James Welsby (Valerie Hex) is a performer, choreographer, teacher, and producer with a decade of professional experience. He is currently the artistic director and producer of YUMMY and a cabaret panel member for the Green Room Awards. James graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts, School of Dance in 2007, and in 2008 went on to found dance company Phantom Limbs (winner Melbourne Festival Discovery Award 2013), which created and toured work for seven years. James has also toured around Australia and the world as a performer with Pomegranate Arts in Taylor Mac’s A 24 Decade History of Popular Music, Finucane and Smith's Glory Box, Briefs Factory's Briefs: The Second Coming and much more. His independent work has been presented at Next Wave Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse, The Blue Room Theatre, AIDS2014, PACT, Northcote Town Hall, The Street, The Art Gallery of NSW, and Dancehouse (‘Housemate’ residency). James taught dance at Chunky Move for six years, and teaches independently as a guest teacher. In 2015 James founded the cult smash hit cabaret YUMMY, which won “Best Production” and “Best Ensemble” (Cabaret) at the 2018 Green Room Awards. The critically acclaimed show is currently touring internationally, and James performs in it as his drag alter ego Valerie Hex. Some interesting facts abut Valerie Hex - She opened the show An Evening with David Sedaris at Hamer Hall, she hosted Midsumma’s 2018 Carnival T-Dance for 10,000 people, and she was the face of beauty festival MECCALAND by Mecca Cosmetica. Valerie Hex has performed extensively in nightclubs around the world and brings a unique sense of movement to drag performance.
Benjamin is a prolific solo performer, having presented work as a contemporary dancer and performance artist for a variety of Sydney/Melbourne clubs, short works nights, commercial/ corporate functions and festivals within Australia and the USA. Within his contemporary practice he has had the opportunity to present solo work through Chunky Move – Next Move, Lucy Guerin Inc – Pieces for Small Spaces, Performance Space – Day For Night, National Gallery of Victoria Australia – Melbourne Now, Mona Gallery & New Orleans Biennial – Prospect 3 USA. Benjamin has also engaged with the performance/club scene for a number of years. Collaborations continue with MOFO & Dark MOFO Festivals Hobart, The Arbory Bar and Eatery and Projekt 3488 Warburton. Other nights, Festivals and venues include: Adelaide Fringe Festival – Strut and Fret, YUMMY, BARBA Party, CLOSET Party, Darwin Festival, Disco Abyss, Unicorns, Honcho DISKO, House of Mince, Hugs & Kisses, The Toff in Town, The Carlton Club, Melbourne Festival, Melbourne International Jazz Festival – The Cave, Melbourne Fringe, Next Wave Festival, Tokyo Sing Song, The X Studio, Hares & Hyenas, NGV and ACMI.
Karen From Finance
INTRODUCING the newest member of the team – Karen From Finance!!
Karen From Finance is the premiere ‘corporate’ queen of Melbourne, Australia. She lives alone with her budgie ‘Dantè’ and enjoys tax time, office-based bonding activities, and invoice archiving.
After being made redundant from the accounts team at a small pie wholesaler in Geelong, Karen From Finance has since moved to the big smoke to become a real team player here in Melbourne. Make her feel welcome! CC her in on an email. Heck, BCC her if you must! Karen From Finance will always Reply To All. Specialising in BAS statements, Payroll Systems, and Accounts Payable, Karen From Finance takes her role in your office very seriously. She will not leave a Manilla folder unturned. Board meeting? No worries! Karen has your minutes taken! The office fridge will never run out of milk, not with Karen From Finance around. Karen celebrates her New Years on July 1st each year, and isn’t shy of the odd Friday night after-work drink with the ladies. Her weaknesses include the ATO, Revolver, cute temps from the Agency and conjoined paper clips. So long as you don’t pinch her stapler without asking, Karen From Finance really is a good time gal. Take your chats further than the water cooler and buy her a stiff drink. You never know – she could be the one to help you out with your next promotion!!
In 2017 Karen From Finance took off to the United States of America for her first ever international tour where she was featured at RuPaul’s Drag Con, and continued on to headline shows in New York City, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, as well as a feature spot on the Californian based web-series ‘Hey Qween’. November 2017 saw Karen From Finance returning to the United States as a Headliner of the Austin International Drag Festival along side the likes of Milk, Latrice Royale and the UK’s Cheddar Gorgeous.
This ‘Queen of Corporate’ is a regular at hosting contestants from the smash hit show RuPaul’s Drag Race at special events by inthedark entertainment, as well as their exclusive DRAG FEST tours which have included season winners Sasha Velour, Alaska Thunderfuck, Violet Chachki, Jinkx Monsoon, Sharon Needles, Bob The Drag Queen and Raja, as well as fan favourites Katya & Trixie Mattel.
Karen co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred in the full-length independent production ‘Karen & Olympia On Ice’ with Olympia Bukkakis in early 2015, the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival hit ‘Les N Mis’ with Dean Arcuri, as well as the 2017 Adelaide Fringe show ‘Mary’s Divas’. Karen From Finance is one of the original cast members of Melbourne based cult queer cabaret ‘YUMMY’, which is touring the fringe circuits in Australia throughout 2018.
Living doll Hannie Helsden is a real life circus sweetheart. With a comprehensive background in Artistic Gymnastics, Hannie has toured extensively throughout Australia and New Zealand as a long time cast member of Circus Quirkus, performing acrobatics, aerial hoop and hula hoops. A born entertainer, she has done Fringe shows, Corporate events and Cabarets, and even has a Bachelor in Circus Arts after completing three years of full time training in Melbourne. She quickly became known, and loved, for her clever character work and high level circus skill.
Just like any dolly, Hannie loves to try new things, which sees her dance fluidly through the genres of circus, burlesque, drag, and cabaret. She is an original cast member of James Welsby’s YUMMY; A Drag Pop Cabaret which debuted in 2015 to a sold out crowd as a part of MIDWINTA Festival, and has gone on to win two Greenroom Awards for Best Ensemble (Cabaret) and Best Production (Cabaret). Some of her other credits include The Prague, The Berlin and The Stockholm Burlesque Festivals, La Soirée, MELT Stockholm, HONCHO DISKO, Circus Oz and Sina King's Burlesque 54 and Burly Q Club.
When Hannie’s not performing or hanging out in her Dreamhouse, you can find her training aerial hoop, hula hoop and pole dancing at Pole and Aerial Divas, where she has been an Aerial Syllabus Coordinator and Pole and Hoop Instructor since 2013.
"Rose steals the stage" as written by The Age, this illustrious talent has graced many from theatres to festivals and productions worldwide. Encompassing both old world and avant-garde, Zelia quickly became one of Australia's most in demand showgirls. She’s known for her vivacity and prowess having won "Best Debut" in the reputable Burlesque Hall of Fame, Las Vegas to a standing ovation. She is also the title holder of Miss Burlesque Australia 2014 & ranked in the top 10 burlesque artists worldwide (21st Century Burlesque) 3 years in a row. Her extensive skill in Dance & Vocals compliment her big stage persona and repertoire of highly conceptual acts that are sexy, dynamic and truly compelling.
Zelia is the first and only Australian to join the iconic Dita Von Teese in her worldwide touring burlesque review. She has been part of 5 smash hit tours with Dita visiting over 30 cities throughout the U.S., Australia and soon to tour for the highly anticipated European instalment of “Art of the Teese’.
Along with the plethora of performing work Zelia also teaches & choreographes having taught her own brand of dance workshops worldwide and has created choreographic works for the likes of Clairy Browne and Dita Von Teese.
Some of Zelia’s anthology include - Blanc De Blanc - Strut & Fret, Strange Fruit, Yummy the Show, Dita Von Teese’s - Art of The Teese, Dita von Teese’s - The Copper Coupe, MidSumma Festival, Holy Ship, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Melbourne Fashion Week, Australian Burlesque Festival, Empire Strips Back, Falls Festival, Virgin Australian Fashion Festival, Splendour in the Grass, Noumea Burlesque Festival, Big Sound, Melbourne Music Week, & more.
James Andrews, aka Jandruze, is an Australian dancer, dance maker and drag artist who has taken both the realms of experimental contemporary dance and the underground queer club landscape by storm.
Jandruze is a tour de force known for their unique blend of sultry seduction, high camp and the avant garde. Described as both “impossibly gorgeous” and “breathtakingly beautiful” Jandruze is swiftly cementing themselves as an icon of Australian contemporary queer performance.
A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts School of Dance (and maintaining a broader practice spanning costume, sound and visual design) James’ major credits include DARK MOFO Festival, YUMMY Productions, DISCORDIA and Hear No Evil/Speak No Evil as well as collaborations with both independent artists and major festivals/arts institutions such as Lee Serle, Antony Hamilton, The Huxley’s, Benjamin Hancock, Anastasia La Fey, Chunky Move, Supple Fox, NGV, ACCA, Art Bank and both Melbourne and Darwin Festivals to name but a few. James continues to produce their own solo dance work, with recent studio residencies at Lucy Guerin Inc, Arts House Melbourne and Performance Space Sydney, alongside regular appearances at club nights across the country including Barba Party, HONCO DISKO, LOLA (Brisbane) and AnotherTechnoParty.
With her unique combination of skills in the performance arts, production, writing and education Natasha Jynel (aka Beni Lola) has established herself as a creative powerhouse in Melbourne. After graduating from the Boston Arts Academy in 2004, with awards in technical theatre, Natasha went on to study film and photography at Emerson College on a full scholarship. In 2005, Natasha left Emerson College and immigrated to Australia where she completed studies in English literature/creative writing and education at Latrobe University. Since 2005 Natasha has worked tirelessly both behind the scenes as a producer and on stage as a performer with community based organizations and local artists to develop artistic content that focus on promoting emerging artists and promoting diversity in Australian media. In 2012 creative director Natasha Jynel launched The Fashion Market AU (FMAU) with the focus of creating a new visual narrative that acknowledges and celebrates the diverse style and beauty of contemporary Australia. Beni Lola is now a regular performer with James Welsby’s Yummy and Finuance and Smith. She has also recently produced and directed her own shows: Auto Bio Queen and Threadbare.