Ben Graetz is a beautiful human being filled with love, generosity, curiosity and talent. He's also a proud indigenous man from the Northern Territory, gay, a drag queen and my friend.
You know those moments when you meet someone and you're filled with warmth and joy? Well that's what happened when I met Ben. I'm pretty sure that happens to everyone who comes into his orbit - he's just got that thing going on which makes him a joy to be around. Born in Darwin to an indigenous mother and a German, English, Irish father, Ben came into the world with performance flowing through his veins. He studied theatre at WAAPA in Perth, NIDA in Sydney and the VCA in Melbourne honing his craft and finding his theatrical rhythm.
Ben is the writer, actor and director of a remarkable play called the Gift of Life. a heartfelt and informative story of an Indigenous woman who is struggling with end stage kidney disease, and follows her journey through the difficult process of dialysis, to receiving a kidney transplant. It is a story about family, loss and love and the extraordinary gift of giving through organ and tissue donation. Yes, there is a serious side to Ben and his work as a theatre professional and then there’s the flipside to it all. On his 25th birthday Ben gave birth to the shimmering and incredibly dynamic Miss Ellaneous - Miss E to many - and she’s been run off her sparkling stilletos ever since.
For the past 15 years Ben and Miss E have had an extensive career on and off the stage. Together they have performed throughout Australia and internationally to great acclaim. It’s through Ben’s talent as a performer, that has established Miss Ellaneous as one of Australia’s finest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Drag Queens. Some her highlights include performing in the Darwin and Dreaming Festivals with ‘Constantina Bush and the Bushettes’ and in 2013 & 2015 with the ensemble from the all female hit show ‘Brown Honey’. She has also appeared in the feature film ‘Spear’ and is a regular TV Host with SBS NITV. Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the largest of its kind in the world and this year celebrates its 40th Anniversary.
The parade brings Sydney to a standstill and is a night of passion and pride;a colourful extravaganza with a cast of thousands. Ben and Miss E has been involved with every single aspect of the float -from driving the truck of the float, being a volunteer marshal and main choreographer of the lead float of the parade. He has also produced and directed the last 3 Darwin and NT Floats. The 2017 Darwin Float took away one of only three commendation awards for best community float. Always one for a party, Ben and friends decided to start the Departure Lounge (aka the Party Passport) in 2014.
The ultimate party shop Party Passport has grown from a little gig in Darwin to throwing the most fabulous parties around Australia and beyond. To date 20 pop up parties & events with hosts Miss Ellaneous & Marzi Panne have taken party events from drab to fab.Joined by intertstate/ local DJ’s and premium entertainers abound, the team at Party Passport are just getting started! Currently Director of Party Passport and working towards the 2018 NT Mardi Gras Float, Ben is also creating a new brand of festival to be launched in Darwin in late 2018. Ben Graetz is the ultimate chameleon with a highly developed ability to change colour at will. Change colour, clothes, stilletos and location. One thing that doesn’t change however, is his passion, love and curiosity.
Thank glittering God for that.