'Lady Gaga piqued my interest in drag'

Published: Jul 15, 2019, 11:09 IST | Shunashir Sen |

We fire questions at Pangina Heals, Thailand’s premier drag queen, who will perform in Mumbai next week

What is the drag culture like in Thailand?
Drag culture in Thailand is quite a new phenomenon. But it’s picked up because of shows like Drag Race Thailand, because people now understand that drag as an art form is something that anyone can do despite their gender. People aren’t confused anymore thinking that being a trans person and a drag person is the same thing. In Thailand, we have a big culture of showgirls, where trans women practise the art of drag as well. People now understand that that’s not the same thing. There are cabaret shows; there are drag shows, and they are different and amazing at the same time. So drag is becoming more mainstream than before, and penetrating into the venues and party places during the day, too. It’s not just restricted to nightclubs anymore.

How did your own interest in drag begin?
My interest in drag began through Lady Gaga. All the people around her are gay. They do make-up on her, they do performance arts with her and it’s inspiring to see a woman like her be influenced by the drag culture. And I’m interested in strong women, whether it’s Lady Gaga, Judy Garland or Marilyn Monroe. They are all people who have overcome struggles in their lives to become divas and use their talent to overcome all their hardship, and that’s the strength that gay life is all about.
What sort of a role do you think drag performances play in ensuring a more equal society?
Drag is important because not only is it personal, but it’s also political, like if you go back to the Stonewall Riot. Most people don’t know that gay people have had a revolution already, and the first person who threw punches at cops during that revolution was a drag queen who took a brick and started swinging it. So, at the time, despite being a minority, we had a clash with society. Drag queens are also people who move culture forward, whether it’s fashion, make-up or even political. We are a kind of ani-culture culture, so we are inspiring in our own right.

How much do you know of the drag culture in India, and who are some of the drag artistes from here who you are familiar with?
First of all, I am inspired by strong people who allow drag queens to be showcased, like Mr Keshav Suri. To have a beautiful club like Kitty Su where people can be free is an amazing thing. It’s a noble thing. I also know some famous queens like Miss Rani, the winner of Mr Gay Asia 2014, and Betta Non Stop. They are very sweet, talented and funny as well.

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