CHENNAI: Be prepared on May 20 to be dazzled and awestruck, for Chennai is hosting its first exclusive drag show.
The Gabrielle Show, hosted by Jabez Kelly aka Gabrielle Jasmine Marquez, and his two friends, Roxie L Marquez and Fatty Bao, is all set to thunder into the city, and leave you gasping for more.
So what is a drag show? “Drag shows are not merely cross-dressing; they’re about blurring the gender lines and stereotypes. For instance, people say a man cannot wear a dress and cannot be feminine. That’s rubbish!” says Gabrielle.
Working as a fashion consultant in Chennai, Gabrielle first performed drag at Chennai Rainbow Film Festival (CRFF) organised by Chennai Dost, an LGBTQIA organisation based in Chennai, in January this year. “I was apprehensive to perform the first time. Drag culture is still new in India. I was worried about the people’s reaction. But audiences actually liked the performance,” recalls Gabrielle.
The positive response pushed him to shift to a full-time career in drag since 2017. ‘The Gabrielle Show’ is more about recognising the LGBTQIA community and also shunning body-shaming. “I want people to remember there is no specific gender line in clothing, behaviour, or body language. A man can wear anything he wants to and vice versa. Everyone is unique. It’s all about embracing them for themselves,” he says.
The show will include a glamorous fun night of music and dance; it will also have roasts and comics. There will be a form called ‘Roast me Momma’ at the ticket booths, where the viewer’s name, age, sex and sexuality and other details can be filled, by who ever wants to be roasted. “People nowadays get insulted and offended by every single thing another person has to say,” he laughs, playfully warning anyone who will be offended to stay away. The show will also include a Bharatanatyam performance titled ‘Transcending;’ by Tejasingh.
He admits that organising a drag show in a conservative city like Chennai was a challenge. “Many event premises were not LGBTQIA-inclusive. There’s a misconception that drag is performed only by the LGBTQIA community. But there are heterosexual men also, who do drag. It took a long while to find a place to perform, like Backyard,” avers Gabrielle.
Moreover, he feels that people are afraid to even attend such events as they are scared to see a man in women’s clothing. “The only thing you have to be afraid of being roasted,” he laughs. Later this month, The Gabrielle Show is going on a world tour, starting with Australia, Thailand and more countries are on the charts.
‘The Gabrielle Show’ will be held at Backyard, Adyar, on May 20. Tickets are available on the spot for Rs 300
A social event where performers dress up as the opposite gender and sing, lip-synch or dance to songs while performing a pre-planned pantomime. They often put on extravagant costumes and makeup, and sometimes dress to imitate famous personalities of the opposite sex. The origin of the term ‘drag’ is uncertain, but is rumoured to have its root in 19th Century theatre slang, from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor.