Vanessa Wagner, aka Tobin Saunders.
Vanessa Wagner, aka Tobin Saunders.

Vanessa makes DIVA’s Hall of Fame

VANESSA Wagner, aka Tobin Saunders, describes (her)self with these words: "I'm not a drag queen and I'm not transgender although I do cross over into serious gender illusionism!"

"I am a housewife who after years of servitude decided to go public, get active and show people a bloody good time."

The colourful Northern Rivers' personality has been honoured as the 2012 DIVA Hall of Fame inductee, the biggest recognition for any frock-wearing, stiletto-thumping, make-up enthusiast in Australia.

DIVA, the Drag Industry Variety Awards, are considered the most important honour for drag artists in Australia.

The ceremony, which is bound to be filled with high wigs and tons of makeup, will be held at Fox Studios in Sydney on October 29.

The Northern Star caught up with Ms Wagner (and Mr Saunders) for a rare and very personal tête-à-tête:

JE: What does this award mean to you in terms of career recognition?

VW: "It is nice to be noticed from time to time and I'm very chuffed."

JE: You have attended many DIVA awards and won some before, did this one surprise you?

VW: "Yes!"

JE: What is your favourite outfit?

VW: "My tangerine floor length halter-neck frock!"

JE: Your most memorable gig?

VW: "The Big Brother entrance where I came out as HIV positive on live national television! And the Olympic closing ceremony perched atop a huge wig!"

JE: Biggest booboo you have said in public (printable)?

VW: "I don't do boo, just the odd insensitive opine of which I am getting much more diplomatic about, but not self censoring!"

We then sat down with Vanessa's alter ego, Tobin Saunders, of South Ballina, for a quick chat:

JE: Is Vanessa a side of you that got bigger and shinier over time?

TS: "She is my multicoloured shadow!"

JE: What is life like for you back on the Northern Rivers?

TS: "Quiet, easy and delightful. I could never live in the city again unless I had a harbour side mansion!"

JE: Why are you not going to accept the award? Have you agreed an alternative way to receive the award at a distance?

TS: "They gave me just over two weeks' notice, which is not enough for this showgirl. I also have a dentist appointment I cannot re-schedule. My health comes first. I will offer a stunning acceptance speech in absentia!"


LIST: What's open, what's closed on Anzac Day

LIST: What's open, what's closed on Anzac Day

Supermarkets, bottle shops and restaurants in your town

PHOTOS: Thousands gather for dawn services

PHOTOS: Thousands gather for dawn services

From babies to great grandparents, all were there to pay respects

How can council fix its $1.6 million black hole?

How can council fix its $1.6 million black hole?

Councillors argue over what to cut to get books in the back

Local Partners