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'My parents watch with hands over their eyes, but love what it stands for'.

Byline: Liz Day Reporter liz.day@walesonline.co.uk

HIS parents cover their eyes during his outrageous shows - but drag artist and cabaret performer Fez Faanana says his family are his biggest fans.

Fez, who describes himself as "a director, bearded lady and performer", will wow audiences at Wales Millennium Centre this week as part of street theatre and cabaret festival Blysh.

Speaking as he boarded a flight from Australia to London, he admitted: "My folks watch the show with their hands over their eyes, but they truly love what it stands for."

His parents are from Samoa and Fez was born in New Zealand, before moving to Australia and growing up in Queensland.

He went to school in Ipswich, near Brisbane, which he describes as a place of "very little tolerance".

"Growing up, I encountered loads of prejudice in varying formats and guises," he recalled.

"I wouldn't change a thing, though - it has given me my opinions and my hard-headedness."

Fez worked in hospitality before "falling into" cabaret.

He started performing with Brisbane-based dance theatre group Polytoxic.

"We started making short performance pieces that fitted really well into variety and cabaret, so I started making club acts," he said.

In 2008 he became one of the founders of creative collective The Briefs Factory.

"Briefs was born out ofa series of perform-ances, parties and club nights," he said.

"There was a great informal and diverse collective of creatives who were partying, working and struggling together." The company created their first full-length work in 2010 and have toured the world.

Their shows involve drag, burlesque and comedy.

Fez loves his flamboyant costumes of feathers, sequins and glitter, but struggles to find high-heels in a size 17.

The performer, who uses the stage name Shivannah, said of his show: "My family are my biggest supporters, but I needed to get comfortable doing what I do in front of my parents.

"My friends love it - they are half the reason I make this kind of work."

He identifies as being transgender, but believes it is difficult to define terms, adding: "I think it's best to own your own identity and let everyone else rock their own out, too."

The cast has recently performed in Germany and France and will soon head to London.

He believes "boylesque" is growing in popularity, with more performers getting involved and more people flocking to shows.

He said: "If this is your first Briefs encounter, you can expect a clever and raucous night of circus, drag, burlesque and comedy, with a serious dose of skill and fierceness."

Briefs - The Second |Coming, at Wales Millennium Centre, July 23 to July 25. For more information and to book, visit www.wmc.org.uk

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Fez Faanana, who uses the stage name Shivannah, will be performing Briefs - The Second Coming at Blysh Festival |this week

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 20, 2015
Words:475
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