Ballina entertainer Tobin Saunders, aka Vanessa Wagner, is chuffed at being named in a top 25 gay and lesbian influential list.
Ballina entertainer Tobin Saunders, aka Vanessa Wagner, is chuffed at being named in a top 25 gay and lesbian influential list.

Ballina drag queen in top 25

‘PROFESSIONAL show-off’ Vanessa Wagner, of South Ballina, has been named in the top 25 most influential gay and lesbian people in Australia.

The list was released today by leading gay website SameSame.com.au, and includes high profile people such as Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham, singers Sia and Tim Campbell, MTV’s Ruby Rose, former High Court justice Michael Kirby and Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown.

Tobin Saunders, the man who created the Vanessa Wagner character, said he was ‘chuffed and excited’ about the honour.

“It’s nice to be acknowledged. I’m not an academic or a politician, although I’m elements of those things,” he said.

“It’s a thrill and an honour to be on the list.”

Mr Saunders has been performing for about 30 years and he said it wasn’t all sequins and glamour.

“It’s exhausting. The pay is s*** and people don’t respect you sometimes. Ultimately, society can still be pretty homophobic,” he said.

“I wish I’d had more mainstream success, because I know I’m funnier and smarter than a lot of the people you see on the television stations.”

Mr Saunders has also spent a lot of time working for charities across Australia and on the Northern Rivers.

The Same Same 25 list aims to acknowledge the ‘next generation of gay and lesbian role models’.


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