There’s a cliché that if you do drag, you must watch RuPaul’s drag race and know every queen’s biography byheart. I am not one of these queens- I think drag is more than RuPaul’s show and I expect more than claps and love from what I do.
I never knew that so much artistic energy was hiding within me. Out of drag I seem to be quite talentless, but putting on eyeliner is enough to change everything- a new person is born, who has more skills and opportunities.
“The First and the Last Show” — the birth of Bipolara
It all started in 2020, during the pandemic. I ended up on one of the lives of- United We Stream through my work. It fully was dedicated to drag queens. I didn’t have much intersection with queer community back then, I was young, everything had stopped. I really liked the atmosphere and people I saw there. At that time, I didn’t even think that I would soon become one of them.
Approximately one and a half years later, when the lockdown was over, I saw one of my closest friends, Matt Shally’s show, which I liked a lot. I started thinking about doing the same. I listen to the song Mate used in his show on repeat. I started imagining what I’d do with this song, what my performance would be like. Mate’s show was soon followed by Nia Gvatua’s offer. She asked me to do a show at Success. At first I was hesitant. I was not ready, but I still took this step with the condition that this would be my first and the last show. I would fulfill my desire once and that was it.
Ovations from the audience and a more courageous BIPOLARA
At the first show, to my surprise, I was not nervous at all. I felt very calm. Everything went well, Nia helped me perfect my ideas. I received very positive emotions from the audience after the end of the show; applause and ovations would not stop. I was told there were a lot of people left outside trying to get in and see my show. Their emotions reminded me that I was actually where I wanted to be since I was a child, and I got the feeling that I had always been missing.
I never tell people what my show will be like; there are no expectations. I always try to offer something new to my supporters and those who watch the evolution of the Georgian drag scene. My drag persona is also always changing. I try not to be predictable and linear. My shows are always dedicated to different themes; the messages also change, as well as my self-expression. I did the first show from the 1992 film Death Becomes Her, starring Meryl Streep. At the beginning of the show, Bipolara is timid, scared, standing in front of the mirror and looking at her image in despair. But during the course of the show, she finds strength and shows a different side, bolder, stronger and defiant.
The feeling of euphoria that comes with doing drag
At the end of the show, I don’t want BIPOLARA to end. I want the euphoria that comes with drag to stay with me. I try not to take off my wig, not to remove my makeup before going to sleep, and to prolong the feeling of happiness for a while. Then I fall asleep and when I wake up it’s like I’m a new person. After each performance, a new person is born, who is free from the fears I had before doing drag.
After every show, I feel that I am better, bolder, stronger. As I have learned to value myself, I am more confident. I learned when to say no to something, when to agree. Drag taught me to value myself. I was able to bring forth things that I had suppressed for many years.
Uniqueness of Georgian drag queens and Georgian drag
In recent years, the number of places dedicated to queer people and queer culture has grown tremendously. Every club has its series of queer nights, which has led to an increase in the number of Georgian drag queens, and what is most pleasing to me, no two drag queens are alike; they are all unique in their own way. It’s hard for me to single out someone in particular. I respect everyone’s work and creativity very much. I’m glad that they are so diverse, in terms of style, visuals, taste, artistic skills, manners, etc. I’m sure this diversity will bode well for all of us who consider ourselves a part of drag culture in the future.
According to my observation, Georgian drag differs from traditional drag in that there are more performance elements in Georgian drag shows and it is not just a classic drag with lip sync and movements. I like this very much, as we are less limited and have more room to share our feelings and experiences. The audience also wins because they never know what they will get at a particular drag artist’s show.
Protest, queer experiences and advice for aspiring drag queens
I always try to incorporate the feeling of protest I get daily into my shows. It may not be evident to everyone, but the observant eye will definitely notice that my shows reflect the environment in which we queer people have to live. We cannot escape from this; the pain we experience during our lives is always conveyed directly or indirectly, in the shows of Georgian drag queens. Drag is not just about colorful costumes and entertainment, for us drag is primarily a way to tell our stories.
Drag is fraught with risks in our country, and no drag queen is immune from homophobic society. In my case- I don’t have my family’s support, yet I took this step. I would advise others to do the same. Anyone, who wants to be a part of the Georgian drag family, should take the risk and make this step. I know it’s not an easy decision to make, but drag has completely changed my life. I assumed that everything would be fine, but the result exceeded my expectations and I got much more than I imagined: I met a lot of people. I felt a lot of support and love. I was once again convinced of this last week by the TURPHA series of erotic nights organized by JAMPROJECT at club TES, where my first song was presented. The risk and nervousness were all worth it.