Maude Boate to become a marriage celebrant
LISMORE drag queen and artist Maude Boate, aka Michael Gates, is planning to set up a bridal business empire.
Gates has enrolled in a course to become a certified marriage celebrant in early 2018.
The performer said he has a long list of skills to offer a wide variety of services to grooms and brides.
"I had a bridal salon from 2007 to 2011; I love doing weddings and frocks, consultations and all that," he said.
As Maude or Michael, the artist plans to offer services for same-sex and heterosexual couples. He will tap on his skills in bridal gowns, reception, decoration, make up, live bands and other special one-off requests.
"I've been around wedding, grooms and brides for quite some time, and I get a buzz from helping people on their big day because, let's face it, it's a big show for your special day.
"I have been pondering with this idea since the marriage equality issue started, in 2007.
"I bought my bridal salon thinking that marriage equality may come into fruition in a couple of years... well, it's taken a lot longer than that.
Michael Gates said he has done three ceremonies for same-sex couples in the last year already, and expects business to boom from 2018.
"It's just a natural step from me," he said.
Mr Gates, who was a TAFE teacher in costume making, is planning to offer his services nation-wide.
"I can see Byron Bay as a great place for my services - I'd do celebrity weddings too - I could go all over the country and if someone wants a big wedding overseas, let's talk!" he said.
"I can be a one-stop shop for a small elegant gathering in Lismore or a big bash in Byron, Sydney or New York.
"The service can be done by Maude or Michael, or one can officiate and the other can MC the reception. I can cater for many needs.
"I would never outdo the bride, or the groom, I would not wear a gown that would obliterate the bride or groom; Maude as a wedding celebrant will be more demure as a part of their special day, not the centrepiece."
As Maude, Gates has won 18 DIVA Awards (Drag Industry Variety Awards) and in 2007 was inducted into the DIVA Hall of Fame as an iconic Australian performer.