From the age of 17, James started dressing up in drag to hit the local gay venues in his friend’s old calisthenics costumes and a slapdash makeup job. This was where he saw his first drag shows, met drag queens and began the lengthy six-year process of evolving into Miss Eve Elle.
“Growing up with strong female role models, and exposed to pop icons and divas, it’s very liberating to put on a pair of heels and mess with gender stereotypes,” James says. “It’s a fun, creative outlet, but I like to think that by pushing some boundaries, I’m also encouraging people to be more open-minded.”
Miss Eve Elle hosts three nights a week at Mary’s Poppin, Adelaide’s newest and most-fabulous cocktail lounge. A role that’s allowed her to rub shoulders with some of the most royal of queens, like fabulous contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race for one, and put her on the stage in front of crowds of up to 800 people.
But a great deal of time and effort goes into preparing his look and performance ahead of every night. We speak to James about his process of transforming into Miss Elle, which can take from one to two hours each night.
“In preparation for a gig, I have to shower, shave, brush my teeth and put in my contact lenses. I visualise the look I want to achieve, and select the outfit, shoes, accessories and hair I’ll need. Then I realise I’ve lost all concept of time, and rush out the door with armfuls of bags and cases, trying not to be late. I play the songs I’ll be performing to on repeat in the car to practice my lip sync.”
Click the images below to read the step-by-step how-to.
Transforming into Miss Eve Elle
Photography by Eric Brumfield.