Baatein with Bhenji ft. Seventeen XVII

"I'm happy to explain my thought process, if they don't vibe with it, it’s on them." - Seventeen


1. What does "Drag" mean to you personally?


I find my best comforts in front of my alter, strutting inches longer than the mouth that runs around and keeping 17 in check cuz he has a never ending love for art . That was the opening, right? *sips virtually*


2. When did you start doing drag?


Disneyland was shooketh on Halloween 2019.


3. How did you start doing drag?


How? it was smooth I'd say, I started aligning together all my interests and pushing them into a more constructive way, but more than building your aesthetic and working on your skills, for me it was an amazing process to know the roots of SEVENTEEN.


4. When was the first time you performed in drag?


The very first time , that was new years eve 2020.


5. How would you describe your drag style?


Got Gram for blueprints but ( broadly smiles ) never gonna repeat glory in one sphere. My drag style is ever growing and I work towards broadening it with every look I do, be it goth, glam, anime-ish or I could just clubkid myself out any day. My drag is a journey and I invite you to witness it and have fun along.


6. Criticisms either make you or break you. What were some critics you got when you started?


People who do not understand this art form, I'm happy to explain my thought process, if they don't vibe with it, it’s on them. They are gonna come but well we should have learnt by now how to have a party with fools around and how to take good ones into consideration, its 2021. I vibe with artists not critics but you sure can drop in a constructive one, I love me some of that.



7. "Relevance of drag in India." What do you think?


The existence and relevance has been very much there, its for us to appreciate that and take it forward in a beautiful way. For me, relevance of drag in ones' life is bigger than that for a nation, why because, if there are more queer artists popping , its gonna be a revolution in Indian Drag and that is when we can see it happen.



8. What the initial reaction of your family and friends when you told them about you as a drag performer?


There wasn't any reaction as such that was conveyed to me in that moment, cuz it happened via text, friends were pretty supportive, they'd accompany me to my gigs and that was very sweet of them. I had my people out there. Family, well they were concerned about how satiating is the queer nightlife for me to explore my fantasies in a la la land which they weren't very sure about back then and I dropped two bombs in a row so yeah.


9. "Drag is political." Do you agree? Present your thoughts on the same.


It can be if your intentions are in that direction. we can provoke thoughts and as a matter of fact we do everytime we walk around being our very queer selves. For us, this is who we are, if you do not value valid stuff, things get political and if you can express it through your art , it's liberating and inspiring at the same time.


10. Do you feel drag needs to be inclusive? Why or why not?


It should be and it is, I believe that yes, there are stereotypes , but more than anything else, we all fall under the mighty rainbow and if that pride guides us to do something , we absolutely should, instead of aiming for the mere tag. It's more about, feeling present that makes the difference rather than fighting the norms in certain delicate situation like this. Drag is an art form, anyone can drag it out if they have love for it and i guess one should meet their alter , atleast once in their life.


11. Do you believe drag culture is compromised?


Things are moving forward. The drag scene here is very niche for now , but we are experimenting and trying our hands at it in a very beautiful way. Everything new takes time to bloom and this is god damn culture, a community. But thanks to trailblazers we have in our nation, who have paved the way for it to be out there .


12. What are your thoughts on "Drag patronizing"?


I mean you can call your people out if you want to but you cannot expect everyone to not have an opinion on the way things are when it comes to Drag artistes, once we continue in a full-fledged direction towards broadening our work , I don't think so Drag shall be put down.


13. Were you ill treated/abused because you perform in drag? Please share your experience if comfortable.


Drag uplifts my very self. I feel empowered in it, i do not think i have had an experience like that before.


14. What is your vision through the art of drag?


I honestly love poking my hets but sometimes you just gotta present things in a better way to make it more valuable.


15. A message you'd like to give to young drag artists.


Take that next step even if its a little challenging, working on that foundation is so very important , Just don’t sit on it and Never feel sorry for feeling like one.


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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.



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