Drag Race Down Under’s Elektra Shock: From homeless to healed

As we farewell another kiwi from the show, which queen will win?

Woman’s Day editor Sebastian van der Zwan chats to newly eliminated RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under contestant Elektra Shock, 28, the tenacious Invercargill-born queen and “lip sync assassin”.

How did you feel after being eliminated?

Well, I can’t say it was great, but I was very, very proud of what I’d done. It felt like the timing was right. I’d have loved to be in the finale, but I really got everything out of the show that I possible could – except the $30,000! I was chuffed to achieve what I did.

It was fellow New Zealand contestant Kita Mean who knocked you out, but are you still gunning for a Kiwi to win the competition?

Oh, I’d be stupid not to gun for a Kiwi. Kita was such a huge support to me and she definitely encompasses everything that a winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under needs. She’d be a great representation for us if she were to win.

What was the highlight of your time on Drag Race?

There were so many! It was probably one of the toughest experiences I’ve ever gone through in my life. At the time, it seemed so hard and stressful in this pressure cooker, but after leaving the show, I realised that I learnt so much – not just about drag, but also about who I am as a person and a performer. It was a reconnection between James [Luck, her real name]. Merging those two together was such a gift and I can’t thank the show enough for that.

Elektra’s shock elimination

What was the toughest time for you?

The interactions with the other queens. They just didn’t like me, to be quite honest. I made some fantastic connections with Karen [From Finance] and Maxi [Shield], but I really struggled to connect to some other queens just based on their opinion of the level of drag they thought I was bringing. I went into the competition knowing the level of drag I brought was a bit undercooked compared to theirs, but I thought I brought something different to drag, which was the performance element and hopefully a bit of heart. The hardest part was probably trying to overcome the critiques of the other contestants, as well as the critiques from the judges – it was quite tough. But it’s made me stronger. We don’t give up here in New Zealand!

The Aussie queens seemed quite bitchy. Did it feel like they were bullying you?

It didn’t feel like bullying at the time, but it was such a high-pressure environment and I don’t blame the girls for anything they said. They were under just as much pressure to make good TV and be shady. A lot of the stuff we say in jest can come across as bullying. The only thing that really got to me was the fact it was constant. I mean, I know what I look like more than anyone, so I could take it all on the chin at first, but when we were still talking about how I looked by episode three, it was exhausting, like, “You worry about yourselves because I’m still here!” Everyone was showing their own insecurities a little bit.

You mentioned on the show you were homeless for a while there…

Yeah, about three years ago, I was living in my friend’s garage for a little bit. I’d had a dance studio on the North Shore [of Auckland], and I thought I could make it into something amazing and special, but as you know, business doesn’t always go to plan. It meant I had to step back from everything and cut back on my finances. It broke me. It was a very traumatic time for me and something I didn’t think I’d come back from. Drag Race really did help me with that because it knocked my confidence a lot. I didn’t think I’d ever want to perform or teach again. The show proved to me I’ve got that magic back. It was a journey of recovery and healing for me.

But it meant you didn’t have quite the same resources as the other queens…

Yeah, I definitely come from a lower financial situation. Drag Race has turned into such a huge fashion show and it really has become such an elevated level of drag that it’s unattainable for a lot of queens. A lot of the drag queens I work with could never pull the thousands and thousands of dollars that are required to get to that level. Some of those wigs cost up to $800 and you need eight runway looks, which is a lot of money. But I didn’t want that to stop me. I was offered the opportunity and I wasn’t going to say no. I just did what could to make it work. I recycled my old drag, I rhinestoned things, I made things, I borrowed things…

What’s next for you?

Honestly, I have no idea, but I’m so excited. I’m really in a position where I’ve been given opportunity, and I want to keep my mind and my heart open. I want to collaborate with old people and new people, and bring all my friends with. Hopefully I can tune into this beautiful gift I’ve been given as much as possible.

Have you had any celebrities slide into your DMs?

I have! The only I’m most excited about is Keala Settle from The Greatest Showman – she was the bearded lady. She loves my drag and I love her! That was really, really cool. I was obsessed with that movie when it came out. She’s been a highlight of the DMs.

I suspect from your accent that you’re from down south…

Yes, I originally grew up in Invercargill, but Auckland is home now. I’ve been here for the past eight years, and me and my partner Michael live in Ponsonby. We have a beautiful life together. This is where I am and this is where I’m putting down my roots.

The finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under screens Saturday at 8.30pm on TVNZ 2 and on TVNZ OnDemand.

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