I first visited Sydney about 28 years ago. I'd been in India for a month or so with a tour party organised by the Religious Studies Department of Victoria University of Wellington. We had a night at the People's Palace in the Cross on our way home from Singapore.
I went with two people to a pizza parlour and encountered a group of young Aussie suburbanites who'd come into the Cross to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show which screened continuously for years. Although the sheilas were all dressed in regular Friday night going out clobber the blokes were wearing black corsets and fishnets and too much make-up.
It was somewhere between garish misogynistic Rotary Club fund-raising drag and serious cross-dressing. Somehow it was a useful stop off experience between the confronting otherness of India, the manic capitalism/tourism of Singapore and the dreariness of early-1980s Wellington.
Now that binge-drinking is the main nocturnal activity in night-time Sydney men dressed like that are bashed by men like the ones who used to dress like that, as a laugh, 28 years ago.
The Mardi Gras may move to Homebush because Oxford Street, Darling-it-hurts, etc have been abandoned to the self-destructive. Too much revenue in alcohol for the situation to change much. It seems a million schooners away from stilettos and pizza.