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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Drag Queen Lush Monsoon Is Smashing The Patriarchy In Her Own Unique Way

  • IWB Post
  •  June 28, 2019

Of late gender has transcended the confines that it had been hitherto enclosed by. It has manifested itself both as an agency of control as well as subversion. It has been enthralling to witness how something born out of culture is being effectively employed to break free from its restraints in today’s world.

In the past couple of decades, drag has effectively resisted the violence imposed by the ideal gender norms, as prescribed by the society, on to those who are non conforming in gender and in the spirit. Drag does it too well and does it in the most celebratory way possible. It is like a non-violent struggle towards the freedom of the spirit that lies way beyond and way above the societal fetters and Ayushman is one of its dedicated exponents.

A lawyer by day, Ayushman becomes the entire act of subversion personified the instant he puts on his eyelashes and wigs and transforms into his drag avatar Lush Monsoon.

But it is not just the gender norms that he is challenging through his drag. His drag is an act of rebellion where he challenges everything that threatens to curb him, be it the gender or the body stereotypes or even the basic expectation that comes from being a part of drag.

I refuse to be conscious of my body, even though I have been fat shamed several times, even by well intentioned friends who wanted me to lose weight. Drag, however, brought all these insecurities to the forefront because the pressure to look a certain way on stage is not easily avoidable. I try to reclaim my body through drag itself, often by going for performances which are traditionally avoided by larger girls. After all, when women come in all shapes and sizes, why shouldn’t your drag queens? 😉😊 🔹 🔹 🔹 Picture Courtesy: @aaarpitaa Costume design: @sanyabatra 🔹 🔹 #drag #dragqueen #rupaul #rupaulsdragrace #rupaulbots #vossevents #werqtheworld #delhievents #mua #transformation #magic #mua #dragracethailand #violetchachki #xtina #logotv #worldofwonder #wowpresents #vh1 #indiandragqueen #lushmonsoon #performer #art #performer #rupaulsdragraces10 #delhi #dragqueensofinstagram #burlesque #delhinightlife

157 Likes, 25 Comments – LUSH (@lushmonsoon) on Instagram: “I refuse to be conscious of my body, even though I have been fat shamed several times, even by well…”

He shared with me how growing up, he didn’t get much career choices except the traditional professional courses like engineering and the like. He thus ended up pursuing law but all that while, a major part of his soul kept sniveling in oblivion. He wanted to perform.

In a world that is busy chasing big numbers and the competition is tougher than ever when it comes to choosing careers, which do parents generally in our country, is drag even a choice?

It is not! However, “It is a necessity,” as Ayushman puts it. He explains, “Drag is so essential to the queer community for claiming their space in a patriarchal society that tends to marginalise those who don’t conform to its rules. It is so essential to do it.” Makes sense?

Read the excerpts from a conversation that I had with Ayushman to know more about his views on drag and his drag avatar:

Let us begin with your duality. How did your two personalities began co-existing after you adopted drag?

It was overwhelming in the beginning. I was leading two different lives in two different worlds. While people appreciated the visual aesthetics and beauty in Lush, they appreciated the intellect in Ayushman and it took me a while to bring the two together and to come to terms with my duality. Over time as I transitioned, Lush started taking a lot from who I was as a man and similarly, the man inside me started borrowing from Lush.

The world says, “Take your identity seriously”. Drag says, “Identity is a joke”. That’s why I get to be the boy next door one day and a Glamazonian warrior princess on the other. 🔽 🔽 🔽 🔽 🔽 🔽 🔽 🔽 🔽 #drag #dragqueen #rupaul #rupaulsdragrace #rupaulbots #vossevents #werqtheworld #art #mua #kesha #vogue #madonna #dragracethailand #rupaulsdragraceallstars3 #logotv #worldofwonder #wowpresents #vh1 #dragglobal

90 Likes, 11 Comments – LUSH (@lushmonsoon) on Instagram: “The world says, “Take your identity seriously”. Drag says, “Identity is a joke”. That’s why I get…”

How have these aspects enriched your life?

Lush taught me self-love and acceptance and Ayushman taught me to be nice and kind.

Do your colleagues at work know about your drag?

Not everyone. But yes people who matter do. I just couldn’t keep myself from sharing. I felt like I was leading a dual life and that didn’t feel right. You know I would show up at work with leftover makeup from the night. Somehow it just felt natural to share and I am so thankful for all their support.

 Please introduce me to Lush Monsoon as a character.

I can’t define her as one single character. It is an embodiment of my femininity and all its forms. I use her to tell stories of women and queer people. She is like this woman who is gorgeous outside and maniacal inside.

Women in our society are forced to be constrained in certain standards of beauty and behavior when deep inside they are so much more. I want Lush to express that.

If life is a giant empty canvas, I get to draw my character afresh everytime I get in drag; each time exploring a different shade of me. 🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹 #dragqueen #dragqueenofinstagram #rupaulsdragraceallstars3 #rupaul #thisisme #kesha #popmusic #art #mua #lipsync #lsfyl #rupaulsdragrace #rupaulbots #wowpresents #logotv #localqueen #vh1 #dragqueensofindia #artist #dragracethailand

73 Likes, 3 Comments – LUSH (@lushmonsoon) on Instagram: “If life is a giant empty canvas, I get to draw my character afresh everytime I get in drag; each…”

 

And how about Lush’s style? Who inspires her?

Lush takes her style inspiration from pop-stars and divas. It is very reflective of them. She is flirty, she is feminine and she loves jumpsuits. She also is obsessed with sequins and sparkles.

Speaking of style, what does Lush think of the current fashion scene around the world?

Lush has come up in a world where fashion and drag have finally met. It is a time when drag queens are being featured in classic fashion magazines. It is a very colorful era in fashion. Wearing a sequin shirt is fashionable and not tacky anymore. People are now adopting fashion and makeup influenced by Drag. Iconic designers like Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott are inspired by it. I can’t be happier about it.

How do you think Lush is smashing patriarchy in her own unique way?

Well, Lush is doing that by subverting the first and the foremost rule of patriarchy- being a woman when it is considered a sign of weakness and undesirable to be one. I tend to forget what patriarchy can mean when I am in Delhi in my own little bubble of drag. It is when I go back to my home town Ranchi that I realize how gendered the society really is. My mom freaks out every time she sees my waxed hands or pierced ears. She always asks ‘why did you do this?’

“Everybody wants to make an impression, some mark upon the world. Then you think, you’ve made a mark on the world if you just get through it, and a few people remember your name. You don’t have to bend the whole world. I think it’s better to just enjoy it. If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you!” – Dorian Corey, Paris is Burning. #dragqueens #drag #parisisburning #rupaulsdragraceallstars3 #rupaulsdragrace #werktheworldtour #queer #rupaulsdragraceseason9 #rupaul #art #documentary #wowpresents #logotv #localqueens #vagabomb #heyqweentv

55 Likes, 6 Comments – LUSH (@lushmonsoon) on Instagram: “”Everybody wants to make an impression, some mark upon the world. Then you think, you’ve made a…”

So your family doesn’t know about your drag?

Not at all! Well, I think my mom some way or the other has an idea. She knows that I love performance but all she knows is that I am into the theatre, not drag.

I do acknowledge that we all have our different journeys and what happens for someone almost instantly takes a lot of time for others. But do you plan to come out to them?

Of course! It is always almost on the tip of my tongue. I just want to ensure that I am there for them when they come to know about it.

At times I show them, my interviews, but only the part where I am talking as a boy (laughs). There is always something or the other, some remark or some incident that stops me from confiding. I am not scared about what would happen to me when it happens, I am scared about them. I am the only child and I don’t want to lose them because of this.

What has been the most powerful moment on the stage for you?

I recently performed as a housewife and that felt extremely powerful.

Even in drag, there are certain expectations from you. Dressing up as the housewife was my way of saying ‘no’ to the beauty and glamour expectations within the community. I went beyond them because I felt that it was a story that was important to tell.

Speaking of dressing up, please tell me about your pre-stage rituals. What is the process of getting into the character like?

Getting into the character is like an act of self-love. It takes me three hours just to get ready. It is by appreciating my physicality that I gradually get into the mold of Lush. It’s in the final stages when I put on the eyelashes and the wig that you can see the charter emerging out. It is my way of taming my space and claim ownership over myself and be proud of who I am.

Give us a sneak peek into how drag works as a community? Please throw some light on the internal workings, the structure and hierarchies.

The way we know drag in India right now, it is still in its initial phase. The system is still building and it will take a little while for hierarchies to develop.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Ummm… Sometimes good, sometimes bad. There are times when I long for a drag mentor who has been in the game and hence can teach me and guide me. On the other side the fact that it is still so fresh and new and there are no pre-defined structures, gives us more artistic freedom.

What would be that one message that you’d like to send across to the world?

We are all here just for a short time. So please don’t take anything too seriously, be it gender, caste, religion or anything else. We are all so riled up about things that don’t even actually matter. My advice is to play with everything that’s available and just be kind to everyone. Also, everybody should do drag once.

“I am what I am, I am my own special creation 🎵” At Delhi International Queer Theatre and Film Festival, 2017. ▶️▶️▶️ Thank you @harmlesshugs for organising this event and for this photo. #dragqueen #drag #rupaulsdragraceallstars3 #rupaulsdragraceseason9 #rupaul #rupaulsdragrace #heyqweentv #heyqween #diqtff #queer #logotv #wowpresents #lacageauxfolles #thebirdcage #iamwhatiam #localqueen

56 Likes, 3 Comments – LUSH (@lushmonsoon) on Instagram: “”I am what I am, I am my own special creation 🎵” At Delhi International Queer Theatre and Film…”

First published on Jul 4, 2018.

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