Maxi Shield’s Guide To Sydney WorldPride

Sydney Mardi Gras WorldPride Maxi Shield

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Maxi Shield is Australian drag royalty. Gracing our presence for 24 years now, Maxi’s made a name for herself as one of Australia’s most prominent drag queens. And man, she’s been busy. She’s walked in the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics; won Entertainer of the Year at the Drag Industry Variety Awards back in 2015; performed with Madonna(!) and starred in Season One of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, too.

Just in time for Sydney WorldPride 2023 — which kicks off next Friday, February 17 — Maxi’s partnered with MINI to celebrate everyone’s ‘Big Love Story’, where she’ll be appearing at a series of Pride events. (MINI’s also offering up free tickets to the Sydney WorldPrice Opening Ceremony! Competition deets below.) In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is the very first time WorldPride hits the southern hemisphere and celebrations will of course coincide with Mardi Gras, so expect one hell of a LGBTQIA+ pride festival. 

With festivities almost upon us, we sat down with Maxi to chat all things Pride and get her tips on making the most of the celebrations.

What’s your Mardi Gras Parade Day routine?

I would start Parade Day on the Thursday. Usually, what I do is I make a great big thing of spaghetti bolognese. I also buy a whole heap of Red Bulls. Because you’re basically in and out from the Thursday to the Sunday. So if I can throw a bowl of spaghetti bolognese and scoff that down — you know?

When I first started drag in ’97, the Parade Day was just a buzz of activity. People were getting prepared and people were out, and you’re seeing the fabulousness before it sort of slides down that hill on the Sunday. So I love to be in part of that sort of the community buzz before having to get ready [on the day].

Tell us about your first Mardi Gras. Is there anything you’d tell your younger self about the celebrations? 

I think I would say to her: we don’t have to wear high heels and walk the whole route of Mardi Gras.

What’s in your bag on Mardi Gras?

I usually take a big bag. A few years ago, I would’ve been wearing heels with flats in my bag. Now that’s non-negotiable. I am in the flats, there’s no heels. Or maybe I’ll put heels in a handbag for photos.

I always put in deodorant. I always put in mints. Not mince — mints, with a ‘T’, right. No spaghetti this time. As well as your beauty things: your powder, your lipstick. And if I’ve got a wig on, then spirit gum to glue it down.

Are you taking photos or in the moment?

Well, there’s a story behind that.

So every 10 years, Brazilian drag queens get on stage and do “I Am What I Am” through the Mardi Gras. The first time we did it, we did the 12 o’clock show. Then we sat in the dressing room till 8 o’clock, literally just drinking vodka. We didn’t go out to the party. There were no photos. And it literally was one of the best Mardi Gras we’ve ever had. We literally just giggled and laughed and just had the best girliest time ever. And yeah, no photos at all.

Your must-see events at Sydney WorldPride?

Come and visit me and my sisters, Verushka Darling and Molly Poppins, on Fair Day, the 19th of February down at Victoria Park. Bring an umbrella. Bring sunscreen. For God’s sake, bring sunscreen.

Tell us about your ‘Big Love Story’

I’m from a huge, huge family. I grew up in the country. My grandfather used to be a sugarcane farmer; he’s 86 years old. I did an interview and a photo shoot for, I think it was the Sydney Morning Herald. It was one of the big newspapers. It was me in drag promoting Oxford Street, in this fabulous pink dress with my boots and, you know, pouring out the front.

And I got a text message from my 86-year-old grandfather and he said, “I saw you in the paper, Maxi. You look great in pink. Love, Pop”. And I just sort of thought, there can’t be any better than that. He’s an an elderly man, he probably doesn’t know what a pronoun is! But to get that from my grandfather was just, you know… your heart is full.

The Big Love Stories stand for inclusivity and diversity and will be converted into giant murals around Sydney for Sydney WorldPride. Maxi will be at Fair Day and marching in the Parade as a ‘Friend of MINI.’

Editor’s note: Sorry folks, MINI’s Big Love Story competition is now closed.