Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. That’s Kumar, Singapore’s drag super-star.
By Shobha Tsering Bhalla
In a parallel that echoes the Jewish community’s dominance of New York’s arts arena, Singapore’s tiny ethnic Indian community plays an equally significant role in the island-state’s growing performing arts scene.
Although ethnic Indians constitute only 9 per cent of the mainly ethnic-Chinese population, some of the most famous performing arts icons in Singapore are Indian.
Arguably the most famous of them is gay super-star Kumar Chinnadurai, who made his name as a drag queen comedian back in the early 1990’s at the now-defunct comedy and dance club the Boom Boom Room. At a time when no one dared to speak about gay issues or politics, the talented 42-year-old pushed the boundaries by cracking outrageous jokes about sex, race and government, against a lush backdrop of over-the-top cabaret dance performances, lip-syncing, traditional Indian dance routines and hunky go-go boys.
Today, he is a household name, beloved of gays and squares alike. And he is in big demand appearing in comedy acts at 3 Monkeys and Hard Rock Café as well as on TV and in plays. He was even featured as the focus of Kumar: The Queen, a mega-production by Dream Academy in 2007.
In a sign that he has now become practically mainstream, even an upmarket establishment like the Esplanade has been playing host to Kumar’s new stand-up performance, Kumar: Stripped Bare and Standing Up.
In this show, which launched in March 2009, Kumar tells his life story: his struggles with society and authority in Singapore, transition from school to the army to 18 years of showbiz, always the odd man out. Stripped bare of go-go dancers, and other gaudy props, the act is just a one-man show – Kumar and the naked truth.
More - Read the eMagazine
You've been reading an edited version of an article from the India Se magazine. To read the latest edition of the complete magazine - click here. (The eMagazine opens in a new window and runs on Flash 8)
or Subscribe to the Print Edition of India Se Magazine
You can subscribe to the Print Edition of the magazine for just S$48 for the whole year (save 20% off the retail price if you order online)..