don't get a lot of time in the actual venue. And being in the venues very, very different than than being in a hall. That, that essentially comes everyone down, familiarize yourself with with the stage and, you know, with with just how bigger venue it is, you know, your foot when people come in. But from the air, you know, I think most of us just talk we chat we laugh and and really try and be as normal as we can before hand you're trying not to think about it. [00:13:58] The rehearsal process? Can you take me through how, like a typical rehearsal would go? What? [00:14:06] What would have the rehearsals, that that's the true commitment to the show, because it was a lot of time, people will be very surprised that rehearsals are extra only six to seven weeks. But before the show, so this is excluding the artistic performances, which which can be month to month. So Jonathan gets around together. And, and and we basically started blocks, you know, so from the first day, we everyone's falling over their feet, you know, we start in very small, small blocks, do a few steps, do it over and over and over again. And just we keep adding to it. So, you know, typical performance, sorry, typical rehearsal, which will be about two and a half hours, twice a week. It's very slow. You know, so, but, you know, what, we're really pulling together as a band I minute pace, you know, so, you know, it's it's just stepping up, stepping it stepping at, you know, it's really to cater for everyone's abilities. You know, because, look, all ages, you know, we have people on the show who are in the 60s, you know, the people who are teenagers, you know, early 20s, you know, they can move differently, move faster. And some people don't pick up the steps, you know, or take a long time to pick up the steps. [00:15:30] So, are there any entry requirements to be a participant? Is there like a base level of performance that you need, or anybody can do it? [00:15:38] Now, again, it's about inclusiveness, you know, so the, the, the prerequisite for the show, is you must be committed, you know, that really, really, is the criteria. There's no point in coming in half hearted and halfway, pulling out creating gaps, you know, that need to be filled, you know, so it's just pure commitment. [00:16:02] So you're saying that the rehearsals six to eight weeks before the performance, how much time a week would you be rehearsing? [00:16:09] So time a week would be talking around six to seven hours, you know, when we pull it together? It's always a Wednesday, and there's two and a half hours on a Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoons, whichever about four hours. Yeah, the but this is for the the main part of the show, you know, anyone involved now to stick pieces at doing that quite separately? [00:16:37] And then I guess, of course, you're you're you're creating the headgear and the costumes? I mean, that must be a huge amount of work. [00:16:44] Absolutely, absolutely. But that that would take hours and hours and hours of work, you know, you know, some people will have dressmakers helping them. Some people will have proper costuming people, I would say the greatest proportion, doing it themselves with the friends in the back of the garage, or, you know, that they won't see the lounge room, you know, for for a couple of months, you know, because they all have sewing machines and sequins and glue and all over the place. [00:17:15] These costumes and especially for good gear. I mean, it's just enormous. It's [00:17:18] not a huge, absolutely is I think the limiters two meters by two meters, something like that. And some people challenge that [00:17:28] to get bigger. Oh, yeah. [00:17:32] So what, what are some of your favorite costumes on here over the years? There's, there's so many of them. But look, I would say Easter Island and completely surprised me. In fact, two years is running different people who've done Easter Island. [00:17:51] There was one can you describe what [00:17:53] destroyed looks like [00:17:55] Israel and there was one which was basically two easter eggs, you know, one on top of the other and that was definitely two meters by two meters. It had lights all the way through it. It was decorated and flowers. When you turned it around, the back was hollow. And inside it was a luminescent penis. And the the dress that was being warned was you can think of sort of Judy Garland. So you're getting some blue button hoops, which was just outstanding. But a couple of years before that there was someone who was basically one of the Easter Island statues on the head. We didn't call it his tombstone. But again, there's a massive Easter Island here, you know, which was carved out of a foam and painted and I think it was actually done by one of the TVNZ it workshops. You know, help them do that. [00:18:58] So yeah. What about costumes any any favorite costumes? [00:19:02] Or look I I'm a little bit biased, but as far as costuming, and I'll really talk about the artistic performances here because it's really we see costuming was trapped Transylvania had some absolutely fantastic costuming with, you know, zombie vampire, you know, and how they made zombie vampire still look sexy was absolutely incredible. [00:19:29] Hot, hot or just bodies. Very good bodies. Ignore the faces. [00:19:37] Bobby porn, who actually won the first Wellington show? She did. In her piece, she had dancing kangaroos dancing emus, who became Mardi Gras lifesavers and dykes on bikes. Yeah, I'm barely porn herself. You know, basically, she had a big porno on a head. You know, but also with costuming as staging, you know, because that the staging is also done by the country who's who's performing at the time, you know, with the artistic pieces, you know, so I, you know, think about porn, who it is her own expense. And with with, with her own support group created a full on Luna Park backdrop, which was completely lit up. The mouth was basically the the entrance where characters were coming in and out, you know, it's really hard to describe in words, you know, I've got the picture in my mind, you know, but it's just tackler I'm staging. You know, that's, that's done as well. [00:20:46] So the logistics of actually moving some of these set pieces into a theater must be huge. [00:20:53] Yep, some of the stage. It's absolutely incredible. [00:20:58] The venue that you that you perform, man, you know, so in Oakland, it's the HTC into that they do have their rules and regulations, you know, so when you when you build and you see it, you, you, you need to ensure that you comply with with with those regulations, you know, obviously, the safety requirements and, and that sort of thing. We were quite lucky with the building of one of our sets, which was actually miss Morocco, four years ago, where we were able to actually build it in the back of the ETFs center. You know, this was a massive missile frame, which basically opened in in a decent backdrop into a mess of harem, you know, for full of girls and Unix. [00:21:45] So the artists into is I mean, it's a big venue, [00:21:48] it is a very, very big venue, and does it does that sell out? [00:21:53] Very, very close. My understanding is that the last three years, and Auckland, we've had an audience of around the 2000 people mark, give or take. So that that's around Africa, [00:22:08] what kind of audiences what kind of demographic, [00:22:11] I give extremely mixed, there is a large proportion of supporters, you know, some people who knows someone that's in the cast, you know, some massive entourage, you know, and they really do get behind the country that they're supporting. And there is a number of people who, who just see it as a really cool event to go to, and they're not associated to people in the cast. And it is quite heavily marketed as one of the Oakland events that's on the Oakland event calendar. And the edge promoted really, really well. You know, so, yeah, and there is also amazing support from the gay community for the show. And that support always been there from day one. [00:22:55] Yeah, that's quite interesting. I was going to ask, you know, what kind of place does the pageant have within the gay community? [00:23:04] Do you think? Look, I think [00:23:07] it, it has a [00:23:10] very solid place within the gay community. And one thing I do find in the gay community is the is a tall poppy syndrome. And unfortunately, successful, gay things do tend to get sort of chopped down a little bit. But um, the queen of the whole universe has really survived all of that, and it's, it is an iconic gay event, [00:23:33] how do you think it survived? [00:23:35] I, I think it's survived. Because every year the bar has been lifted. So it's not one of those things that just repeats itself. You know, and you think the concept, you know, of taking the Mickey out of Mr. Universe, you think it would get stale pretty quickly, but it doesn't every year, the bars lifted, you know, so the quality of performance just keeps picking up. You know, it's, it's, I see quite early in the pace semi professional, everyone that's involved is, is an amateur, you know, so there's very few people on the show, who really do have stage, or performance background, there are one or two. But the quality of the show has come to a point where people really do think that a lot of the cast are quite professional, you know, so, [00:24:28] yeah. So we're coming towards the 10th and final pageant, what are your thoughts on that? [00:24:39] Look, I, [00:24:41] I hit towards it with very, very mixed feelings, you know, my view is finish up while it's on a high, you know, don't release it get stale. So, in a way, I'm kind of pleased that it's the last one. But something needs to replace it. And, and, you know, I really, really hope that someone has a really good idea to replace the gap, it's going to leave. And the other thing, that I think the the the show was going to win the show disappears, is a whole community disappears, because the show in itself is quite a community. You know, and I offer a couple of years, you know, question whether I was going to do the next one, you know, because it is, you know, quite a quite a commitment of time and energy. But the thing that that has kept me coming back when I've kind of been dragging my heels, is that it is a community of people in its own right, you know, and there are a number of people that I only see as part of the show, and, and it's just fantastic spirit. [00:25:55] So what's the show done for you? [00:25:57] The show for me, personally, for me, is it's, it's, it's grown me as as as a person, but I have a hell of a lot more confidence. You know, and, and it wouldn't be the show in its own right. But it certainly helped out build a lot of confidence and in getting in front of people, you know, and and performing, you know, so I'll get on stage, you know, and, and present in my everyday life now, you know, and, and the, the show gives me the background for that. But it's also like, it's, it's allowed me to meet a whole lot of people would not normally have met, you know, you know, and that's within the gay community as well as, as, you know, other walks of life. The one thing that I don't think the gay community does very well is girls and boys, you know, get together and really mix and mingle. And through the show of MIT, so many girls, you know, and they just, just wonderful, wonderful people, you know, and you know, the friendships which will last forever

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.