Hannah Conda walked into the werk room lips first, and began stealing our hearts on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2 from her very first raspy cackle! The Aussie finalist discusses surgical enhancement, online trolling and her brother coming out in an exclusive chat with express.

“I’m starting with the All Stars look, babes! I love the lips, they walk in the room before I do” laughs Hannah, as she talks to us from her drag room at her Sydney home, via Zoom.

“I got my lip fillers so that my face could really start to take shape in drag,” she tells us, explaining her inspiration for her larger-than-life smile. “I felt like my little flat, villainous lips that I had before, just didn’t really fit in the area. Maybe now I’ve gone a little bit too far in the other direction. But I love it. It’s something that brings me joy. It’s a conversation starter!”


She tells she initially got them done in Bali, having sought approval from her partner and liked them so much that she got them done again even bigger to fit her naturally round face better.

But while Hannah is living her best life, plenty of internet trolls have been keen to tell her she’s wrong and attempt to humiliate her.

“People will send me memes of me side by side with like fish lips and different cartoon characters from Disney movies. Some of them do it in a mean way, and are shocked when I share it.”

Some trolls have even DM’d Hannah asking ‘aren’t you offended?’ “I was like ‘no!’ I’m very aware of what I look like, and if you’ve got to tell me that I look like a fish to get your rocks off, then, live your life!”

Hannah Conda has been doing drag for 13 years, beginning her career in Perth before migrating to Sydney seven years ago. She now calls Sydney home and is standing with fellow finalists Spankie Jackzon and Kween Kong at Oxford St club Universal, when the winner is announced. Universal is a venue that Hannah regularly performs at and while doesn’t take the crown, she has certainly made both her East and West coast drag communities very proud, as the crowd’s cheers highlight.

Perth’s drag scene came into the spotlight during the first season of Drag Race Down Under when Reddit users revealed that the contestant with the most challenge wins, Scarlett Adams, had performed in blackface at multiple venues around the city. While fans’ fury was aimed at Adams, her performances had seemingly been welcomed by Perth’s gay venues, and photos of her performances were published in the city’s gay media, Out In Perth.

When I ask, ‘what it is about the Perth scene that has allowed these performances to go unchecked’, Hannah is quick to point out that this is truly a national problem.

“We had a spotlight on Perth with Scarlett in the first season, from my experience and understanding of the drag community, it’s not just Perth, it has been all over Australia,” she tells us.

“I’m hoping that from the experiences that we’ve had in Perth and the learnings that the Perth community has had to go through, the other scenes have taken notice, and are doing the work and implementing the right sort of protocols to make sure that those things don’t happen again.”

Hannah admitted on the show to having been involved in culturally inappropriate performances herself in the past and has been doing a lot of work in anti-racism spaces to help correct that.

“When you’re young, unless you’re being told that you’re doing the wrong thing, you don’t always know, and drag was always this place where anything was on the table,” she explains.

“It also comes down to the intention. My performances that have involved cultural appropriation have never been about mocking. They were always about celebrating something that I thought I was loving and appreciating. I didn’t have the understanding of how that takes away from those cultures,” she tells us, concluding, “It’s such a complex, multifaceted conversation.”

The platform Drag Race Down Under gave that conversation has certainly impacted Australia’s drag scenes. The Perth venues Scarlett that allowed to perform in blackface have all issued public apologies, as did the media that published the images.

Australian drag is getting better, as has Drag Race Down Under which received rave reviews for its second season, after being critically panned for its first!
“It’s been the most bizarre, overwhelming, fabulous experience I’ve ever had in my whole entire life,” says Hannah of her time on the show, admitting she was hoping the outcome would have been different, “We were hoping for a three-way tie because that would be iconic!”

Season 2’s finalists, were the same trio that won the show’s girl group challenge (B.A.B’s).

“We love working together. It’s very natural and easy. We just want to stay together as a group. We’re gonna do some music together, and the tour is coming!” She exclusively reveals!

“I didn’t realise going into the show, the level of connection and the friendships that we would make. This season, we were a sisterhood and that’s very much what Down Under drag is,” she explains, adding that the entire cast still talks every day in a group chat.

Hannah’s success shows how far the little boy from rural Western Australia has come. She tells us her parents had always known she was gay due to her love of dressing up as Disney princesses as a child.

Hannah giggles remembering her coming out experience, telling us: “I was 17 and I’d just got my license. I was storming around the house being an angsty teenager, because this boy that I liked, didn’t like me back. I was screaming and mad and told my parents I was leaving. I went to storm out, and my mum said, “you need to calm down. We all know you’re gay!” I was like, ‘sorry?’ And took a back step!”

While Hannah’s coming out was uneventful, she says her parents struggled more when her brother followed suit and also came out as gay. “They told him, ‘it’s a phase. there’s no way you’re gay!’ It took them a bit of time to get their head around both their sons being gay.” She tells us, concluding in her typically bright optimistic tone, “but now, they love it!”

Hannah Conda will be part of the RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Tour which will hit Auckland on Thursday 20 and Wellington on Friday 21 October. For tickets visit

Photos | Bruno Lozich, Lozich Creative.
Article | Oliver Hall.