Me, Your Desi-Drag King

A lot of people have questioned my gender identity. I have a rather dominant masculine exterior which is often mistaken for me wanting to be a man.

Photo credit: @shreela1999

I’ve been acquainted with the drag scene for almost over 4 years now. However it was only queens that I came across and I never questioned what seemed to be the status quo. It was only around a year and a half ago that I was on YouTube and a video suggestion with the title “Women Transform into Drag Kings” popped up. I was immediately drawn to it and within a few minutes I started questioning myself as to why this concept never occurred to me before. I had always ardently followed and admired several queens but now watching Landon Cider magically transform a woman into a man with her amazing contouring skills and binding techniques I knew I wanted in on this. 

A lot of people have questioned my gender identity. I have a rather dominant masculine exterior which is often mistaken for me wanting to be a man. However I’ve always felt very comfortable identifying as a woman. One of the reasons why I wanted to take up drag is to explore this masculinity that is within me. There is a certain thrill in being in disguise by painstakingly putting on facial hair, binding my breasts, contouring bone and muscle structure. I believe that this process of transformation is performance art in itself. An art that I am yet to harness the power of. For now I’ve only dipped my toes in the water. 

Photo credit: @kittykoindia

The first time I performed at Kitty Su (Delhi) which is probably the most inclusive club in India, it felt absolutely exhilarating. My drag mom, the very famous Maya The Drag Queen introduced me as her drag son after which I was called on stage to sing the Kailash Kher song “Preet Ki Lat”. The way the audience cheered for me and sang along made me feel overwhelmed with emotions that I can’t possibly put into words. 

Although this is an amazing opportunity, singing and dancing is what my performances have encompassed. However through my avatar as a drag king I would also like to discuss several social issues such as the effects our patriarchy has not just on women but on men. For example, the overburdening need to be the provider, being asked to be an almost mechanical individual devoid of emotions, always being expected to fit in perfectly square boxes. 

Photo credit: @paulineperrinstudio

The vibrancy and extravagance of the traditional costumes worn by Indian men is unlike any other in this world. I feel like that can be explored in the drag that I do. Very recently there was a girl from Meghalaya who reached out to me, asking me for directions regarding how to bind one’s breasts and do the facial hair make-up. She wanted to do transform into a tribal drag king. This is exactly what I want to do. Reach out to people, especially women and non-binary individuals in India, who’d like to explore the several realms of drag and encourage them to bring their craft to the forefront, where it can be recognised and appreciated as a form of art. 

About the guest author

Bidisha

Trained in Hindustani classical music under the tutelage of Ustaad Abdul Rashid Khan Sahib and having completed her Bachelor of Arts in music at Lasalle College Of The Arts Singapore, Bidisha is all set to take the Indian pop culture by storm, be it through music or be in through her persona as a King: Badshah Mayur. She lives by the motto “Make the money don’t let the money make you. Change the game don’t let the game change you”, something that she came across while listening to her favourite artist Macklemore. With this in mind and undying determination, she’s already started taking steps towards making India a more inclusive and accepting country.
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