Despite nearly going home in the first week, Spankie Jackzon defied the odds and won RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2 with an old-school drag aesthetic and attitude that felt like a breath of fresh air. She talks to Oliver Hall about nearly pulling out of the competition, leaving NZ to support her career and what younger queens are missing! 

It’s 3pm NZ time when Spankie chats to us on Zoom from her Melbourne hotel room. She’s still in bed, hung over from having dinner with fellow finalists Hannah Conda and Kween Kong the previous night.

It’s a sisterly connection stronger than anything Spankie was expecting to find on the show, but shockingly she reveals she almost didn’t make it to Drag Race at all.


“A week and a half before we were due to start filming, I nearly pulled out, because I couldn’t get things made. Four outfits weren’t delivered! I had to rush to try and figure out other options. It was a nightmare. I kept thinking ‘it’s Drag Race!’ I didn’t want to go on there and embarrass myself.”

At the last minute, Spankie managed to get her runway looks together. “Literally a lot of it arrived at 9pm the day before I was leaving. So I didn’t have any time to fit it. It literally went in the bag!” She tells us.

“I was just like, this opportunity may never happen again. With glitter and Jesus, I’m going to go out there and I’m going to fucking sell it. If I need to lip sync the whole way, then that’s what I’ll do.”

In the beginning, it didn’t look good. Spankie narrowly avoided getting eliminated in the first episode, as the judges gawked at her lack of tights, but as the season progressed RuPaul seemed to form a deeper connection with Spankie.

“RuPaul and I just really clicked. He got me. I’m not a rough queen, but doing runways is not me either. I’m a girl that’s off the rack. Not a costume girl,” Spankie tells us.

Online commentators went as far as to suggest Ru and the other judges were giving Spankie favourable treatment, by not reading her runway looks to filth. But Spankie believes, “after episode two or three, RuPaul just stopped comparing me to the other girls and just started to see me for me as a person.”

Ru had it right. The world had fallen in love with Spankie Jackzon. Public popularity was such a landslide in Spankie’s favour, that when TVNZ+ posted a Facebook poll asking which finalist viewers wanted to see win, Spankie took 90% of the vote. By the screening of the final episode, Spankie’s crowning felt like a foregone conclusion.

“It just makes me really emotional because it’s beyond my wildest dreams,” She tells us. “There are no words. I’m so touched and humbled, who would have thought I would have created this reaction from people who have connected with little Spanky Jackson with no pants on? I’m just so grateful and honoured to represent New Zealand and Australia!”

While she will always represent us, the realities of the drag industry, means staying in NZ would be detrimental to Spankie’s career growth.

“I just finished up my day job, after eight years,” she tells us. Spankie had been running school holiday childcare programmes for five to 14-year-olds.

“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to leave, saying goodbye to their little faces. But I’ve always taught those kids to live their dreams and follow their truth. To put your mind to it and go for it. And now, that’s what I’m doing – getting to live out my dream!”

While Spankie tells us she loves the peace and quiet of Palmerston North, work for a drag queen in NZ is not sustainable and a move is on the cards.

“I don’t know whether that will be to Australia. It seems that the UK is absolutely frothing for me. I’m just gonna go with the flow. I’m not going to make any immediate decisions.”

While we might not see Spankie on our shores for a while (following this month’s Drag Race Down Under tour) her time on Drag Race has left us with a lot of fond memories, such as the blue tarpaulin corset with wings that she created for episode one’s unconventional materials challenge.

“I knew that the sewing challenge would be my downfall,” she laughs. “Okay the execution wasn’t the best but it’s actually turned into an iconic ‘so bad it was good’ outfit.”

So will we be seeing her don this iconic outfit once again?

“Fuck no, I chucked it in the bin. I wish I’d kept it! I would have it at my house as a museum piece!”

There was also her winning partnership with fellow Kiwi queen Yuri Guaii on the drag brunch challenge.

Spankie tells us she adores Yuri. “Before, the show Yuri wasn’t respected by some of the other Queens in NZ, because he’s got his own thing going on, that doesn’t quite fit. Well, guess what – it doesn’t have to fit! He’s so incredibly talented. The looks he creates are amazing and every time I see him I’m absolutely frothing. He’s like art, you can’t put him in a category!”

Spankie admits she’s keen to resurrect their hilarious double act. “We’ll probably be on the ‘Cum’ tour at some point. That’s probably what we’d call it!”

As well as Yuri and her B.A.B’s girl group challenge sisters, Spankie also connected with Sydney drag legend Minnie Cooper, who found themselves being lumped together as the season’s ‘older queens’.

“The reason why Minnie and I connected, is because we come from the same era of drag. I do have a drag mother (Wellington’s Amanduh LaWhore) and she taught me everything I know!”

“Learning from people rather than a Youtube tutorial, you grow, and you get inspired. Now we’ve got a whole generation of queens who want to be a drag queen, and have all of the resources at their fingertips. We didn’t have that – you had to learn. And to be fair, drag queens weren’t giving out tips willy nilly, because you were going to take their job. So you earned your stripes. That’s what’s missing now. There’s a sense of entitlement. It’s like, ‘I look great so I deserve it.’ But you haven’t gone out in the community and met the people and learnt the hard way.”

Spankie suggests the new generation of queens who grew up watching Drag Race, lack respect from the Queens who were working before Drag Race entered the cultural zeitgeist.

“Respecting the people that came before you, that’s gone out the fucking window. Younger queens, look at older Queens like, ‘Oh, she’s tired. She’s not like Drag Race.’ But it’s about connecting with people, entertaining them and making them feel something. That’s at the core of the older queen!”

Unsurprisingly, it is older queens that Spankie would like to see cast on the third season of Drag Race Down Under.

“They’re into the bloody 21-year-olds with the high kicks, flips and the prettiness but they lack the substance of good drag, which comes down to experience, living and learning.”

Spankie acknowledges this issue is a double-edged sword, as older queens will only be cast on the show if they audition, and many are reticent too.

“They don’t need it. They’ve already got a career. They’re quite comfortable and there’s also there’s that element of, ‘I don’t belong there. I’m too old!’ It comes down to who gets cast, and as we’ve seen in previous seasons, it’s very rare that we get older queens,” she says echoing a problem long-held in the queer community –  we celebrate our youth and often forget our elders and their contributions.

In addition, as Spankie concludes with a smirk on her face, we have a warped view of where youth ends and ‘aged’ begins.

“I love how people say I’m an older queen. I’m only fucking 37! It’s not like I’m dead,” she cackles.

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

Photos | Richard Wood.