PEOPLE: INFRINGE meet the lovable Daisy Puller and learn how tapping into the power of hair and drag have helped her face difficult stages in life, from getting through high school to thriving while HIV positive
Film + Interview: Michael Lindsay
Photography: Panos Damaskinidis
Words: Katharina Lina
Special Thanks to Daisy Puller + Wig Chapel
Who is Daisy? Daisy Puller is 85% hair, 15% desperation. An eyelash-batting, cocktail-sipping, happy, ditzy Miss Congeniality. “When Daisy walks into the room nobody’s gonna miss her. She’s 8 foot tall. Hair bigger than…what’s something that’s really big? Because it’s bigger than that,” Dan (Daisy’s alter ego) laughs.
“You can’t walk into a room with this huge big hair and then be a wallflower. It gives you a gateway to release that unstoppable part of yourself. We all have it. And for Daisy massive, glorious, ridiculous wigs are her way of tapping into that power”
Playing with hair and clothes has always been a creative outlet, a way to escape, and Daisy learned early on the significance of understanding the language of hair. Growing up in Toowoomba, a city in southern Queensland, Australia, Dan’s catholic school had a strict dress code forbidding boys to have long hair, much to his dismay. When he was finally allowed to sprout his Auburn ringlets, his peers assumed he was an indie kid who listened to the Foo Fighters. In reality, Dan would go home and meticulously style his hair like a 1964 swirl ponytail Barbie: “I remember I’d spend hours in the bathroom combing my fringe, trying to work out how you do that thing where you wrap the ponytail with your own hair.”
The trendy-at-the-time grunge look to which his hair length was attributed was a convenient camouflage for the fabulous truth, and Dan soon realised he could further benefit mastering the language and impact of hair. Daisy’s signature wigs – ahem, I mean Daisy’s real hair – were crafted by hair wizard Jack, the owner of Wig Chapel, and all share the same honey blonde tone.
“I really enjoy working with [Jack from Wig Chapel] because I can take three or four really random references and he manages to stitch them together into something that is more glorious, beautiful and more high end than I would ever have dreamed of myself”
“The choice to always be blonde was conscious. I feel like it’s probably because like everybody I’ve grown up under this inexorable influence of Western beauty standards. I loved all of these references from the 60s.” Dusty Springfield, the old Barbies, Veruschka – name a blonde icon from the swinging 60s and chances are Daisy is obsessed. This Western saturation of aspirational blonde beauty found its way into the minds of the youth, representing to young Dan many things that he believed he was not: gorgeous, popular, and the life of the party. “I didn’t really have very many friends. I was really weird, I didn’t fit in, I didn’t play any sports, which is the main currency in Australia. I think Daisy is my childhood idea of what a popular, glamorous, fun-loving woman would be.” Be it the blonde colour or simply an inner power tapped via the big wigs, “Daisy’s got more friends. Daisy gets bought more drinks. Daisy gets invited to more parties.”
“You put together a look, you’re gonna make sure you’ve got the right bag, or you’ve got the right shoes. Without the wigs, without the hair, it doesn’t work. That pulls it all together"
But Daisy takes care of Dan, too. In 2018, as Dan was digesting the shock of his HIV positive diagnosis and its hovering stigma, Daisy was preparing for her biggest performance ever at the Miss Sink The Pink pageant. No matter how ridiculously extravagant or flamboyant his art direction ideas were, Dan shares that his rehearsals were filled with sheer acceptance and unconditional support. “I was going through this horrible period of self loathing and shame and secretly sneaking off to doctor appointments… If I hadn’t had that outlet, that escapism of preparing Daisy for this big show, I don’t know whether Dan would have been able to cope.” Both Dan and Daisy want to contribute to raising awareness around HIV by talking about it, normalising the subject and educating the general population. Since the AIDS epidemic disproportionately affected gay men and trans women, queer communities suffered the excruciating loss of a generation of elders. “It’s important to me that Daisy can talk about it and she can be – I guess I’d like her to be one of those role models that we lost as a community.” But in true Daisy fashion, Daisy doesn’t want you to be bummed out. In fact, she says it’s a lemons and lemonade type of situation.
To laugh, party and engage in debauchery with Daisy, keep an eye out for her and Coco Femme Fontaine’s seasonal show Love Potion No. 9 or follow her on Instagram here.
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