By Belle Hann
“I never expected to be a drag queen,” says Abril La Trene, Footscray’s warm and witty blue-wigged extraordinaire. Working in the corporate sector, she was bored and needed an outlet. She loved watching drag shows with her friends and thought: ‘I reckon I’ll give it a go.”
One night, she performed a one-off parody for a friend’s party, and the artist known as Abril La Trene was born. The regular bookings soon came in, leading to an international career spanning over a decade.
It is being the official “People’s Queen” of Pride of our Footscray nightclub on Hopkins street that is Abril La Trene’s crowning achievement. In addition to being part-owner, she is the beloved host of the Wednesday night Adult Bingo and the fabulous Saturday Night shows.
On an average night, Abril La Trene prepares with intense makeup application that can take up to two hours. Next up, she will help orientate new performers, setting up music and assisting the DJ. She will then meet and mingle with the audience around the club, even stopping by to say hello to the smokers outside. Then it’s show time!
Abril La Trene says that she loves to create a positive and welcoming experience for all guests. “Building a community is very important and I like to make sure everybody has a great time.”
It is no surprise, then, that Abril La Trene feels strongly that new performers to the drag scene need more than glitz and glamour. “Don’t just practice at home,” she says. “You need good ‘venue skills’ and be able to talk to people.”
Abril La Trene notes that the ‘Rupaul Factor’ has made drag more mainstream in Australian society. “People are more exposed to drag nowadays. Recently, I was at the AFLW Pride Game at Whitten Oval and I was meeting families and holding babies.”
The ‘Rupaul Factor’ also means Abril La Trene is also quite open about being a drag queen in her other professional life, even telling prospective employers in job interviews. Potential love interests, however, can be a bit trickier as some partners may not be so keen to share the spotlight. Any advice for aspiring drag queens?
“You need perseverance and resilience,” says Abril. “Surround yourself with people who support you. And learn from your sisters!”