"People are comfortable with their ideas of masculinity and feminity. It’s almost like black and white but the world is not black and white, the life is not black and white" - Glorious Luna
1. What does "Drag" mean to you personally?
On a personal level, I see drag differently from traditional idea of Dressing up as girls. Drag is when a person puts on a character or costume and presents himself or herself as an elevated individual or as someone who is different from natural being. So Drag is presenting yourself(edited and manufactured)in a way that you’re not naturally. Drag can be anything, be it people on television, the artists or performers. For example, a performer puts on make up and costume while performing for the purpose of entertainment. So that person is doing Drag. So, Drag for me is performing in a character which is not organic,its more to do with acting. So there is a performance aspect to Drag. But again the idea of drag can vary from people to people.
2. When did you start doing drag?
So, professionally I started doing Drag at Kitty Su 2 and a half years ago. But I had been doing Drag before that around 2013. I used to run a cafeteria where I was cooking, performing and entertaining people. So I used to wear huge costumes, make up and performing in front of people to entertain them. So I started doing Drag from 2013 but professionally I’ve done Drag in 2018.
3. How did you start doing drag?
When I was doing Drag in 2013 it happened very organically, I didn’t realize I was doing Drag. I knew I was performing in costumes, make up, headgears and all crazy things but I wasn’t aware that it’s called Drag back in the days. But in retrospect, I was doing Drag. I was singing, dancing and serving people. This was the reason why my cafeteria was so famous in Bhopal, India because no other café was so open minded and inclusive. My café had all kinds of people coming from different class, sexuality etc and it was all in harmony. So I think it was because of my Drag so there Drag had a purpose.
4. When was the first time you performed in drag?
Professionally I have performed in Kitty Su on June, 2018. But my first time was in my Café in Bhopal, India. I don’t know if that counts as I wasn’t aware that I was doing Drag.
5. How would you describe your drag style?
My Drag style is all over the place, I don’t have a specific Drag style because genuinely I get bored of doing same style. So I keep trying different looks, different performances. It depends on my mood. So, I don’t have a style because I don’t believe in having a style. I know that having a style could be good but not for me. I like to be very flexible and impulsive with things. I do it intuitively. My Drag is based on my mood and the situation around me. I sing, dance and act. I do Club Kid aesthetics, Indian aesthetics and bizarre things. Not having a style also can be an act of rebel honestly. Being intuitive doesn’t mean I don’t have a plan but rather my mood in the moment. I always plan the entire act before going on stage. Because at the end of the day I’m doing it for myself. I mean the performance is for the people but at the end it should also satisfy me.
6. Criticisms can either make you or break you. What were some critics you got when you started?
Honestly, I don’t care for any criticism unless it’s constructive. Most of the criticism comes from people who have not experienced or performed in Drag. People just see it on TV or stage so they don’t know the process that goes behind it,they don't know the background. But if its constructive then I evaluate and act on it because at the end of the day I’m doing this for myself.
7. "Relevance of drag in India." What do you think?
Drag has always been part of our Indian culture. If you see Lavni there is essentially a male dressed up as woman performing with another woman. In Assamese culture we have something called Bhauna which is a theatre which happens in Namghar which is a temple basically. It’s like Ram Leela that happens where men dress up as women to perform. So, Drag has always been part of Assamese culture. I vividly remember this as a child although I wasn’t aware it is called Drag but yes it has been a part of our culture. I believe we should preserve our culture because culture is a part of our identity. Culture is a major part of any civilization. We should keep it going and we shouldn’t be ashamed of our local Drag styles.Generally some of the Queens in India are blindly copying the westerns style. I’m not saying it’s bad but having a cultural identity is important because it shapes us for who we are and shapes our civilization.
8. What was the initial reaction of your family and friends when you told them about you as a drag performer?
I’ve not come out to my parents as a Drag Queen but I’ve already come out as a queer person (gay man) which was already very stressful. So I am just taking my time because it’s a journey for me and it’s a journey for them. If you’re a gay man and a drag queen then you’ve to come out twice. But all my friends know that I am a Drag Queen they appreciate it and think its cool. But honestly it’s a job.
9. "Drag is political." Do you agree? Present your thoughts on the same.
Drag is political and I will talk from my experience because it can be different for different people. I was born as a biological male and when a man puts on a dress and makeup it’s automatically seen as an act of rebel. When people see you’re going against the system and something that is not normal for them then they feel threatened so that makes Drag more of a political statement. Most of the people are comfortable with the binary world where everything is fixed. A man and a woman have their role allotted but when a man dresses up as woman their binary identity is threatened. People don’t like that. People are comfortable with their ideas of masculinity and feminity. It’s almost like black and white but the world is not black and white, the life is not black and white. People feel threatened when non binary people, Trans people and Drag Queens go against the system and break the gender norms.
10. Do you feel drag needs to be inclusive? Why or why not?
I feel Drag needs to be inclusive because it’s an art form. And anyone can participate in doing the art they like. Anyone can do Drag irrespective of their gender, culture, sex or class.
11. Do you believe drag culture is compromised?
Drag culture started as an underground movement which is still an alternative culture. It’s still not a part of mainstream. People are not accepting it and not giving it an equal treatment. Drag is compromised in our society because its done by a minority. Drag started as an underground movement because of the patriarchal system and it is not very appreciated. The existences of queer people are not appreciated. For major part we’re a minority and like any minority in society our existence is also compromised. Even in the Drag community we are compromised by the way we’re paid and treated. Certain Queens would be treated nicely and others won’t be. The queens who are upto the mark and do western styles are more appreciated while queens who are not well refined and do Indian will be treated differently. The drag community has to learn to treat each other with kindness and love.
12. What are your thoughts on "Drag patronizing"?
Because we live in a patriarchal society and everything is binary. Queer people don't fall in the binary system. So when I put on a dress then I’m looked down upon because the society already thinks of women as secondary and then comes the female impersonators who are at the bottom most in the hierarchy. In our society queer people are seen as incompetent and when a queer man dresses up as woman they’re naturally looked down upon. So I feel Drag patronizing is not just a phenomenon in Indian society but a global phenomenon.
13. Were you ill treated/abused because you perform in drag? Please share your experience if comfortable.
Well I haven’t been ill treated because I perform in Drag. But some men who come to the club do see us as sex objects. I’ve seen this happen a few times. Other than that I’ve not seen any bad behavior. And also the clubs are mostly safe which isn't necessarily the case in other public spaces in India.
14. What is your vision through the art of drag?
I don’t have a vision with my drag but there are some things that I want to do. First thing would be authencity, which means I stay true and authentic to myself. Second would be entertainment. I would like to entertain and connect with my audience and viewers. Third would be activism, because that is my way to deliver a social message through my art. And lastly I want to be a great story teller. I want to tell a story with my costume, makeup and performance.
15. A message you'd like to give to young aspiring drag artists.
Message to young Drag artists from Glorious Luna would be, “Drag is powerful, own your power, claim your space, be authentic and true to yourself.”
Follow Glorious Luna on Instagram to support her and see her upcoming work at https://www.instagram.com/glorious_luna/
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.