Cabaret singer Trevor Ashley presents his sensational hit Show I’m Every Woman at Glitter Festival.
What is it about singers such as Bette Midler, Cher and Shirley Bassey that have made them gay icons? Is there something in particular about the spirit they embody that sets them apart?
I get asked this a lot, and I think it’s a bit of an enigma. Look, the gays love a frock and a feather, and these girls are all glamorous and over the top to the extreme. But I think the community has always had an affinity with strong female singers. They’re like modern-day gods!
How do you step into their songs… and their frocks? Is there a trick to embodying the feel of the performance to get the song cranking?
Industrial-strength zippers help on the frock front, as well as a very good corset. I like to embody the women as much as I can, so I’ve studied how they move and their particular vocal stylings. I think if there’s truth in how you portray them then you get away with a lot.
What are the songs that never fail to move you?
Both The Rose (by Bette Midler) as cliched as it is, and As Long As He Needs Me (which Shirley Bassey has sung) are just incredible. They’re tortured love songs but full of drama.
Tell me about your shows in London… and the singalong with Alan Cumming.
London was a bit like a dream to be honest. The Brits ate up Liza, which was very special. The reaction was amazing and they gave me the best reviews of my career. And my number at Alan Cumming’s Club Cumming was a hoot. He’s such a great friend of Liza, so doing her in front of him was really amazing. We’ve gotten to be good friends as we bump into each other in seedy gay bars all over the place.
How do you manage to sing so many songs? Is it impersonation? What does your ‘real’ voice sound like?
It’s hard singing so many songs. This show in particular there are 19 numbers, so it’s a big night with stamina. But I guess I’m used to it now. My voice sounds nothing like all the girls I impersonate but it’s not used very often… I always seem to be playing a character!
What is the over-arching concept for your show I’m Every Woman?
It tells the story of how I became a drag queen in the Sydney pubs at the start of my career, and then presents all of the girls I have loved in my life. All my idols.
What should we expect from you and your show for Glitter Festival?
It’s just a hoot. There are a million wigs and every song you’ll know and you’ll laugh and cry and hopefully walk out with a grin. I had a ball last year and can’t wait to do it again!
Playing on Friday at 8pm as part of the Glitter Festival at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, running Thursday till Sunday. For the full fabulous program go to theartscentregc.com.au.