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Freakin’ fabulous

I’ve always thought that ‘fabulous’ is much less a word or a feeling but more a personality trait. The old saying goes; “Some people are born fabulous; some people achieve fabulousness and some have fabulousness thrust upon them.” Personally my fab quota is on the low-end of the scale but quite frankly, I’m happy to leave all of that to the professionals: professionals like - the ever fabulous Timberlina.

*As a note. During this article I refer to both Tim and Timberlina separately and use their requested pronouns of he/him and she/her respectfully.   

I first met Tim back when we were both wearing ill-fitting aprons with matching leather bow ties (like… ew), and crying over other people’s weddings (me, not him), working behind the bar and hate-loving every minute of it. As all hospitality employees know, there’s a special kind of resilience required to survive even a hot minute in the wedding industry.

So how did we get through it you ask? Well I simply sipped and sampled many a shandy behind the bar (how else does one toast?), whereas Tim, faced each and every high-pressure situation with grace and poise and a tonne of sass. So it’s no surprise to me at all, that sitting across from Tim many years later, going through his schedule and plans for the future that he, and the ever fabulous Timberlina, are hitting the ground running (in heels).

Drag Queens (and Kings) come from a long line of movers and shakers. From those who stood toe to toe at Stonewall, marched in the first Mardi Gras parade, or spilled the tea on reality TV to the masses, there’s an entire list of outstanding individuals standing tall against society and living their best life.

Photography: Zoe Lonergan
Photography: Amy Allen Creative Co

With this in mind, I don’t think it’s fair to introduce Timberlina as simply Tim’s alter-ego. Anyone who has ever seen Timberlina perform knows that she’s a force to be reckoned with. This is why it’s no surprise to learn that she apparently arrived fully formed, demanding to perform – even if her entry into the industry was a little unconventional. Timberlina recalls, “I was literally drunk when I emailed Central – now Bartholomew’s – proposing the idea for a drag performance. So much so that I was surprised when they were so on board. This was way back in 2017”. But here we are several years later and Timberlina is busier and more in-demand than ever. But why Drag?

“For me Drag is about expressing yourself in another way. You’re still very much yourself, but also not, at the same time. As soon as you start putting on makeup you’re transformed into this character, and that character can literally be whoever you want,” Timberlina states. Although she’s performed extravaganzas all over Australia, there’s one performance in particular that continues to stand out amongst the crowd, and it’s not the kind of vibe you’d think.

“For me Drag is about expressing yourself in another way. You’re still very much yourself, but also not, at the same time. As soon as you start putting on makeup you’re transformed into this character, and that character can literally be whoever you want.”

Timberlina affirms, “Rainbow Storytime is the most impactful show I do, and it’s also the one that I enjoy the most. That’s the future generation right there, and for me it’s about normalising what I do to that generation and not trying to dilute it in any way”. And yes, Rainbow Storytime is as fabulous as it sounds – with Timberlina kicking it with the kids, celebrating diversity, and hosting kids story time at Newcastle Library – in full Drag.

And of course, kids have no filter. Timberlina recalls, “Once I was reading
My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart and a little kid yelled from the back of the room ‘That’s you’ to a room full of about sixty people. And it’s true, he was completely right, that was and is me. It was a great unfiltered teaching moment because I don’t think any parent really knows how to really respond to something like that on the spot”.

With unlimited performance options and venues available, some may think it’s unusual to see advertisements for Drag Bingo in cities like Gulgong or Shepparton but championing the LGBTQIA+ community, especially the young queer community, is a big part of what makes up the why behind Timberlina’s performances and that support needs to extend far beyond the bounds of metropolitan areas. Growing up queer in a regional town can be extremely isolating, especially for young people and since Tim grew up in regional Australia, (those fateful drunken emails were actually sent from his parent’s property) is exactly what makes these particular trips and performances that little bit special.

Growing up queer in a regional town can be extremely isolating, especially for young people and since Tim grew up in regional Australia, it is exactly what makes these particular trips and performances that little bit special.

Photography: Zoe Lonergan
Photography: Amy Allen Creative Co
Photography: Blaketaco

“Representation is so important which is why I think those regional shows are my favourite. Sharing my story, especially out there, is a chance for people to experience something a little different but also something that someone, somewhere, might really relate to. It can show them a world outside of a small Australian town,”
Timberlina affirmed.

My one ‘big’ question was of course; “What does it look like when a Drag Queen goes on the road?” “I literally just pack one suitcase” says Tim putting to shame my entire van load of  ‘god knows what’ every time I go camping. To be honest, I’d kill to have the minimalism thing down pat. But going through Tim’s schedule, it’s much more out of necessity than anything else because there is no downtime. There’s travel time, and show-time and hopefully some nap-time in between. Tim declares, “Take today for example, I’m getting ready to head into another meeting, and hopefully manage to pack in time before I head to the Gold Coast for twenty-four hours”.

As word continued to spread about the high energy performances, demand surpassed well beyond what was humanly possible – even for a logistics management queen. For Tim, that spontaneous, albeit drunken decision back in 2017 grew to include a production company providing entertainment for hen/buck’s nights, hosting gigs, Drag bingo and trivia, corporate events, and everything in between. “To be honest, Timberlina is the most difficult of all the queens to manage,” came Tim’s response through a laugh when I asked about logistics management. “The other queens are great, super professional and completely dedicated to what they do”.

All things considered, it’s of course all on the up and up for both Tim and Timberlina. Securing a partnership with Absolut Vodka, being the focus of an upcoming documentary  premiering in “only the classiest of cinemas,” and planning countless trips to rural Australia and beyond, are all within sight for the very fabulous, ever fantastic Drag Queen

Words: Laura Kebby

As seen in Swell Issue 10.

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