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Friday, January 14, 2005

Drag queen comes out for presidential election
04 January 2005

Dressed in a floral frock and nail polish, Whangamomona presidential candidate Bruce Collis looks more first lady than first man.

And that's just the way Bruce - a cross-dresser who is known as Miriam when wearing drag - likes it.

Miriam's nomination in the presidential race has raised a few eyebrows in the tiny eastern Taranaki settlement, but he/she takes it all on a perfectly shaved and powdered chin.

Miriam is one of three nominations in this year's election - the most ever - to be held on the upcoming Whangamomona Republic Day. Another twist in this presidential race is that this year all three candidates are human - not a presidential goat or poodle in sight.

Still, the competition is tough. The republic's first president, Ian Kjestrup, whose time in office lasted from 1989 to 1999, has decided to stand again, and local garage and cafe owner Murt Kennard is also going for the top job.

For Miriam/Bruce, who has lived in Whangamomona since early last year after moving to the area from Wellington, winning the electoral race would be a dream.

"I believe I can communicate with other people from around New Zealand about Whangamomona and give them a different aspect from within the community. I just hope people give me the chance," he/she told the Taranaki Daily News during a visit to Whangamomona to meet the candidates for the January 15 election.

A writer and keen rose gardener, he/she had recently begun to show locals the "other side" of Bruce. During visits to the Whangamomona Hotel, she now regularly "comes out" as a woman wearing lipstick, jewellery and nail polish.

"When I came here people knew me as a male and now they are getting to know another part of me. I'm no different, I'm still the same person."

Locals and visitors to the town's January 15 Whangamomona Republic Day can vote. The ballot box will be hard to miss: it is an old toilet prominently displayed.


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