Ezekiel Mathialagan works as a freelance data collector at the airport by day but by night, he transforms into the beautiful and glamorous Miss Chilli, a stage name he adopts when he dresses in drag to perfom at clubs, events and parties. STYLEGUIDE sits down with him to find out more about his incredible journey and about the ins and outs of living a life as a drag queen.
How did you get into drag?
I first started doing open mic standup comedy from the age of 18 - 21 at Comedy Masala which was held regularly at the Home Club at Clarke Quay.
I was the only openly gay comedian of that time.
I loved making audiences laugh, then, I tried to do drag comedy a couple of times. However, I was compared to Kumar most of the time which I felt bad about because Kumar is a legend.
At the age of 21, I then decided to leave comedy and move on to be a drag queen.
I first wandered around Neil Road where all the gay bars were during Chinese New Year.
I was dressed up from head to toe in red and I went to a bar and almost everyone started to call me Chili. So I took that name and Miss Chili was born on that very night.
I then joined competitions to get my name out there. I joined an ambassador hunt hosted by SG Rainbow in 2012 and I came in first place. Through that, I got a chance to perform in Taiwan.
After that, I participated in Drag Academy which is a competition in Singapore similar to RuPaul's Drag Race. However, I did not win because the competition had really strong contestants. It was still a good chance for exposure though.
Lastly I joined a Diva Impersonator contest in Singapore in which I impersonated Tina Turner and came in third.
I then performed in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Tokyo and I also worked with organisations such as She+pride, which creates events for womyn (non-standard spelling of ‘women’ adopted by some feminists in order to avoid the word ending -men) who love womyn and currently I am working with Man About Town which creates events mainly for gay men.
I also do birthday parties occasionally.
I have been doing drag for six years and I never get tired of doing it.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day in drag needs three hours just for makeup alone, an hour to be safe for wearing the costume and my wig and then its time for showtime.
Then I interact and dance with the guests throughout the night and I'm back to being a man again by 6 am or so in the morning.
What was the toughest part of your journey as a drag queen?
I think the toughest part of my journey as a drag queen was losing good friends.
I come from a very conservative christian background so these friends who I knew since I was young might not share the same views that I have today.
Also, a lot of my mum's friends began asking how come I'm dressing up in women's clothing. I understand at that point in time it was really difficult for her to explain but she just said it was just for drama.
What's the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is getting to know many new friends and inspiring others to be themselves to love themselves for who they are. And I love being beautiful. That's what keeps me going.
Besides the free alcohol and cute boys that is.
What was the most memorable performance you put up?
The most memorable performance was performing for my best friend's sister birthday party.
It was quite scary for me as I always perform in an LGBT setting, but at that time I was performing in front of uncles and aunties.
However, the performances went well and I was surprised that everyone wanted to take a photo with me at the end of the day.
Have you faced any criticism from doing what you do? If so, how do you handle it?
Yes. I receive lots of negative criticism online.
I just choose not to argue and if the person continues to criticise me negatively on purpose, I have no choice to block that person.
What are three misconceptions people might have about drag queens?
All of them want to become a woman.
All of them are just seeking attention.
All of them are loud and flamboyant.
What is one change you would like to see in society?
People living in harmony with one another without judgement.
What are your future plans?
I plan to perform in India and join the Taiwan Pride this year and drag is something I plan to do until the end of my days.
The passion never dies.
Photos Courtesy of: Miss Chilli