Visual Arts student Aidan Varnas is an ever-changing chameleon. Adopting the identities of glamorous vixens through the power of makeup, his alter egos come alive through singing, songwriting and drag performance.
Tell us about your beginnings as a drag performer. Is there anything you were surprised to know about the industry?
I guess you could say I have been doing drag since I could walk. While most kids were interested in toys or games I was most attracted to dressing up and performing although it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I actually went out in public to take part in some of the Adelaide pride events. It’s surprising to see how much drag and drag culture has changed over the past eight years, although it isn’t shown on mainstream television here, RuPaul’s Drag Race has had a huge impact which is exciting! It’s great to have a platform like that, making drag more celebrated and less taboo.
How did you discover your love for makeup?
My love for makeup started very early on as well. I’d ask my grandma if she could help me turn into Cruella de Vil so she’d smear red lipstick on my mouth and put black eyeshadow on my eyes! In my teens I was a typical outsider and didn’t like myself a whole lot so I started using makeup to feel better about myself and my appearance. I’d have smudged brown eyeliner on with lashings of mascara and very very thick eyebrows. It wasn’t anybody’s typical idea of beauty but it helped me having that mask.
What’s the story behind the stage name Wundes?
Apart from doing drag I’m a singer/songwriter so the name actually comes from one of my songs Wasted Wonder Years. I started to write ‘wonder’ and accidentally wrote ‘Wundes’. It just looked right and made perfect sense to me as I see my drag persona as something that has been born out of my wounds and experiences.
Who would be your ultimate makeup transformation?
There are a few that I’m waiting to do so I can get them just right but I’d have to say Judy Garland circa A Star is Born. Judy’s face is always so expressive and the colour aesthetic of the film is so beautiful, I’d love to recreate that in a photograph.
Would you consider Wundes an alter ego?
Yes, I’d consider Wundes an alter ego. I mean it’s still me but probably more than I would normally allow myself to be.
What is your favourite thing about switching identities?
The challenge! When I decided to do these celebrity inspired transformations it was really to challenge myself and my makeup ability to see if I could do it! I also love performing as the characters by bringing them to life at Mary’s Poppin on the weekends with my other divas!
What is your best piece of advice for someone wanting to pursue something outside the box?
There is no right way or wrong way to do something. Everything takes time and you may not be the best at first but you evolve quickly if you’re dedicated enough. Also don’t let anybody tell you how you should look or sing or act or dance. Just do what you do and take inspirations from where you find them. Everyone has an opinion but nobody has your vision!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still growing and learning! I’d love to travel overseas and continue to push the boundaries of gender identity through art.