PORT Macquarie queen Holly Wood, also known as Sam Merryfull, has dazzled the judges with a stunning four-part performance, which included a live snake, to win the coveted Drag Hero crown at Rydges on Saturday night.
More than 100 people enjoyed the glitz and sequined glamour of the event which saw seven drag queens and one drag king claim their own piece of the stage before a panel of five judges.
Hours of preparation, weeks of training and the addition of a snake to his diva lip syncing performance and beautiful tribute to Celine Dion ensured Holly Wood reigned supreme. And the competition was fierce with Vanity Wild, Indi Pendent, Lucy Furr, Honey Moonshine, Rhea Listik and Ziggy Discoballs all vying for the queen diva title.
Sam is well known locally in performing arts circles having trained as a dancer with Francessca Louise Academy of Dance, and later with Wauchope and Port Macquarie Performing Arts and Extreme Dance Studio. He has also featured in productions at Players Theatre.
"I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing," Sam said on Sunday after a long night of celebrating.
"I had left it to the last minute, I didn't know if I was going to enter or not so that left me with just a couple of weeks when you would normally have months to prepare."
It was Sam's second foray into competitive performance after dipping his toe into the Drag Hero event three years ago. But the feedback from all five judges indicates he is well and truly on his way to becoming a star.
"They all said how far I'd come since I performed last time. That I had left them speechless. I think I got a standing ovation after every one of my performances," he said.
"I told those city girls beforehand that us country girls were going to show them how it's done."
And deservedly so. One performance included the addition of a friend's pet snake draped carefully over his shoulder as he delivered his Diva performance.
"I just thought if it bites me, I'm just going to have to go with it - the show must go on!"
His proud mum Vicki Wilkinson was in the audience and could not have been more thrilled with her son's win while dad Stephen Merryfull wasted no time phoning through his congratulations.
Sam hopes to continue on the competitive drag queen circuit gaining more experience in Canberra and Melbourne with the hope he can work his talents fulltime.
A portion of the profits from the Drag Hero competition will be donated to the Bago Magic Performance Group.