Life is all about having a laugh. That's according to drag queen Anita Wigl'it, who is bringing her one-woman show to Whangārei this month as part of a nationwide tour.
Life of a Funny Girl! takes audience members on the journey of life with Wigl'it, who left the Navy to become a full-time drag queen.
"It's a comedy show about my life, because my life has been sort of extremely ridiculous," she said.
"I've been lucky enough to do some really cool things in my life, like being on TV on Rupaul's Drag Race."
RuPaul's Drag Race is a reality competition television series, but is probably better described as a worldwide phenomenon that has hoisted drag performance into the mainstream.
"Basically I get to go to costume parties for a living."
Wigl'it has been a drag queen for the last 12 years, but her journey began with working part-time at the Civic Theatre in Auckland.
"The first musical I ever ushered for was [The Adventures of] Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."
It was love at first sight for Wigl'it, who was immediately inspired to have a Priscilla-themed 21st birthday party.
The dressing up never stopped after that - Wigl'it travelled to Canada and won Vancouver's Next Top Drag Superstar.
Wigl'it returned to New Zealand and worked for the Royal New Zealand Navy full-time for four years, but her drag life began to take over.
"I had to say sorry, Navy, but I'm having more fun."
Wigl'it is now the owner and resident queen of Auckland's famous Caluzzi Cabaret on Karangahape Rd.
"In Auckland on K Road, it's such a colourful vibrant place that it doesn't matter if you're walking holding another man's hand - it's part of the community there."
Acceptance is a theme she touches on a lot when she speaks, and her show mentions being bullied for being gay growing up.
"I wanted to be open about the negative things in life as well as the positive.
"It's about having a laugh, but also there are subliminal messages about how accepting yourself and following your dreams can lead to this life that you really enjoy."
Up to 20 people protested outside the library and loud noise-emitting devices had been placed on library shelves in an attempt to disrupt the event.
Wigl'it said the protest was "inappropriate and unacceptable", and people need to understand that drag performance is not inherently sexual, but often about acceptance and expressing one's self.
"As a drag performer I've done rainbow storytimes before and we would never in a million years use swear words or sexual references in front of kids."
"They just simply don't understand and they're extremely close-minded."
Drag performances have been around for centuries, with men taking on female roles in everything from Ancient Greek tragedies to Shakespeare.
Drag queens have been present across the history of the gay rights movement, notably because many of the performers are gay themselves.
"You might protest against this but we're not going away. We're really nice people and we love to make people laugh."
Wigl'it enjoys that her bright and colourful appearance makes her a visible ambassador for the gay community.
She said that being gay feels more acceptable in large cities like Auckland and Wellington compared to the rest of regional New Zealand.
The first stop on Wigl'it's tour is Whangārei, somewhere she's never been despite growing up in Auckland, and she's looking forward to bringing a different type of performance to smaller New Zealand cities.
"What was amazing is, after the shows people come up and (say) that by me sharing those stories, even though I'm light-hearted about it... they really appreciate it and they almost feel united."
Whangārei Theatre Company, 71 Reyburn House Lane, Whangārei.
Tuesday 19 July 2022 8:00pm – 10:00pm