They often say, “real queens fix each other’s crowns.” For Matthew Bruno, 35, he might have learned his lessons the hard way, but he is now ready to push himself once again to return to the scene and to bring his fab alter ego, Shania Twatt, back on track.
Hey Paolo: What inspired you to become a Drag Queen?
When I was younger, I was very much into music, drama, and performing. I have always been good at making people laugh. I can easily mimick/perform different characters and I always feel comfortable being in front of people.
Here in Adelaide, I also grew up with all the drag queens at the old Mars Bar (a defunct gay nightclub) and I always loved how they perform. But at that point, I never really wanted to become a drag queen of my own.
Shania Twatt was really born in the Philippines. When I was working there managing a BPO company, I have visited a few gay clubs and made friends with people. One of the venue owners asked me to emcee for them for a night.
“What should we call you then in drag,” they asked. Shania Twain’s song was playing at that time and that inspired me to call myself Shania… (but as a Twatt.)
I never called myself a drag queen. I classify myself more as an entertainer or as a character. If you see me in drag, it’s always for business; it means I’m working. It’s not like I go out wearing all these every night.
When I came back to Adelaide, I kept asking myself: what does Adelaide need at the moment?
I created an agency called Man Netic Entertainment to manage a pool of talents (drag queens and adult entertainers) to serve and entertain different demographics, cultures, ages, and genders. We then initially started performing at Mars Bar, Madame Josephine’s, and a couple of other venues — and these all started successfully.
Hey Paolo: How has Shania evolved through the years?
I bought Mars Bar (which was later turned into OZ Nightclub) with a couple of others at that time but our club had to fold up as it was really difficult running it.
Shania got caught up with all the gossips, drama, and bright lights of the gay scene. Business-wise, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past. But I don’t regret anything now because I’ve learned a lot from it. As a drag queen, I’ve made a lot of friends and enemies too. I’ve made some enemies because of my own actions and wrong decisions in life. But you live and you learn.
With the closure of the club, I felt I was left in a really dark place. I stopped performing and hated doing drag shows. I got really depressed and I felt burnt out. I couldn’t find Shania anymore. I couldn’t even look at my costumes.
I took a time off, but I also felt I wasn’t done yet. I come from a family of entrepreneurs who run successful events and restaurants. With the support of my mum, I told myself, one day I’ll come back.
Now, I’m ready to come back. I’m ready to bring events again to Adelaide.
Hey Paolo: Who is Shania Twatt?
Shania is #hookerrealness. She’s a lady of the night; a madame. She is big, bold, and beautiful. She’s courageous and she never holds back. She’s a big girl who loves to move. She supports big girls and she’s an advocate of body positivity.
I guess I was the Lizzo before there was fucking Lizzo!
Hey Paolo: How different is Shania Twatt from Matthew Bruno?
With Matt, there’s a sense of sensitivity and shyness still. Shania is a bit braver and she doesn’t care. Shania is my armour. I can be personally moody, while Shania is always happy and ready to party. I can be pretty private too, while Shania doesn’t really hold back.
Hey Paolo: How important is Shania Twatt for you?
It has been a tough past six months for me with COVID and the end of my relationship, which caught me off guard and I’m still healing from. So Shania has become more of an escape from the reality of disappointments and heartaches.
However, it was my ex who has also encouraged me to go back out there in the limelight. I still hope that one day though, my ex and I will be able to be friends again. For now Shania allows me to channel my emotions into a creative outlet.
Hey Paolo: What does Adelaide’s LGBTQ community need at present?
Adelaide needs a venue that will celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ community while catering to a variety of cultures, curiosities, fetishes, and demographics. I just want to see everyone come back together and party like how they used to.
Hey Paolo: What’s next for you?
We opened up PONY (146 Hindley Street; male cabaret and drag show in Adelaide) last January 2020. At PONY, it’s a destination and a nonstop show featuring gorgeous men, drag queens, performances, visual effects, games, and lots of drinking & partying. Usually after our shows, the same venue turns into a nightclub.
I’m also planning to start a series of new gay events/parties in the near future (tentatively called “Bar Gaga”).
Hey Paolo: Where would Shania go for…
Lunch/Dinner: Of course, it’ll be at my mum’s restaurant, B Social (246 Foster Rd, Oakden). Shania likes drinking refreshing cocktails such as Aperol Spritz or Pineapple Malibu.
Weekend Spot: It’ll probably be at a random beach. She’s probably hangover or partying there.
Vacation: I would love to go back to a place where I have good memories of, like the Philippines. Or maybe Mykonos, Greece because I also have a drag queen friend there.
Shania Twatt’s Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/shania_twatt/