Elliott Rossi was born in Wollongong and is the man behind Aussie drag sensation Shae G’Day. He has a show this week at Halfway II Heaven, takes career advice from Rose Garden and would love to time travel to the Roaring Twenties.
Where are you from originally?
I’m was born in Wollongong, a small city about the size of Nottingham, 60 miles south of Sydney. I have an Australian mother and an Italian father, and from age six I grew up in Brisbane, Australia.
And where do you live now?
I moved to London at the end of 2012 and have been lodging in St John’s Wood ever since.
What do you love about London and why?
I love the laissez-faire attitude towards people who are ‘different’. I can ride the Tube in full drag and have yet to receive any negative attention.
What was the first LGBT venue you visited?
The Saturday after I turned 18 in 2007, my best mate took me to The Beat Megaclub in Brisbane. I was so nervous, being not fully out of the closet, but it was a really great night. I still love going back there whenever I’m in Australia.
What is your favourite venue?
Absolutely my home bar, Halfway II Heaven. I love how they have really embraced Shae, and I feel really at home there.
How would you describe Shae G’Day?
Shae is essentially what would have happened if Quentin Tarantino had directed Mrs Doubtfire. She is every part of me that I am scared to show offstage. I’d never in my wildest dreams dare to be that brash.
What can we expect in your Halfway show this Tuesday?
Amazing lip sync mixes, mixed with irreverent Aussie banter, with just a dash of desperation.
What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?
My ex took me to see An Octoroon recently. I was initially really uncomfortable with the blackface aspect of the play, but by the end it was such a powerful narrative tool that I’m glad that I saw it.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Make up for sure. I love trying new looks, and now that I have a YouTube series it’s the perfect excuse.
I’m actually not a particularly extravagant person, but in 2015 I booked a flight to Brazil for one week alone, and it was the best couple of hundred pounds I’d ever spent.
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
When I left my full time job in June to work full time as a drag queen, my team made this beautiful framed portrait of me that I’ll cherish forever.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
Not many people know this, but in 2015 I cast Willam from Drag Race in a Magnum ice cream campaign. And as a thank you for working and consulting on that project, the team flew me to the Cannes Film Festival to hang on the red carpet with William and the rest of the cast. That and performing at the Stonewall Inn in NYC was amazing.
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
I’ve always thought that the Roaring Twenties would be amazing to experience.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?
I went home to Brisbane in 2015 for Christmas and New Year. 2015 was a really rough year for me, I’d spent most of it heartbroken over being dumped by my first boyfriend. In an email. At work. For doing drag. At the New Year’s Eve party that I’d gone to, all I could think about was the contrast between feeling absolute despair in the last year, and how much I’d grown and healed. So at the stroke of midnight, I knew that this was a party that I’d never forget, because I was happy again.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Rose Garden is always a fountain of amazing career advice, I genuinely love it when she corners me in the dressing room at Halfway. I can tell she really cares about me. She told me ‘children learn by repetition’ and that’s stayed with me every show I do now.
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
I’d have to say Courtney Act. Simply because we’re both from Brisbane and it’s really inspiring to see someone you look up to succeed so beautifully. It’s comforting to know that amazing queens can come from places beside Sydney and Melbourne.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on social media and why?
Erin Gibson is one of the most hilarious people I’ve ever followed. I can’t wait until her book Feminasty comes out. I also love Nikkie Tutorials and Lisa Eldridge.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?
I have a fascination with isolated places and micro states. So San Marino and Liechtenstein are right at the top of my list. I’d really love to see the outback one day. It seems a shame that it took moving to London to appreciate how beautiful the Australian landscape actually is.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
To stop trying so hard to be the person that I thought the people around me wanted me to be. I’m fine just as I am.