First published on 11 Sep 2010. Updated on 4 May 2011.
Maxi Shield is the type of gal you can depend on, even on a heavy day. Perched above that perfectly styled synthetic hair that frames her face, Shield wears a myriad of hats: performer extraordinaire, pole dancing compare, anti-violence safety ambassador and rugby union mascot, to name but a few.
Largely, however, Shield is known as the good girl of drag. Enormously respected by the gay and lesbian community at large for her generous spirit and sense of community, Shield isn't afraid to run a ladder in her stocking or chip an acrylic nail to help out when her community calls on her boundless talents to raise cold hard cash for charity.
Born Kris Elliot in the NSW town of Ballina on June of 1974, Shield's parents separated when he was young. Raised by his mother until her death when he was ten years old, Elliot was adopted by his aunt. Shield was now a child of six siblings consisting of first cousins and stepbrothers and sisters, and spent much of his childhood living in towns such as Wallingbah, Lismore, Clermont, and Nowra. "I knew I was gay from the age of five," Shield says. "I only ever went out with one girl and it was because I had my eye on this fabulous pink jacket she owned which I really wanted to borrow."
At 19, Shield made the permanent move to Sydney and landed a job as a waiter at the Intercontinental Hotel, which also set the stage for his first foray into drag. "I lost my drag virginity the same way many drag queens do and went to my office Christmas party in a frock." Shield began frequenting night clubs and bars in girl-gear, and connected with Sydney's gay, lesbian and transgender community by volunteering as a performer for local charity events such as the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation's famous Bake Off, and numerous World AIDS Day events.
It wasn't long before Shield was gaffer-taping her manhood between her legs, throwing on a face and hitting the nightclub circuit as professional female impersonator and performer. You'd be hard pressed to find a nightclub along the strip or the cross that Maxi Shield has not worked over the past ten years.
Darting between a midnight show at the Stonewall Hotel to a 1am performance at the Midnight Shift was a regular Friday night for Shield during the naughties, yet this commute also exposed her to the increasing homophobic violence that was beginning to plague Oxford Street. "I'd sometimes get spat on, occasionally by people who had so much to drink that they couldn't produce up any spit, so I was more or less frothed on instead," she recalls.
Passionate about the issue, Shield wasted little time in contacting Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, and invited Moore and then Police Minister, David Campbell, to join her on a late night stroll from Taylor Square to the bottom of Oxford Street to see the violence for themselves. The invitation was accepted and the mainstream publicity of the event helped raise awareness on the issue of homophobic violence at large. Maxi Shield was now Oxford Street's first official Safety Ambassador.
Shield's reputation as a person of integrity with a smart mouth to boot has earned her a number of unconventional roles throughout her career. Perhaps her most unusual posting is as the official mascot, or as Shield calls it, "dragscot", for the Sydney Convicts Rugby team. Our city's gay rugby team is an international A-grade side who have brought home gay rugby's biggest prize, the Bingham Cup, twice in the last three world competitions and have had Shield rooting for them as top-shelf pin up girl-cum-dragscot for the past five years.
When she's not wedged between an entire football team for a naked photo shoot, Shield is jet-setting to destinations like Singapore to host pro pole dancing competitions. Being the first man to take a pole-dancing lesson at Bobbi's Pole Dancing Studio earned Shield a job as the hostess with the mostest, compering pole dancing competitions both here and abroad.
When it comes to affairs of the heart, Shield says finding a good man who can make the distinction between his work as a female impersonator and his life as a gay man is challenging. "Some guys just can't see that it's simply a uniform I put on to go to work," Shield says. "I even went on a date with a guy who enjoyed knitting as a hobby, who couldn't deal with my career as Maxi," she says. "I mean, the man knits for shit's sake!"
1974 Born Kris Elliot in Ballina, NSW, June
1984 Mother passes away
1995 Moves to Sydney
1997 First foray into professional drag
2008 The Sydney Convicts make Maxi Shield their dragscot
2007 Takes Lord Mayor and police minister on a tour of Oxford Street's violence
2010 Shield hosts Miss Pole Dance Singapore
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