Hong Kong Drag Kings Charting a New Path for Comedic LGBT Representation
April 18, 2023
The practice of drag kings, that involves female performance artists dressing in masculine drag and personifying male gender stereotypes, has been long embraced by the LBGT community for centuries in our corner of the world.
From the middle of the Tang dynasty (617 to 908) in China, “female men” characters were represented in stage performance, all the way through the 19th and 20th centuries in the nation.
One troupe called K.I.N.G.S, formed by four Hong Kongers, are embracing the ancient performance practice in 2023, shining light on an underrepresented theatrical performance within the LGBT community.
Group members Uncle Apollo, Gin Pan, Boy Bawang and Jamie Blue sit down with The Beat Asia to introduce Hong Kong’s newest theatrical troupe.
What is a drag king and why is its role important for the LGBT community?
Jamie Blue (JB): A Drag King is traditionally a person who identifies as a female and plays a character of a male person. This definition has expanded to include males who want to portray a bigger version of themselves. They are called Bio Kings, it is under the Drag King umbrella. It is important to the LGBT community because it celebrates expression, creates a safe space for people to express and celebrate masculinity, just as drag queens do with exploring femininity.
Boy Bawang (BB): It is important because it offers a multifaceted representation of girls (and not only the queer ones). Representation is important! There are a hundred ways to be a girl, to be queer, and we showcase that diversity in drag.
Why did you create the group and bring drag king culture to Hong Kong?
JB: K.I.N.G.S is a group formed by the drag kings within Dragjam. We decided to create a group mostly because we got along well, and also because there is something special in a group of drag kings together. Which as far as our knowledge, this had not been done before in Hong Kong.
Our group includes Uncle Apollo (@uncle.apollooo), Gin Pan (@king.ginpan), Boy Bawang (@boy_bawanggg) and myself, Jamie Blue (@jamieblueking). We hope to be able to showcase the uniqueness of expressing masculinity in a silly way.
BB: Because bros support bros! Queer friendship and solidarity are so important. For many queers, we relate a lot to “chosen family” because we grew up around people who are mostly heterosexual and could not provide guidance in exploring our identity.
If you find three other girls who are as curious about their individualities as you are, who are cool and friendly, why not start a drag king group?
How do you explore gender identity through your acts as drag kings?
BB: I like to combine my masculinity and femininity into my drag. Sometimes, you’ll see me doing a hip thrust, and then, ten seconds later, I’ll be doing a more feminine dance move. I just let myself have fun with it and express myself without limitation.
Gin Pan (GP): When it comes to "exploring gender identities" & "drag", we usually only think of men (or any other equivalents of men) exploring their feminine sides. It is also cool for females to explore and express their hyper-masculinity through drag.
Where do you educate the ‘grey area’ of drag kings in Hong Kong?
JB: There are venues in Hong Kong that are supportive of people within a minority community, for example Eaton Hotel and The Aftermath. They have allowed us to perform and hold workshops, where we can share more about drag, including its different styles, and how it brings variety and life to the LGBT community.
What can Hong Kong and Hong Kongers do more for alternative art in the LGBT and arts community?
JB: To the people of Hong Kong, the best ways would be to watch our shows! You do not have to be within the LGBTQ community to enjoy the shows that we put on! They are about fun and laughter, poking fun at the everyday and not taking how we express ourselves too seriously!
What is the future for drag kings in Hong Kong and Asia?
BB: More to come!! We’re just getting started! Follow @k.i.n.g.s_drag for more!!
JB: Hopefully more performers and bigger shows! That Asian drag kings will develop its own uniqueness that is distinct from its western counterpart, and we can have even more diverse performances!
The Hong Kong Drag Kings will be joining the mega drag show event DragJam: All Around the World, held on Apr. 29 at The Hive Studios in Kennedy Town for a night of music, comedy and drag art. Buy your tickets here and don’t miss this one!
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