"Some people won’t talk to me just because I do drag also, which I find very absurd. But I see it as their loss. They are missing out on all of this fabulousness. " - Cumsin Haseena.
1. What does "Drag" mean to you personally?
I think Drag is how I fuck around with gender and society’s norms. I like breaking stereotypes and that was one of the major reasons why I started doing drag. Drag, is a lot more than just an art form for me. It is also a way for me to explore the feminine side of me.
2. When did you start doing drag?
I think I started off sometime in 2017. Though I had always liked dressing up in the so called “feminine clothes”, I thinki finally mustered the courage to put on a dress and heels only in 2017.
3. How did you start doing drag?
I always liked to dress up. But coming from a small city, obviously I never got an opportunity to wear a dress or put on some heels. When I moved to Pune for college, that was when I started doing all of it. I would also host gender bender parties at my place where even straight guys would wear their girlfriends’ clothes and come. When I started getting some compliments that what I was doing was great, I continued doing it then.
4. When was the first time you performed in drag?
It was at a Queer Art festival in Pune where I performed solo for the first time. I still remember how nervous I was as it was the first time I was going on stage all alone (I had done a few group dances in college but never did a solo). People were whistling and screaming so I guess they did like the performance. And then there was no stopping me!
5. How would you describe your drag style?
My drag style is as desi as it gets. Inspired by Madhuri and Sridevi, most of my performances have been on their songs. Also, I usually keep my beard on when I do drag (Which apparently people don’t like, but I do)
6. Criticisms either make you or break you. What were some critics you got when you started?
I have received an equal amount of love and hate. I mostly focus on love though. Some close friends have always supported me, even when I knew I fucked up my performance. But there will always be some people who will hate you. They might not say everything on my face but one always finds out. Some people won’t talk to me just because I do drag also, which I find very absurd. But I see it as their loss. They are missing out on all of this fabulousness. Hahhaha!
7. "Relevance of drag in India." What do you think?
Hasn’t drag always been there in India? I remember watching Natrang and how happy it made me when I saw such a positive representation of drag.
8. What the initial reaction of your family and friends when you told them about you as a drag performer?
My mom was a bit uncomfortable with the idea. But when she saw some of my dance moves, I think she was happy with it. Friends have always been super supportive. They always encourage me to do better too by giving me their honest feedback!
9. "Drag is political." Do you agree? Present your thoughts on the same.
For me, it’s more fun and breaking stereotypes. So I try and keep all the politics away when I am in drag.
10. Do you feel drag needs to be inclusive? Why or why not?
Of course, drag has to be inclusive. If we, within our own communities are not inclusive, then how can we expect everyone outside to be inclusive of us. For ex, me doing bearded drag, I’ve heard some other drag queens call me lazy and it to be “incomplete drag”.
11. Do you believe drag culture is compromised?
I don’t think so which I think is the beauty of drag. Everyone interprets drag in their own way which can be so different from someone else’s perception of it.
12. What are your thoughts on "Drag patronizing"?
That is something I hate. There are guys on Grindr who will have some good conversation with me. Once they check out my social media and that I do drag, they will either block me or tell me that they are not comfortable meeting drag queens. I mean, I am not gonna show up at their place in drag! But again, their loss! They are missing out on a lot of fun.
13. Were you ill-treated/abused because you perform in drag? Please share your experience if comfortable.
Luckily, I haven’t. There was this one time I was wearing heels to a party with a T-shirt and a guy came up to me asking “What the fuck bro?” I just really don’t understand these fools. Sometimes I do try and educate them(When I have the time) but otherwise, I just ignore them.
14. What is your vision through the art of drag?
My vision would be to see the art form grow. I still feel it hasn’t been completely accepted in India. I want drag to be out there in the mainstream, have regular drag events, have drag shown in mainstream media and someday have RuPaul’s Drag Race India happening too!
15. A message you'd like to give to young drag artists.
You slay queens! Let’s all get together and take over the world. Hahaha. But please reach out if you need any help or support, I’ll try my best to do whatever I can. You can teach me some makeup in return hahaha. Let’s all grow together?
Follow Cumsin Haseena on Instagram to support her and see her upcoming work at https://www.instagram.com/cumsin_haseena/
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.