"My vision has always been to make a life for myself which is so Colorful, inclusive and inspiring that my past could never come back." - Cologne Doll.
1. What does "Drag" mean to you personally?
Drag is something that means a lot to me as it has made me accept myself better, given me confidence and made me realize how important is to love yourself in a healthy way. And i feel so pretty which I never thought I could, so in a way it gave me a hope that dreams can come true.
2. When did you start doing drag?
I guess I have always been interested in things considered as feminine since childhood, which I buried inside me as society was ruthless towards an androgynous kid like me while growing up, but in college, I was taken to my first drag show by my seniors and gradually I realized that I wanna get into that.
3. How did you start doing drag?
Although I did it secretively and didn’t tell anyone for some time as I wanted to learn to paint, walk and train myself a bit before stepping on the stage.
4. When was the first time you performed in drag?
December 2019 was my first performance in Hylife, Hyderabad. It was like a sense of satisfaction i never had before but still hungry for more.
5. How would you describe your drag style?
My drag style is very much like a love child of Lana del rey and Amy winehouse. Even my name is from one of Lana's song. You would usually see a mix of a dumb lady, sass and lots of smart entertainment.
6. Criticisms can either make you or break you. What were some critics you got when you started?
Criticism is necessary as you need to have something to throw in trash. Although, I never went out of my way to show my drag off to every other person as I never felt the need to, only to a few people who mattered to me. online trolls/ haters have dm me a few times about my art and things they hate about me but I really cannot spend me energy there. So To all those- Bye Felicia.
7. "Relevance of drag in India." What do you think?
India has not always been this homophobic. We all have come across legit documented proofs how being queer was accepted in ancient times, the way everyone was treated just and had resposibilities in a certain way. But Now I feel its the time to make ourselves visible and heard as times again are changing and new generations are more accepting, woke and have realised that not just queer but non- queer people too have been crushed under all the societal construct. Making drag not just relevant but necessary for you, me, queer, straight, table, chair whatever you identify as.
8. What was the initial reaction of your family and friends when you told them about you as a drag performer?
I have a few friends (who matters), to whom I did tell about my performing in drag. Everyone has been very excited actually. Some of them were surprised but they find it very badass. So it was a positive reaction.
Although my family doesnt know about me and I dont thin they would anytime soon. I am just gonna take time to comeout when I feel ready.
9. "Drag is political." Do you agree? Present your thoughts on the same.
Not just Drag but I feel whenever a person decides to be themselves by any means, they are making a political statement. Although drag is very visible so it attracts a lot of attention too, thus making a political statement either they want it or not.
10. Do you feel drag needs to be inclusive? Why or why not?
Yes yEs and YES. Drag is inclusive. It has always been the place where a lot of mistreated and unheard people have come to find solace, which usually was gay men and trans women but similarly now trans men, cis women too are here and it's their right to be with their community. No one person has copyrights to drag, hence I can put my horse in drag too if I want. (Gag on that)
11. Do you believe drag culture is compromised?
I don't feel that drag culture is compromised as its usually an individuals take on drag, always. It's been great as a ballroom culture and even its subtle entrance in the mainstream in one or the way is also applaud worthy. The only issue I feel is the compromise in artists, a lot of projects would rather take a straight person to portray a queen or a trans individual rather than getting a real person with real experiences
It's like taking advantage of the community but not sharing the reward.
12. What are your thoughts on "Drag patronizing"?
I feel drag patronizing is necessary for a country like India as there are so many misconceptions about it. Having a solid patron for queens and kings would definitely help them to get better visibility and uplifting this community.
Although, patronising drag queens is very common ill-treatment that a lot of cis men, cis gay men, cis women etc do. It is like looking down upon or making fun of, leading them to feel less than. That's why drag queens develop a real thick skin after awhile in business.
13. Were you ill-treated/abused because you perform in drag? Please share your experience if comfortable.
I have never been physically abused due to drag. I do look passable because of my small frame but thats just my drag aesthetic.I know queens who have experienced really bad treatment which can never be justified. But everyone of us do get threats and hatred on social media (usually men). This made me realise that these "men" dont hate just us, they do same violence to all women. So its the Feminine energy they are scared off, they can't hate something which they are scared of so they try to destroy it.
14. What is your vision through the art of drag?
My vision has always been to make a life for myself which is so Colorful, inclusive and inspiring that my past could never come back. I want to love and be loved, eat good food and die on a beach. The only thing I wanna be famous for is being myself
15. A message you'd like to give to young aspiring drag artists.
Start performing as soon as you can. Practice your mug or whatever side by side. Dont wait to show people what all you can do. Dont take things seriously and take your payment upfront. Finally, love yourself bitch!
Follow Cologne Doll on Instagram to support her and see her upcoming work at https://www.instagram.com/thecolognedoll/
About author : Miss Bhenji is an Indian aesthetic drag queen. She's a dancer, actor and a comedian. She's based out of Nagpur and her interview talk show is called Baatein with Bhenji. Baatein with Bhenji was an initiative taken by Miss Bhenji to interview the queer artists of India to give them exposure for people to learn more about them.