After lockdown affecting the day to day involvement of drag artist across the world. It was a high time to know what the next year is up for the scene of drag in India. Dragvanti, India’s Exclusive drag page came up with an idea to keep the ball rolling, with conversations.
Dragvanti has organized one of its kind online event for drag queens where they come to discuss the idea in an open discussion. With TED’s new Initiative called “TED Circle” where people come together to watch a ted talk and retrospect the idea with themselves. TED circles are volunteer-based individual event without relating to Ted. Anyone can host Ted circles to discuss an idea and create an impact which matters. TED Circles are based on Monthly themes and are organized in small groups.
Dragvanti thought of utilizing this platform to retrospect the ideas in the field of drag in south-east Asia. With the December months theme “Building Momentum”, the open discussion was to reflect on the TED Talk “The Search for Aha Moment” and comparatively discuss the idea’s parity with drag. The ted circle consisted of Drag Artists and Observers and included Radha from Sydney, Kamani Sutra from the USA, Miss Bhenji and Miss Komollika from Mumbai, Rimi Heart from Banglore, Sick from Delhi and Xen Aerat from Hyderabad and was organized by Patruni Sastry.
The discussion started quickly post the ted talk and the call was open for a quick introduction followed by pointed discussions on theme of the day. Topics such as the Relevance of South Asian drag to Collaboration within the drag community, Diversity in the art of drag to Payment and Self-integrity were discussed across the group. Delhi Based artist Sick and Baglore based artist Rimi pointed out that how being in India is the only thing which connects to the culture of Southeast Asia and Indian drag doesn’t always need to be desi, and not required always to be seen from the lenses of geographical cultures. Adding to the perspective Kamani spoke about how they need to connect to the roots as being a person performing in the USA and how it felt important to appreciate their south Asian-ness. Miss Bhenji pointed out about focusing more on creating drag within the local scene is a great option than representing it over the entire world.
Another topic which had a wide discussion was paying the drag artist and why it’s important. Rimi added that there shouldn’t be any discriminations when paying for a local artist as compared to the one established globally, as Local drag needs to flourish and that’s only possible when the local queens are paid. Miss Komollika also added that being a new queen Paid gigs help younger artists to invest on their art especially like drag where there is a huge expenditure on wigs and costumes which burns the pockets of the performers if not paid. Radha spoke about the How asking upfront about the payment had been something which helped in creating a constant awareness of making art payable and collaboration are a part of the drag scene when all the artists are mutually benefited. Sick Added how being Artists collective helps in ensuring a higher cut for getting paid and why it’s important for the artist’s community of India. Xen added that ensuring to take a corporative approach of using Invoices being sent to the hiring party would make it a more professional approach to getting paid.
There was also discussion on how the club and drag spaces are always encouraged with one set of formula and time and again drag artists are asked to follow a certain need to meet. Miss bhenji shared her experience about how she was asked to choose English music over Bollywood to meet the class status of the party and how she denied sticking to buy such advice. Rimi shared a situation where she was had to choose over lip-sync than her singing skills which she is known for to match with the less equipped logistics or danceable numbers for the audience. Time and again drag queens are told to stick to the western song to keep the classiness. Sick added that its high time we stop getting inspired by the Colonial queer culture and respect the choices of artist. As in any other job, an artist shouldn’t be told what they should do rather it’s important to buy what is offers as art shouldn’t be entitled.
The event also had some serious side topics such as Masala Chai, Haldi chai, Sugar daddy and performing drag in Restaurant. The event ended with a vote of thanks by Patruni Sastry aka Suffocated art specimen on behalf of Dragvanti and appreciated everyone’s participation. Members felt that more such discussion needs to be done and been presented to the public as that would help the scene of drag in India to flourish diamonds. ‘
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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