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TV

Anita Wigl’it tells: Drag Race changed my life

We are so sad to see her go!

By Sebastian van der Zwan
Fan favourite Anita Wigl'it has become the first Kiwi queen to be eliminated from RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under. The 31-year-old Auckland cabaret owner talked to Woman's Day about her highlights from the show, her new celebrity fans and her romantic wedding day.
We're absolutely devastated you're gone. After your killer Snatch Game performance, you were our favourite to win!
I was my favourite too! But I feel really good about it. No-one wants to be eliminated, but the thing with Drag Race is that it's not a reflection of you as a person – it's just how the cookie crumbles for that particular challenge. We couldn't all win. Somebody had to go home!
Was it hard leaving your House Of Drag co-star Kita Mean behind?
Yeah! Going into it, I knew it was a competition, and I knew there'd be winners and losers. I'm happy Kita is still there. Now she's got to win it because one of us has to!
Anita's caught the eye of some big names
How has Drag Race changed your life?
Ooh, so deep! Drag Race has changed my life because it's put me on a global platform, which I didn't have previously and is super-exciting. Hopefully it'll result in shows around the world. That's a big kick for my career. On a more personal note, I've seen myself in drag with the Kiwi show House Of Drag, but I've never seen myself as a boy on TV before so it was kinda cool seeing how I come across and accepting myself – like, that's me, that's who I am.
We've seen a few celebs tweeting that they want to come to New Zealand just to visit your cabaret bar, Caluzzi…
Yes! OMG, it's been crazy. I've got [Drag Race UK star] Blu Hydrangea saying she wants to come with The Vixen [from The Chase] to Caluzzi. One of the singers from Steps, which is so crazy. I've had everyone from an Olympic swimmer to a porn star to several Drag Race alumni. It's been insane.
With fellow queens on the show
What was the highlight of being on the show?
Definitely getting to be myself and getting to be popular by being myself. It was a lovely experience to know people were enjoying me, finding me funny and liking what I'm putting out there. It's very affirming. It was an amazing experience from start to finish. I got to meet RuPaul and Michelle [Visage], who are just lovely people. Ru's like the BFG – the Big Friendly Giant – but so professional and lovely. I always watched the show and figured there was a lot of filters and editing, but from what I saw in real life, he's absolutely stunning. No filters! Standing in front of RuPaul was ridiculous.
What's the difference between Kiwi and Aussie queens?
In New Zealand, we have just as long a history of drag as Australia, but with New Zealand being smaller, it's really vital that we have an emphasis on personality. That goes hand in hand with being really supportive and nice to each other, otherwise we won't get booked. In Australia, there's more opportunity and more of the culture of being a bitchy drag queens. In NZ, there's a real sense of heart behind our drag. Kita and I have always said that by being nice to other people and celebrating them, that's our drag brand. That's the real difference between NZ and Australia.
No hard feelings! Kita (right) is still in the running
How does your husband feel about your performance?
He was so proud of me! He really enjoyed watching me. He was super-disappointed to find out I was eliminated. He thought I'd win it. But he's excited that all these new opportunities are coming out of the woodwork. He's seeing how the world is opening up now.
Can you tell us about your wedding day last June?
It was lovely. We got married in Kumeu, at the Kumeu Valley Estate. It was a really lovely day with family and friends. It was perfect timing, just after lockdown, so everyone was ready to party. We had a real party atmosphere and we had drag queens there as well. It was just beautiful. We both got presented with beautiful pieces of pounamu from the drag community. Kita was my best man, which was a mistake – she always steals the spotlight! I'd organised these lovely blue suits and then Kita went and did a costume change. It was an outrageous suit with these ridiculous heels…
Hubby Shameel couldn't be prouder
Do you have plans to celebrate your anniversary?
We do, but we haven't got them in concrete yet. We love having experiences together, whether that's bungee-jumping or white-water rafting. But we know the present for the first anniversary will be paper…
On the show, you talked movingly about your dad not approving of you being gay. Have you talked since the show aired?
Absolutely. My dad and I talk every Sunday. We have a really good relationship. It's hard with him living in England and me living in New Zealand – there's obviously that distance. In the past 20 years, we've probably seen each other six times. But in the scheme of things, that's so much better than what some other people have. He hasn't seen the show as far as I'm aware. What I said on the show, about him telling me, "I hope you're not gay," that was actually so out of character for him. It must've been something like him reading the newspaper and seeing a story about a homophobic attack on someone. He was more worried about me. We have a great relationship. He's very funny as well. We get on like a house on fire.
Awww, that's so good to hear. We're really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you.
Well, I've heard rumours of an international All Stars series, so fingers crossed!

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