Meet the Drag Queen: Aysha Buffet, Dragnation Queen of 2016

Save a fateful piece for Gretchen Wieners, Miss Aysha Buffet graciously cracked the winner’s crown she’d only moments before received.

If this scenario sounds like your vague memories of 2004’s hit Mean Girls, that’s exactly what she was going for.

“Aysha doesn’t give a shit,” she said gaudily as she sipped celebratory champagne. “I’m happy to have won, but I can’t go without acknowledging the fierce effort all the other queens put in.”

Aysha Buffet, is a self taught one year-old drag queen of Filipino descent from Melbourne’s fringe suburbs. Her name stems from the simple fact she’s Asian and loves food, easy to overlook after she emerged ‘queen bee’ of Australia’s latest drag competition, ‘Dragnation’. And what a competition it was.

Eight drag queens from around the counted for the title of essentially Australia’s next drag superstar. As anyone would expect, the proceedings were dramatic.

It’s a camp affair with all the hallmarks of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ before the low-budget show hit the big time, serving as a platform for healthy competition for all levels of aspiring professional drag queens. One of which Aysha can now very proudly consider herself.

The cross-dressing alter ego of Melbourne stylist and creative, Iyan Difuntorum, Aysha Buffet was born of his need to outwardly express his inner femininity.

“Aysha was created because I love styling, and after I saw my first ever drag performance by veteran, Paris Dragqueen, I fell in love with drag,” Iyan said. “Aysha is a model I made to play with the style I love for women, which is feminine with a masculine edge. She’s a creatively and personally expressive art form of my own devices.”

Aysha’s ­philosophy behind her unexpected win, which, as she described, was much like an out-of-body experience, is simple: be confident, be inspired, be determined. Something she lives by and encourages for her drag peers.

“It didn’t feel real and I was kind of speechless when I was announced,” she said. “I felt compelled to congratulate the other girls because I know how hard some of them had worked and how much they’d put-in their all to get this far. It wasn’t easy.”

Winning a competition like this, however, is just the tip of the iceberg for Aysha. Having now taken the crown, she embarks on an eight-week tour of the country, showcasing the best of what she’s got in a one-woman show.

“I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’m excited for the chance to show the country what I can do,” she said.

Her shows gather their influence from artists, music, other queens and her own sense of creative flair.

Whether it’s lip-syncing to the tune of Chinese pop music, to belting out a rendition from an original diva, Aysha’s performances never miss a beat. They are enthusiastically energetic and reminiscent of the camp way forward paved by the likes of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

“I make my own clothes and acts because they’re my style. There are queens out there who hate what I do, but it’s important to have and love your own thing, because you want to showcase the good in your drag persona and character, not someone else’s,” she said.

With plans for the future that involve a lot more performances and pioneering the commercialisation of the art form of drag – a point of difference Aysha is passionate about – she will be busy.

“We’re more than just boys in dresses in the club, after all, wearing wigs and fakes lashes; we are a lot more talented than that. Well, some of us are, anyway!” she said.

Aysha’s tour commences 1 April in Perth at Rigby’s Bar & Grill and runs for eight weeks. See more at facebook.com/DragNationAust.

James Banham
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James Banham

Editor at THE F
James Banham is an Australian lifestyle, fashion and entertainment journalist. His writing can be found on these many topics and more in print and online publications around the country.
James Banham
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