When one door closes, another opens, and for Bailey Dunnage a new chapter was waiting. Justina Wiig comes live, front and centre, as the new artist development of the recent graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing arts – where performance is in his blood.
In the past month, Dunnage has donned the Wiig after the closing episode of his YouTube series, Bailey’s Botanical Band. Although the series might have come to a standstill, Dunnage hasn’t – taking his plant’s-aplenty covers to Instagram for live sessions each Saturday.
We had the chance to get some insights from the man, the myth, the legend on his new ventures:
1. What inspired Justina Wiig, and where’d the name come from?
“I’ve been wanting to do drag for quite some time now but was always too scared to start because I knew it was such a huge commitment. Through lockdown I decided I’d give it a go, and I haven’t looked back. Now as far as the name goes, if you watch Bailey’s Botanical Band you’ll know I’m a huge fan of puns, and I would just spit ball drag names with my friends all the time. I landed on Justina Wiig because I wanted my aesthetic to be campy and somewhat over the top, so to say that I’m just in a wig is completely ludicrous. It’s early days for Justina, who by the way, is very jealous of her sister Kristen Wiig’s successful acting career, so she’s striving to be just like her.”
2. How long have you been interested in drag?
“I fell in love with drag when I was back in Perth. I moved there straight out of high school, a closeted gay boy from a small town in New Zealand. I actually had never been to a gay bar, nor seen a drag queen before that, and I was in awe. Some of my friends were queens and it might be biased but I think Perth has some of the best queens in Australia.”
3. Who are your favourite drag queens, and did they play a part in Justina Wiig?
“I have so many favourites, but to name a few Aquaria, Shea Couleé, Gigi Goode, Naomi Smalls, Jujubee, Sasha Velour, Trixie Mattel, Blu Hydrangea oh and what’s her name? PRIYANKA. Honestly the list goes on and on, I think anyone who decides to become a drag queen is so courageous and every queen is inspiring in their own way. Justina is still a baby, but all these queens will definitely play a part in shaping who she will become.”
4. What’s the future for Botanical Band?
“I think botanical band had its time, and I have learnt so much from doing it. All the episodes will stay on my IGTV, Youtube and Facebook for Bai-leafs to enjoy forever. The finale with Justina and Bailey was heaps of fun and I feel like it won’t be the last duet between the two of us.”
5. Can we expect a new album, with some drag favourites, coming soon?
“I keep saying I’m gonna do an album, but it’s such a mammoth mountain to climb, and I’ve been so busy climbing a bunch of other ones that I haven’t quite gotten to it yet. I also think, unlike my other goals, it’s not something I can do alone, so I’m waiting for an opportunity to collaborate with people to make sure I can get my best work out there. It’s a goal that’s very much still in my radar, but for now I’m focusing on the things that are keeping me present and happy.”
To watch Justina’s debut, check out Bailey’s Botanical Band below.
by JOSHUA HALL HAINES
Editor-in-Chief, The Independent Press Co.