Andy Goes To Asia

Saigon’s Drag Queens

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*** An article I wrote for AsiaLIFE magazine about drag queens in Ho Chi Minh City. An absoloute hoot to write. Here’s a cheeky taste of the eleganza:

Christina is out of drag, in a white sweater and blue chinos, sitting on a bar stool at Republic Bar in District 1, her regular performance venue. She shows me pictures of herself in drag; adorned in towering headdresses and shapely gowns, she poses for the camera like a supermodel alongside her drag sisters.

“[Great drag queens] have a natural, innate talent that they have a chance to unleash onstage,” says Christina with the help of an interpreter.

Christina, who goes by Nguyen Huy Vu in her everyday life, has over 10 years of experience in the world of drag. By day, she is at work in her main jobs as a professional dancer and clothing designer. But a few times a month, the nails are on, the wig is fit and her passion is unleashed onstage with a fanfare of lights and music.

There are a growing number of individuals like Christina in Saigon, taking the art of being a drag queen to a professional level. Across the city, more and more venues are opening up for these ostentatious performers, from local funerals to nightclubs.

Still, drag is relatively new in Vietnam. It wasn’t until 2008 that performances began to take place in nightclubs and bars. Before that, drag queens would grace the stage at places like saunas or cafes, local funerals or lottery-style ‘lucky-door’ events, where contestants choose from behind a door in a bid to win money. With the introduction of a club scene, however, professional drag was born, complete with heavy makeup, elaborate costumes, lip-syncing performances and comedy…

* Read the rest of the article on  AsiaLIFE’s website, here:

Saigon’s drag queens

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