Doris Fish was a pioneering drag queen who began his career with the radical drag troupe Sylvia and the Synthetics in Sydney in the early 1970’s, and went on to become famous in the US as “the fake woman from Downunder who has stolen the heart of San Francisco.” He played a crucial role in transforming the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras from a street protest march into an international cultural phenomenon, with his satirical floats and costumes including Imelda Marcos’s Shoes, The Head of Fred Nile on a Plate, Haley’s Comet and The Fishmobile.
Prior to his untimely death from AIDS in 1991, the Mayor of San Francisco proclaimed an official Doris Fish Day in honour of his contribution to the community.
He spent the last decade of his life creating the drag science fiction movie “Vegas in Space”. With an all-drag cast and shot largely in his San Francisco apartment, the film would eventually traverse the globe, playing the likes of Sundance, Cannes and the Sydney Film Festival in 1992, and becoming a staple of late-night cable television in the US. It is now recognised by film writers for its pioneering role in queer cinema –
“Vegas in Space and the New Queer Wave showed a generation of queer youth and aspiring filmmakers that it was OK to embrace their otherness, rather than bury what makes them unique.” – Michael Varrati, screenwriter and columnist.
“I thought it was incredible… … the make-up and fashions are so ahead of its time.” – Sasha Velour, Winner of Season Nine of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2017.
NOTE: the Doris Fish Celebration also includes a book launch event at the state library. Further details here.
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