NYLON August 2019 Cover Girl: Becca D’Bus!

It was 10pm on a Saturday night; I stepped into the iconic Hard Rock Cafe at Cuscaden Road to witness my very-first RIOT! — and a very peace-loving one at that — it’s a drag show hosted by drag queen Becca D’Bus who, in recent years has gained prominence in the LGBTQ+ community in Singapore.  “Becca D’Bus” is the drag queen name of Eugene Tan — an individual that I chanced upon almost 10 years ago when NYLON Singapore was first starting up. We met over coffee at the then Jones The Grocer at Mandarin Gallery. I discovered we were the same age, had many friends in common (hello Jian!), and we’re both writers (Eugene’s the better writer. Obviously.).

Stepping into the restaurant, it’s hard not to immediately spot Becca; she’s tall — like, really tall. Becca is an imposing figure at 1.83 metres (add platforms to that) — plus she’s big. And trust an entertainer as experienced as Becca to use her height and size to her advantage in much of her on-stage banter. She starts the night with a disclaimer about the “standards of beauty” in this show (the crowd roars with laughter; who doesn’t love self-deprecating jokes?); then she moves on to an audience member who she pretends to have a bone to pick with, and mentions about being able to “fall with precision” if need be — and Becca’s right; you don’t want her to fall on you. My favourite act of the night was when Becca did a rendition of Adele’s “Someone Like You”; singling out a couple sitting at one of the tables in front of the stage. Becca was hilarious, expressive, and very believable in pretending that the man was an ex-boyfriend who she has moved on from. She mouths the lyrics “I wish nothing but the best for you” while throwing the middle finger up at the unwitting participant. I haven’t been this entertained in a long while. By the end of the night, my friends were thanking me for bringing them along to the show.

above: becca d’bus on stage for RIOT! at Hard Rock Cafe, 20th july 2019

I’ve been wanting to put Becca on the cover of NYLON since the start of the year when we decided to bring back our cover girls, but in digital format. She’s loud, she’s inspirational, and she has a great story to tell. And Becca has been extremely vocal about the rights of the gay community in Singapore, and that controversial law, which so many people have been trying to get repealed. This month as Singapore celebrates its birthday, I thought it the most appropriate month to bring light to this national issue. As they say… it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

MAKEUP (all M.A.C):
FACE (used throughout)
Studio Fix 24-Hour Smooth Wear Concealer (NC10), $36
Studio Fix 24-Hour Smooth Wear Concealer (NC20), $36
Studio Fix 24-Hour Smooth Wear Concealer (Nw55), $36
Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 foundation (NC20), $56
Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder, $43
Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation (NC15), $56
Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation (NW58) $56
Extra Dimension Skinfinish Double Gleam, $57
eyes
Art Library eyeshadow palette (It’s Designer), $97
Pro Longwear Fluidline Gel Eye Liner (Blacktrack), $33
LiquidLast Liner (Misty Me), $38
Kohl Power Eye Pencil (Feline), $33
Pro Longwear Eyeliner (Mountain Air), $33
Eye Kohl (Fascinating), $33
LIPS
Matte Royal lipstick, $33
Extra Dimension Skinfinish Double Gleam, $57
KOHL POWER EYE PENCIL (FELINE), $33
outfit:
all becca’s own

Your name is lovely. How did it come about?

“When I started, I wanted to call myself Eugene as a kind of political gesture — and actually did. And people were confused. I knew that if I were to have a drag name, it would be punny, funny and political. The choices were Cybil Disobedience and Becca. My friend Jake said ‘I promise you, that there’s at least another seven Cybil Disobedience’ so I went with Becca. I haven’t met or heard of another one.”

Becca D’Bus is a pun for “back of the bus”, right? Is there any further meaning to that full name?

“Yes, that’s the pun. In reference to Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement in the US. And I suppose, the expression that means to feel like you’re not being treated equally.”

How did you become a drag queen?

“So, when I was in college at Emerson from 2001 to 2004, the way the university programme is designed, you have an Academic Advisor that you meet with at least once a semester before you can sign up for classes. And one of the first things that my advisor said to me was, ‘Statistically, your generation will be laid off at least seven times. And statistically, your generation will change career paths at least three times’. And I thought he was crazy, you know, but whatever. And it’s kind of panned out to be true, I’ve been laid off before, I’ve definitely changed career paths before. So when I left college, I was in a theatre company. It was a queer theatre company — we were an activist queer theatre company. My first gig there was to direct a project called ‘A Street Theater Named Desire’, which was an AIDS activist guerrilla performance project, which is a lot of words just to say that we were doing shows about AIDS, and safer sex, and sex in general; in public parks where men were having sex. And we would go there from midnight till three in the morning, and the performances were free. We were never announced that we would do it — we would just do it. And to this day, that’s been my favourite work ever. Nothing i’ve done since has marked me as a person as much as that project has marked me. To do that project, I was also doing AIDS outreach, safer sex outreach in clubs, where we would try to get people to tell us all about their risks [laughs], which is kind of a crazy conversation to have in a gay club. And that’s how we got into drag, because I was what the public health agency would have called a ‘volunteer’, and I was partnered with a staff member. And one night, we just said, ‘Let’s try going out with like a face on, maybe people will talk to us’, and we did! And people did! And it was very successful, so we kept doing it. And that’s how I ended up in drag. I didn’t start off performing in that way, although I have a background in theatre. And then I entered an amateur contest and didn’t win [laughs]; I’ve never won an amateur contest — that’s my claim to fame… I’ve always come in second. And both the people that… I’m not gonna say the second half because it’s really bitchy… [laughs] But neither of the two people who won are still performing, is what I was gonna say.

above: becca painting on her first face at the nylon office

[Laughs] Whatever, I’ve said it before. So eventually, my work at the theatre company — it was called The Theatre Offensive in Boston — I became the Community Engagement Director, and my job there was to find ways for the work of the company to connect with the people that it would matter to the most. It was funded by a couple of grants, that allowed us to be quite experimental with how we were doing this work, but it literally supported my job. In 2008, as we all know, the economy in the US crashed, and my job wasn’t affected by the crash in the economy in 2008, but by 2010, all our grant money had dried up. And so I got laid off, and then I was an illegal immigrant for a little while, I was undocumented, before I moved back to Singapore.”

When did you come back?

“End of 2010. So I flew out on Christmas day, and arrived on the 27th. I had a day in London in-between. And when I came back, I mean I worked a corporate job that made performing not possible, because I was travelling quite a bit for work, and I was… what else did I do… I worked in a magazine [laughs], where we saw each other a lot! [Ed’s note: YUP!] But eventually what happened was in 2015, it occurred to me that I was like, close to 50. As in, that 50 was only like 13 years away, it’s not that far away. And it occurred to me that if I wasn’t going to do drag for real-reals, it may not happen, because at some point your face will collapse, you can’t paint it anymore, you’re done. That’s just like, the reality of it, right? And so that’s what happened, and kind of immediately after, within maybe a couple of days after I sort of made that choice for myself, I was offered a gig, to be in a show that was going to open in Paris. So I was like, ‘Oh, this is like a sign!’ [Laughs] Not really, it was just that there was actually money floating around, and we could do projects like that.”

So you went to Paris?

“Yeah, so I was in a show called ‘The Incredible Adventures of Border Crossers’, it was part of SIFA [Singapore International Festival of the Arts] that year, but it was also part of the Singapore en France Festival, and it opened that festival in Paris, with 21 other performers, all of whom were new Singaporeans, and I was the only person who was born in Singapore in the show. Then eventually it came back to Singapore for SIFA.”

How did RIOT! start?

“So RIOT! started just before that. So when I decided that I was gonna do this, I knew a few things. One, because of the kind of drag aesthetic that we have in Singapore, I knew I was going to be very hard to hire. Because, you know, it’s like people in Singapore like to do group numbers; they like to do these sort of performance traditions, I guess, in drag. It’s just true la, you’re gonna have like, three beautiful, feminine drag queens and then one fat clown, and it’s like, that’s not a group number [laughs]. That’s like, four random people on stage, you know what I mean? So I knew that that was gonna be the case, and I also knew that I knew how to produce a show, because I was doing that in Boston already. And that there wasn’t a show like RIOT! in Singapore, so there wasn’t really a space for people to just do whatever they want to do on stage. And so RIOT! was born, on February 14th 2015.”

Where was the first RIOT!?

“It was at TAB — back when it still existed. Knock on wood but I have a terrible, um… RIOT!’s been in four venues; today, three of them are closed down [laughs]. Hard Rock Cafe [the current venue] has been around for a very long time, so like, whatever. And they kind of own the building they’re in, so it would be quite difficult for them to shut down…. but it’s true! So we were at TAB, TAB eventually closed down. We were at Shanghai Dolly, Shanghai Dolly’s since closed down. We were at Hive by Wala Wala —that’s closed down. And now we’re at Hard Rock Cafe, and…”

Is that a permanent venue for RIOT!?

“For the foreseeable future. I mean, I’m about to get a contract for the next six months, so [laughs] we’ll see! But I get the sense that it works for both of us. We started at Hard Rock Cafe in August last year, and have done… I wanna say 10 shows… We skipped a couple of months.”

Let’s talk about the show that just happened last Saturday. So I was there for the first time, and it was packed!

“Yeah, that was full. That was slightly fuller than full, actually. That was a sell-out. Usually, the thing is, we tend to allow standing room to the point that standing room’s like, uncomfortable. And then we’ll shut it off.”

What’s the capacity for a full house?

“So that’s a complicated question, because actual room capacity, as in what the fire codes say, is something like 800 people. But the reality is, because of furniture and all the rest of that, about 200 people on the first floor, and then we can seat another 40 upstairs. There weren’t people upstairs last Saturday; I don’t like doing it, it’s not fun to perform that way. But we’ve done it before, just because we were oversubscribed, and we just said, ‘Fine, whatever’.

We opened the seating upstairs when we did a RIOT! in conjunction with Pink Fest, and there were just more people that wanted to come, because here was a bump in publicity for it. And since the spirit of Pink Fest is that sort of like, that community feeling, we just thought, ‘Oh let’s just let people in!’ I mean, why not, right?”

MAKEUP (all M.A.C):
eyes
Pro Longwear Fluidline Gel Eye Liner (Blacktrack), $33
LiquidLast Liner (Misty Me), $38
Glitter (Heliotrope), $42
Pearlglide Intense Eyeliner (Designer Purple), $33
Kohl Power Eye Pencil (Feline), $33
Pro Longwear Eyeliner (Mountain Air), $33
Eye Kohl (Fascinating), $33
Dazzleshadow (Shine De-Light), $33
LIPS
Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour Metallic (Atomized), $39
Matte Royal lipstick, $33
outfit:
all becca’s own

Has anything bad ever happened at one of your shows?

“No actually, that’s never happened with RIOT!. And I think part of it is that we’ve been… it’s quite clear, if you’re not into it, you just don’t wanna come. [Laughs] And I think that because of the way I front it… actually I don’t know the answer to this. So maybe you shouldn’t quote me on this, but I suspect that part of what is happening is that… I feel like of all the sort of, queer performing forms, drag is maybe one of the easiest gateways. Like one of the easiest entry points, right, because it’s fun, it’s colourful, it’s spectacular, it’s entertaining, it’s fabulous, it’s all these things. And there’s the kind of like, mainstreaming of parts of drag culture. So you know with Drag Race, with Lady Gaga, with Queer Eye, I mean, yes. So all these things sort of make it, perhaps, easier for people to come to it? And I also suspect people are generally a little afraid of being antagonistic to a drag queen. Because, I think people imagine that we would bite back — which I probably would, in full disclosure. But I think that there’s the sense that drag queens can do that, right? Live performers have that kind of power.”

How do you come up with your performances?

“Wow! Um… You know, it varies a lot. Sometimes you hear a song and you’re just like, ‘Oh, that’d be really funny.’ So for me, a lot of what I’m interested in, in doing with my numbers, is to sort of have people hear that music in a different way, or you know, hear something different in that music. Or something kinda fucked up, or whatever it is. Sometimes it can be quite directly political, sometimes it can be whatever else. So often, when I’m hearing music, that’s my thing. I used to say that I’m very interested in being very literal about metaphor. And in that way, finding new meaning. It used to be a process that I used all the time, so you saw it a little bit at this last RIOT!.

It’s happened at RIOT! as a strategy with some of the more risqué stuff too, when we were a bit nervous about who would be in the room — for reasons that I can’t even remember — and somebody wanted to do a song that was full of the word ‘pussy’, to mean ‘vagina’. We were like, ‘You know what? We’re just gonna put a picture of a cat behind you, so we can deny,’ [laughs] which is really stupid, when you think about it. So yeah, I think that’s fair that that’s where this sort of stuff comes from.

I used to do ‘Hollaback Girl’ by Gwen Stefani, and I’d mime taking a shit on stage, because there’s all this…[laughs] Because you know the song starts like, ‘I heard that you were talking shit, and you didn’t think that I could hear it’, and the word ‘shit’ comes up, over and over and over again, so like, the number would start with me squatting over a bucket with toilet paper in my hand. So for me, this idea of like, ‘Let’s just be really literal about what these people are singing.’ And it’s ridiculous, but it brings us to maybe, a newer, different way of hearing that music. Which for me, I think I find the most flattering thing people will say… for example things like, ‘I can’t hear that song anymore’, and not ‘see what you just did’, and I’m just like ‘Yay, score one!'”

Does anyone sing live during the performances?

“Yeah it happens very occasionally. There was one person singing live when you were at RIOT!, for one number — Elnina’s second number. I can attest that that was a minus one track. I tell her she’s amazing every time I get to see her.”

How long does it take for you to get ready for a performance?

“So if I’m in a mad rush, I can do it in 40 minutes. If I wanna indulge, it can be two-and-a-half hours. So, somewhere between the two. Usually it lands at an hour, hour fifteen. I do my makeup both at the venue or at home; it depends on what’s going on.”

I’ve seen pictures of you in the MRT in drag.

“I think the stuff when I was on the MRT trains in drag, to be honest, I’ve only ever done it on the days of Pink Dot. Mostly because I felt a need in those years to feel kind of activist-y about Pink Dot, and I also felt like, well, if you wanna say that we have been confined to a park, that the ‘dot’ has been confined to a park, there’s nothing to say that I can’t ride public transportation. So here I am, and I’ll do it. I don’t enjoy doing it, frankly, because it’s really quite uncomfortable. Singapore’s very hot. It’s more that than anything else. I don’t particularly feel uncomfortable from the staring and whatever, because I truly am quite used to being stared at. Out of drag, I don’t particularly dress in a way that’s particularly gender-conforming to begin with.”

So staring never bothers you…

“Staring doesn’t really bother me. Sometimes people stare in a particularly like, you know, people can be quite insensitive about personal space. And that can be a bit jarring. But generally, I don’t really feel staring anymore. I’d be out with friends being like, ‘Oh my god, everybody’s staring at you,’ [laughs) and I’d be like, ‘I actually don’t know, or I don’t feel it anymore.’ So yeah, I guess staring is sort of not that big a deal.”

There was an incident with some boys in a coffee shop. So what happened in the end?

“Spoiler alert: Nothing! [Laughs] So I mean, the thing is that I have to say about that situation, right, is very simple. I was at work at Lulu’s Lounge, I finished work at 1am, 2am… I don’t know. I think it was a Wednesday, so probably 1am. I was hungry, I went to get food, and Swee Choon’s one of your last like, late-night options, right? So I go get food, and then these guys do what they do, so they come up to me, and they ask questions, like why I’m wearing makeup, why I’m wearing nail polish, which actually is the interesting thing. Actually, I’ve run around with some makeup on before; I’ve run around in dresses before; and the thing that makes people really like, turn or stare really hard, or have a double-take, is painted nails. For some reason, it is like, the line. And I think part of it is that we think of them as being fairly permanent, we don’t think of them as something that you’re just doing for fun. I think, I don’t know. But for some reason, painted nails is the line. I have drag queen friends who talk about wanting to paint their nails more often, but they’d like to get laid. It somehow seems to be the line for the public, but it’s also the line around masculinity as it applies to your sex life. So these people asked me about why my nails are painted, and why I was wearing makeup. And I actually wasn’t wearing makeup, my face was just stained, I didn’t clean up properly. And I was kind of shaken, I was quite annoyed that these people thought that they could somehow police my presence, my appearance, in that way. So I thought and I just wrote this thing on Facebook and went to sleep. And it was sort of to really just blow steam. Then the next morning I wake up and my phone blows up.”

Mothership?

“Even before Mothership, lots of messages from friends being like, ‘Oh my god, are you okay?’ And I’m like, ‘I just woke up, what’s wrong, what are you talking about…?’ And then I looked on Facebook and was like, ‘Oh, okay… okay… OH. Okay.’ And then Mothership and all the other things happened, and yeah. But nothing came of it, because I actually really wasn’t looking to find out who these people were; I don’t really care. You know, what am I going to say to them when I see them?

There were a bunch of people who sort of messaged me, to say like, ‘Oh, I know who these people are, I can tell you’, and I’m like, ‘I don’t care…? Do you wanna go and tell them that they’re stupid? You’re welcome to do that, but like, I don’t really care.’ The nice thing that came out of it was that Swee Choon came out to say that that sort of behaviour is not welcome in their premises, which is quite sweet. I mean, I’ve been back since, and the waiters recognise me from it, which is funny.”

Do you get free food?

“No! It’s not that kinda funny, unfortunately!”

MAKEUP (all M.A.C):
eyes
Art Library eyeshadow palette (It’s Designer), $97
Art Library eyeshadow palette (FLAME-BOYANT), $97
Pro Longwear Fluidline Gel Eye Liner (Blacktrack), $33
LiquidLast Liner (Misty Me), $38
Glitter (Gold Hologram), $42
Kohl Power Eye Pencil (Feline), $33
Pro Longwear Eyeliner (Mountain Air), $33
Eye Kohl (Fascinating), $33
LIPS
Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour Metallic (Coral Plated), $39
Lip Pencil (Lasting Sensation), $33
Lip Pencil (Chicory), $33
outfit:
all becca’s own

Tell us about the drag community in Singapore.

“I like to say that the drag scene in Singapore is a lot larger than people imagine it to be. I think there are probably like a hundred, hundred plus performers in Singapore, which for a city the size of ours, is a lot of performers. But, a lot of these performers are not performing in public spaces very much, so they’re doing a lot of private D and D work, that kind of work, where as a public, you don’t really get to experience them, unless you have somehow hired them for an event. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing that I would say about drag in Singapore is that it pops up in interesting places. So yes, it happens in gay clubs, it happens as part of dance nights, or you know, like Taboo would have Handbag Night once a month; there’s RIOT!, which happens once a month, Kumar has her shows, maybe almost weekly at this point, if not more. I’m at Lulu’s every Saturday and some Wednesdays, you know, so on and so forth. And also, with the kind of like, mainstreaming of Drag Race and that other venues are hiring drag queens, straight and gay, but straight venues in particular are hiring drag queens as their way of saying like, the venue’s with it, right, but… actually that’s not true. It’s a way of denoting that this room is fun, it’s a way of denoting that this room is fabulous, and you know, that you’re meant to have fun in this room, I guess, as part of what happens around drag queens.

And then, I guess the other thing I would say is that it’s also a scene where it’s quite varied, how people are coming to performance, what people wanna do in their performance, and the sort of levels of which they’re performing at. There was a Singaporean performer who was on Drag Race Thailand; now LA Comedy Live brings in Drag Race performers. So like all that stuff happens, right? And so the scene becomes more varied, because of that. So there’s the sort of people for whom drag is like, this thing that you go and look for; and then there’s all these other ways that people are experiencing drag, and that’s kinda cool, I suppose.”

Is drag a viable career in Singapore?

“I’m gonna imagine that for most people, it’s not viable. For me, the only way I could imagine it being viable was to produce my own show, and have that be a regular thing. And the income streams on that are a little bit more complex and possibly larger, possibly not, than if I was trying to be hired by a bunch of venues and stuff like that. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve had a regular gig with a venue like Lulu’s, which I’m very… — I sound like I’m trying to blow hot air up somebody’s ass — but I’m super grateful for it, because it allows me to take risks in all the things that I do. And then I also produce like, the Glory Hoes Present, so I am working in a way that is as much about performance as it is about producing, and that sort of thing. And for all that I do, and of all of that that I do, it’s only since 2015 — and it’s now 2019. It’s only in the last quarter of 2018 that I did not feel like I was on the verge of total financial disaster. So if the question is, ‘Is it viable if I wanna step my foot into it?’ I don’t know. Maybe you’re really special, that’s possible. I mean, really, it’s totally possible. Maybe you are really special, and I don’t wanna tell you that you’re not, but I can only speak from my own experience.”

If somebody wants to perform at RIOT!, how does that work?

“RIOT! is an interesting show from that perspective, because I don’t generally audition anybody; it can be quite opaque, how people end up being in the show. It is a show in which I have, from the beginning, said I’m interested in performers doing whatever the hell they wanna do. So I wanna do as little as possible in terms of shaping what ends up on that stage; so the only real choices I’m making is who I’m putting on that stage. And so I have to be interested in the point of view, and the mix of points of view has to make sense for me. So people don’t generally audition, but I try to be good about seeing performers and seeing new performances, especially if they are in town. I try to go to at least some… so whenever there are amateur contests or that sort of thing, I try to be in touch, either to go to the nights where they are competing, or in some other way, get to experience these performers and what they’re about. So for me, that’s how that is.

We don’t generally take on total newbies, because I think that we’ve built an audience for RIOT!, and I’ve done a lot of work at RIOT! to make sure that this house is loving and supportive, and all that — you probably heard me do some of that that night. But I also don’t think it’s necessarily a context that’s kind to a total newcomer, because it’s not that we’re all really great, it’s that we’re all really trying to push at our aesthetics and whatever it is we’re doing. And very often, with total newcomers, that’s not where they’re at. They’re at a place of just trying to figure out what their drag is to begin with, and so it can be quite unflattering for a newcomer, I find, and it’s not helpful. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to them.

Very often, newcomers don’t get hired to do private gigs, or generally speaking; it can be a bit chicken and egg in that way, in the same way like applying for a job. I’ve heard people be like, ‘You need five to six [years of experience]’, and ‘I’m fresh out of school, what the fuck am I supposed to do?’ Right? We’re all familiar with that version of it.”

MAKEUP (all M.A.C):
eyes
Art Library eyeshadow palette (It’s Designer), $97
Art Library eyeshadow palette (FLAME-BOYANT), $97
Pro Longwear Fluidline Gel Eye Liner (Blacktrack), $33
LiquidLast Liner (Misty Me), $38
Dazzleshadow Liquid (Every Day Is Sunshine), $38
Glitter (Heliotrope), $42
Pearlglide Intense Eyeliner (Designer Purple), $33
Kohl Power Eye Pencil (Feline), $33
Pro Longwear Eyeliner (Mountain Air), $33
Eye Kohl (Fascinating), $33
Dazzleshadow (Shine De-Light), $33
LIPS
Lip Pencil (Candy Yum-Yum), $33
Extra Dimension Skinfinish Double Gleam, $57
outfit:
all becca’s own

So how do you find your performers?

“I just try to be very in touch with who’s who, what’s happening on the scene, and who’s doing stuff, and you know, like drag queens generally just know each other; it’s how you learn how to do drag is from somebody else. You don’t really go to school for it. Nowadays you can learn a lot on YouTube.”

I read that Katya [from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 and All Stars Season 2] said that “If I had a drag mother, it would be Becca D’Bus’. What’s that about?

“So Katya and I and actually, a bunch of us, kind of started around the same time. She’s probably been in drag for a bit longer than me. It was a scene in Boston where my memory of it was everybody and their friend were starting a drag house. So everybody was like, “Oh my god, it’s a house of whatever,” and we were just like, ‘I don’t get it?’, because none of us come from a background of like, having drag mothers and that sort of thing. We all just sort of stumbled our way into it and figured it out. So the bunch of us decided that we were gonna start a house, kind of as a joke. And somebody said, ‘Oh no, it’s not a house, it’s a home for wayward drag queens!’; and so the idea came that it wasn’t a house, it was a home, it was therefore an orphanage. [Laughs] And that, I wasn’t the house mother, there would be no house mother, we just had jobs in the orphanage. So like, I was like the lunch lady, somebody was a bus driver, and Miss Georgette who’s like the oldest among us said, ‘Oh no, I’m just the person they found in the building when they opened the orphanage, I was just there.’ You know, it was like nonsense like that. Yeah, that’s how it came about. There were eight of us, none of us are in Boston anymore.

I mean, it was intentional. It was called the House of D’Bus, but it was only named House of D’Bus because we looked at all our names and were like what is the stupidest person to name it after, and it was down to either the House of D’Bus or the House of Fries, because there was a performer named Frieda Fries. And then we decided on House of D’Bus.”

What are your favourite makeup brands?

“I use a lot of Colourpop, a lot of Kryolan, a lot of Coloured Raine right now, and a lot of Juvia’s Place. And a shit ton of Jeffree Star lipsticks. Lately, I don’t know how I feel about that, but it’s good.”

What about skincare?

“Olay — very pedestrian. I clean my face with Pond’s Cold Cream. Maybe because it’s really, really cheap, it’s like $5 for a huge tub. And I don’t break out a lot because it [makeup] doesn’t stay on my face for very long. And I cleanse properly. Or I try to. Also I’m not a woman, so I don’t have the hormonal thing.”

MAKEUP (all M.A.C):
eyes
Art Library eyeshadow palette (FLAME-BOYANT), $97
Pro Longwear Fluidline Gel Eye Liner (Blacktrack), $33
LiquidLast Liner (Misty Me), $38
Kohl Power Eye Pencil (Feline), $33
Eye Kohl (Fascinating), $33
LIPS
art Library eyeshadow palette (FLAME-BOYANT), $97
Glitter (Gold Hologram), $42
outfit:
all becca’s own

Drag queen beauty tips!

“I have discovered that you can buy things like… NTUC Fairprice has these things called “Multi-purpose kitchen wipes”, and they’re these sort of synthetic, white sheets, printed with blue or red crosshatch. It’s basically the same material as a makeup wipe, except tougher. It’s thicker and tougher. So I discovered that you can buy a bunch of those — if you wanna make wipes, which I used to, you can fold them all up into a Lock & Lock, and soak them. So I would make two, where I’d make one that’s soaked in coconut oil, and then I would make one that’s soaked in micellar water. So I could double-cleanse on the go, basically, if I wanted to. Which is what I used to do. Now I just carry a bunch of those wipes around and I just have Cold Cream and micellar water.

I use hairspray as a makeup fixer. I highly recommend it [Editor: I don’t]; it makes your skin a little bit shiny, which maybe for photos is not great. And any hairspray; whatever’s cheap, and nothing that is labelled as ‘Glossy’. Because you just don’t want anything that’s greasy on your face, right? So anything like super strong hold, firm hold, whatever’s cheap. It fixes the makeup; I mean if you were to pull a towel across it it would wipe it off, but in general it holds it in place all night. I’ve inhaled it a couple of times and it’s painful [laughs]. You know what I mean, don’t do stupid shit like spray hairspray in your face and then breathe in with your nose, that’s asking for trouble. Although, your eyes are not that sensitive to hairspray, as I’ve discovered. I’ve sort of sprayed hairspray in a wig and got some on my face, and your eyes are still open, it’s fine. It’s not that bad. It’s not as crazy as you would imagine it to be. Disclaimer: you should just not try it anywhere. But hairspray on your face is not that bad. I’ve seen lots of drag queens and other kinds of performers do it. Um, making my own makeup wipes, that seems less common.

I use detergent as face wash, which I learnt from drag queens. It totally works. It’s quite stripping, which means that you need to moisturise after, but it’s less irritating than triple-cleansing, because you don’t rub as much. So you kind of just use it like face wash, and it dissolves everything. I used to use Dawn liquid detergent, because when I lived in the States, that’s what they use on baby animals that get caught in oil spills. And I figure if it’s safe for a baby animal, it’s safe for my beautiful face. Now I use anything la. You generally don’t want to use something that’s labelled ‘Anti- bacterial’. It can kinda burn; you can feel it’s a little bit harsh. I actually don’t think the dish detergent is a ‘do not do’. But you have to moisturise after. You can’t do that and be like, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna go out now!’ It’s like, it’s gonna hurt.

Eyelash glue is used as a base for glitter — also learnt from drag queens. Just, any latex eyelash glue as a base is great, because you can just peel it off in one piece, if you use enough glue. If not, in general, tape is the best way to remove glitter. Tape or powder, just anything that’s dry. You just powder it. And then you sweep it off, and then it takes it off your skin. Because it makes your skin less sticky; it absorbs all the moisture on your skin. It is messy. But that’s a trick that they use with like, confetti at weddings. It’s like you powder your hair after to get it out of your scalp.”

Any words for society?

“Oh my god, so many. [Laughs] Can y’all not suck, please? In general? I actually think that the only thing I will add to that, which I kind of alluded to earlier; you know like, I do a bunch of things that people can come consume, right? I do RIOT!, I do the Glory Hoes Present, which is about queer movies, and awkward cult gay films in a setting where you’re encouraged to misbehave. And we do a dance party after called the Hoe Down, that is, you know, it’s like hashtag ‘dance like nobody’s watching’, and this idea of claiming space for your queer body, or whatever body, as a kind of political act. But I feel like I don’t say it often enough, that actually, the most regular place to see me is Lulu’s Lounge, and actually, we can have a conversation, and actually, we can have some fun that way. But also, that actually makes all this other stuff possible — the fact that I have a regular gig, and it’s fun, and we get to do some fun stuff there, is the reason that I get to do all these other things. Part of it is that, yeah, I’m grateful for it, and it’s also some of my favourite kind of work, this idea of mingling as performance, has been a space where I’ve had some really interesting encounters. It’s just that when you’re performing, it’s almost like you’re doing stage banter for three hours, except that you’re doing it one-on-one. So all the outrageous things that I would say on stage, I’m just saying it to your face. And you get to respond to it, and some people are into it, some people are not. But I enjoy that.”

Regarding NDP 2019:

“It’s like, maybe the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. So I did it last year, and it really is: we screen the National Day Parade, I have a mic, and I talk shit over the National Day Parade. And that’s basically it. Then we play drinking games, and by the end of it, people are like, drunk off their faces because the drinking game has things like, ‘Drink every time they say unity!’ It’s like, wah, fuck… [laughs].”

 

Follow Becca D’Bus on Instagram here, and get tickets for RIOT! and other upcoming shows here.

Becca D’Bus performs next at “Watch It Wet: NDP 2019”, on 9 August at The Projector. Doors open 5pm. Parade starts 5.35pm. Pay what you wish. Suggested $15 minimum cash at the door. Reservations at Peatix

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADELE CHAN, PHOTOGRAPHED USING THE LEICA M10-P + SUMMILUX-M 35MM F/1.4 ASPH LENS.
MAKEUP BY BECCA D’BUS AND GINGER LYNETTE USING M.A.C COSMETICS.
styling by
BECCA D’BUS.
Assisted by natalie TAN.
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