Transnational South Asian Sexualities: Drag and Performance in London

I first encountered drag in Bollywood films in the late 90’s (Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Dulhan Hum Le jayenge etc). At that point I never really thought much about the complexities that exist within female impersonation. Used as a form of entertainment in popular culture, drag artists were usually assayed by male “character actors” of Bollywood (with the exception of some like Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Hassan and a few others). My first encounter with drag was in a racy, appealing way in my fifth or sixth year in school, when I was asked to perform as Rekha, the legendary actress who is also a popular gay icon. For me, that moment where I transgressed my gender boundaries by donning a sari remains a defining moment. One of my distant memories of that performance was this huge laughter from the audience when I walked on to stage. In a flash, the idea that a man impersonating a woman is a social embarrassment was made obvious to my young self. I realised that popular assumption was that drag equated homosexuality. Of course how true that assumption is remains another debate. My own study has led me to believe that items of clothing and accessories have this tremendous erotic charge within them and drag artists use this to entertain audiences. But drag is much more than simply entertainment; there is a whole idea of transgression and identity politics behind it. For some it is a moment of empowerment, while for others it is asserting an identity which they often cannot express, and for yet others it is just a brief interlude from their daily lives.


I first met Asif early last year at Club Kali, a popular Queer venue in London, where he was working for Naz Project London. Months later I was able to witness one of his performances at the same venue. From the moment he transformed himself into Asifa and belted out Nazia Hassan numbers on stage, there seemed to be an electric charge among the few hundred in the club audience. Not only did we revel in this South Asian ‘queer’ moment, we also were aware of the power behind drag. The South Asian Queer scene is rather small in United Kingdom and Asifa’s performance seems to have helped the scattered community come together. Asifa is an entertainer and has been popularly dubbed as Asifa the Fundraising Queen. With the huge financial setbacks to the charity sector by the present UK government and their ‘crackdown’ on multiculturalism, Asifa remains a moment of unity. I caught up with Asifa at Soho last week for this interview.


When was Asifa Born?

Asifa was born essentially during London Pride 2008. I came out as a full fledged Drag Queen in the Float that Naz Project London did that year.


What gave rise to Asifa?

It was interesting because Asifa only ever comes out as a performer. As a man, I always had doors locked on my face. I used to get turned down for roles as a performer, actor, singer and dancer because I was either too effeminate or camp or because of my skin colour and this was in my teenage years. It got to a point when I was auditioning for drama schools in London, and I got given a place but because I had no money I could not go. This forced me to close that part of my life because I thought I could never go back there again. Naz Project London asked me to be their ‘Queen’ on the NPL Float in 2008. I decided if I had to become a Drag Queen, I would use that for performance. By that point I had a lot of pent up frustrations regarding performing and when I took on this new feminine role, I decided I would use this to channel out the performer in me.


How did the name Asifa come about?

When I performed for the first time I did not have a name, it was just Asif doing drag but when I came down from the stage everyone was chanting Asifa so I just took up the name Asifa. It was my audience who gave me my name.

What does drag mean to you? For me drag is an outlet to perform. I can use the fluidity of this space as a singer, dancer, actor and performer to entertain people. As a worker in NPL, I use this to fundraise. I realise that because of my position I have a certain responsibility towards my community. Because Asifa is my sister ego I decided to work together. I like performing and fundraising. For me Asifa is an empowerment to perform, but also because the community loves Asifa so much, I can use this as a fundraising tool for charity and the community.


How has the reception been to Asifa in London?

The reception has been fantastic. The first time I performed as Asifa was for a NPL event where I performed an Andrew Lloyd Weber number. I did not tell anybody about this and it was meant to be a surprise. I was surprised by the positive response I got from the crowd. This was in 2008. After that I decided I would try this again. Initially I had only decided to do this for Pride but when the opportunity to perform for an event came up, I took it up very happily. I think everyone remembers that event only because of this performance. As Asif people already knew what I was doing, but as Asifa I got phenomenal success and it helped bring the community together. Every time Asifa performs, the South Asian community is always there to support me. I am not your typical South Asian drag Queen; I make my own songs, mash up Bollywood with western numbers and do what no other drag queens have done in London.


Has it brought the community together or created greater consciousness to Queer issues in London?

Its funny you say that. Actually after performing in solely South Asian Gay venues, I am now being asked to perform at Camden, Clapham, East London. They are offering me good platforms because even though I am a South Asian Drag Queen, I am not just doing South Asian numbers. I am being creative, creating my own routines and at the same time helping in raising funds for a cause I really believe in which is underrepresented and under-developed in UK. All this has an appeal not just within the South Asian community but the wider community as well.


Who is the real you? Asif or Asifa?

Traditionally drag queens are a bit like an alter ego. You create a whole different persona, build up a whole different voice. Things you wouldn’t do as a man. When I am in drag I am not much different. My name is Asifa, I haven’t gone entirely away from Asif, I use the same voice. Its not at all different. A lot of drag Queens feel pressurised to put on a whole different voice and personality, they have to really glamorise themselves and go over the top and there are politics involved as well. I am political as I am attached to NPL, but I have never really strayed away from Asif.


How do you see your role evolving as an artist?

When I performed for the first time, I only did it as a one off thing, but when it got such good response, I decided to do it more often, use it for fundraising. This allowed me to be more creative with the music and my routine. I stage my own shows, so I choose everything from the songs to the music. I have full creative control of my show. I choreograph my songs keeping in mind my other dancers abilities. In my role as Asifa, I am very lucky because it has allowed me to be a very successful drag queen in the South Asian circles in London, but at the same time I have managed to reach out to the wider gay community and also represent the South Asian gay community to the wider populace. I can be a voice not just for myself but for the whole South Asian gay community, because in London we are very under represented. Its great that I can unify the South Asian gay community and bring it to the wider gay community in such a positive light.


Where do you see yourself going?

At the moment I am venturing out to the wider gay community and performing in mainstream gay clubs. I have just joined the Asifa and Serginessa duo. Serginessa is another ethnic drag queen of Portuguese descent. I am doing more shows which are relevant to the community. I don’t want to forget my ethnicity or my roots so I am still very much a Bollywood Drag Queen. I just like to entertain and continue doing this. I want to grow as an artist and just make people more aware about drag and use it as a form of empowerment. As Asif I don’t think I was confident going out to the wider gay clubs in London but as Asifa I am doing shows and being appreciated for it. I see Asifa very much an empowered avatar of Asif and I think both of them are very much intertwined in my identity.


(Special thanks to Asif and Naz Project London for taking part in this. You can find out more about NPL through their website

488 Replies to “Transnational South Asian Sexualities: Drag and Performance in London”

  1. I have mastered some new issues from your web page about computer systems. Another thing I’ve always believed is that computer systems have become something that each home must have for many reasons. They supply you with convenient ways in which to organize the home, pay bills, search for information, study, listen to music and in many cases watch tv shows. An innovative way to complete these types of tasks is by using a mobile computer. These pc’s are mobile ones, small, powerful and portable.

  2. Pingback: canada viagra
  3. It¦s in point of fact a great and useful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thanks a ton!

  5. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you Nevertheless I’m experiencing difficulty with ur rss . Don抰 know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting an identical rss downside? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  6. I do accept as true with all the concepts you have introduced on your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are too brief for newbies. Could you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  7. I wanted to draft you that very small observation to give thanks as before for your personal great information you have provided here. It is really unbelievably open-handed with you giving without restraint exactly what a few individuals would have offered for an e book to earn some profit on their own, specifically since you might have done it if you ever wanted. The principles likewise served like the fantastic way to recognize that many people have similar keenness just as my personal own to learn much more with regards to this matter. I am sure there are several more pleasant instances up front for individuals that examine your site.

  8. There are several models of baby vests to choose from. These outfits are great for special occasions or for everyday use. The most common styles of these outfits are those that feature pockets and buttons. These garments are made of lightweight fabric, and many parents choose these for their children. Unlike most vests, the baby vests are designed to keep the child warm. Some of them have hoods, which can help keep the baby warm.

  9. Pingback: mazhor4sezon
  10. Pingback: filmfilmfilmes
  11. Pingback: gRh9UPV
  12. Great post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am impressed! Extremely useful info specially the ultimate section 🙂 I deal with such information much. I was seeking this particular information for a very lengthy time. Thanks and best of luck.

  13. Pingback: drugs for sale
  14. Pingback: online pharmacies
  15. Pingback:
  16. Thanks for every other informative site. The place else may just I get that kind of information written in such an ideal approach? I have a challenge that I am simply now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

  17. Pingback:
  18. Most of the things you state is astonishingly precise and it makes me ponder why I hadn’t looked at this in this light previously. Your article truly did switch the light on for me as far as this specific subject matter goes. Nonetheless at this time there is 1 position I am not necessarily too comfortable with so while I attempt to reconcile that with the actual main idea of your issue, allow me see what all the rest of your visitors have to say.Nicely done.

  19. Pingback:
  20. Pingback: canada viagra
  21. Pingback: buy viagra 25mg
  22. Pingback: 9-05-2022
  23. Pingback:
  24. Pingback: TopGun2022
  25. I have read some good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you put to create such a magnificent informative website.

  26. Pingback: Xvideos
  27. Pingback: XVIDEOSCOM Videos
  28. Pingback:
  29. Pingback: ivanesva
  30. I discovered your weblog web site on google and examine a number of of your early posts. Proceed to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking ahead to reading more from you in a while!?

  31. Pingback: madridbet
  32. Pingback: meritroyalbet
  33. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was once a enjoyment account it. Glance advanced to far delivered agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

  34. Pingback: meritroyalbet
  35. I抳e learn a few just right stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you set to create the sort of excellent informative web site.

  36. Thank you a lot for providing individuals with an extraordinarily wonderful possiblity to read in detail from this blog. It really is so great and as well , packed with fun for me personally and my office friends to search your website at minimum 3 times in a week to read the newest items you have got. Of course, we are always amazed considering the unique pointers you give. Selected two points in this posting are without a doubt the best we’ve ever had.

  37. Pingback: eurocasino
  38. Good day! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wonderingif you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problemsfinding one? Thanks a lot!

  39. Pingback:
  40. ■ CD-ROM
    ■ Emagic MegaMouse for text based installation (free from
    LaunchIT NOW Plus generates from a single mouse click on any program icon, shortcut to open any file or folder with a single click on any item on your desktop.
    You can relaunch it with a double-click on its icon, or trigger it from the ‘Windows Logo’ key. It’s also great to have LaunchIT NOW

    6add127376 kanlaud

  41. Through that, I can avoid using any other external utility.
    The bundled project is available on GitHub and when you download it, you can always go back and change the options in the GUI using the options file I created.
    If the JCR is stored in a ZIP-file, every person can run the program directly. There is no need for having an installer. Just unzip the file and run the program.
    The JCR generated with the bundled program is always a valid JCR

    6add127376 sevbal

  42. Key Features
    Recover damaged and corrupted email for Microsoft Outlook
    Recovers email, notes, tasks, contact, calendars and attachments that have been deleted
    Efficiently scans and repairs mailboxes and PST files
    Identifies corrupt and inaccessible files
    Recovers messages from offline Exchange stores
    Organizes retrieved messages
    Supports Outlook 7-2003, Outlook 2002, Outlook 2000, Outlook XP, Outlook 2003, Outlook XP/2000, Outlook XP/2003, Outlook 2000/XP, Outlook 2003

    6add127376 caelglen

  43. Keep cracked up when you add this sound effect to your online conversation. Send more jokes to your friends. Don’t let them get serious – let them know that you’re quite the wit.
    o About 200+ different songs for you to enjoy
    o Sound effects from MorphVOX
    o Click and drag to change sounds with ease
    o No popups or ads for our users
    o Proprietary Music is protected by copyright law. Use at your

    6add127376 octajean

  44. The application is very easy to use. Tired of misusing the microphone while you record, you can use the full audio recorder inside the application. After getting started, just grab the microphone or other audio source. An understandable User Interface will assist you to do exactly what you need to do. Make your own ringtone, make your own voice greeting, listen to your music and slide shows, edit your favorite audio files, record your favorite talks and lectures and share your own voice through various social network

    6add127376 dasfab

  45. ASP.NET Org Chart Component can be easily customized using different skins for the different…

    ASP.NET Office Chart Component is a component that will let you make graphs and charts easily. Making charts is not a rocket science. But Microsoft doesn’t make the most complex charting tool. They are not even able to make simply charts. People get confused with the options they have to create a chart and getting overloaded with the shapes.
    ASP.NET Office Chart is here

    6add127376 talexah

  46. . Click “Install” to start.
    ■ Explorer Toolbar and Yahoo! Widgets (if not installed previously)
    ■ A Metric Converter Widget.

    The Widget Manager is a central and automatic management of widgets. As you may have noticed, it keeps updating your widgets to a newer version with more features, frequently, or randomly.
    Simply take advantage of the widget manager to let you manage your all of your widgets easily.

    6add127376 wahiant

  47. Rating:

    User Reviews of MixMeister BPM Analyzer

    – Please include a link to the book/app/software/service/tool that is the “original source” for the review/review content.
    – Reviews that use review stacking strategies of any kind will be rejected.
    – Clicking the star rating doesn’t add to any product listing.
    – Three and four star ratings only, when applicable.
    – If a product has been submitted

    6add127376 warwinn

  48. Excel Convert To Arabic and Arabic To English Converter is a simple utility application specially built in order to take any kind of Excel file (with Arabic numerals and text) and convert it to another language without losing any features.

    With the newly released version of the FREE AcquirePC Recovery Pro version comes a program giving users the chance to recover lost, deleted, corrupted files and folders one by one without deleting the original files.

    A smart file search and find program to

    6add127376 ordwam

  49. So what are your thoughts on this browser? Did you try it out? Let us know what you thought of it in the comment section below!


    I use to use this browser and it’s great, but there were bugs with closed tabs that I had to use two hands or left-click the tab, and sometimes it crashed. The most annoying was when I wanted to save a link on a new tab, you actually get into it, even though it crashes

    6add127376 garvdaeg

  50. Description:
    Arrow: a fancy name for the nice little code snippet we would like to present to you in this article. Arrow deals with the duplication of any MS Word content.
    A simple, graphical tool that allows you to start/stop the removal of duplicates from any document you may have, and its possible to manage the modification of the duplicate code snippets for each of the objects found in that document.

    What is Adobe Premiere Elements?
    Adobe Premiere Elements is

    6add127376 beldebb

  51. Get freeware apps! All the apps listed here are absolutely free, no payments, no annoying ads, no random external requests to provide your personal information.
    Just look and download!
    What is freeware, you ask? The freeware listing is kept updated with new apps on a daily basis, and is separated from the paid apps.

    Do you sell Joomla templates? If so, go to our sponsor and get 5+

    6add127376 walkand

  52. The first comprehensive English dictionary of its kind, MSDict Oxford Dictionary of the Bible is different in the way it covers nearly every detail of the Bible and every important word it contains. With over 4,000 words and with brief biographies of every person and places mentioned, MSDict Oxford Dictionary of the Bible provides the most detailed information on the Bible. A quick reference to its listings, graphics and system tools gives students great help as they study. From press and print to the origins of the

    6add127376 yamyjaq

  53. Pingback:
  54. With any luck, in future versions, we  will be able to add advanced features.
    Comes with a set of amazing conversion methods and allows to save conversion data.
    Indeed, the app is free from sponsored advertising and offers a trial period of 30 days.
    What’s New in Version 5.12
    Version 5.12:
    Minor bug fixes and improvements.

    Stella to Stella is a word-processing solution for horizontal scrolling and basic page formatting.

    6add127376 idolsire

  55. As such, it can be used by an absolute beginner to simply help him or her organize and sort data without any further training. And that’s the reason why the author of Unreal Commander assumed it could be provided at a reasonable price.

    Sturm, Tragen, Graben, Trägen. Deutschlands hohen Verkehrszeichen am Straßenrand und auf den Geh- und Ufahinterungen. Trotzdem sind auch

    6add127376 gavrbet

  56. I’m no longer sure the place you are getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time finding out much more or figuring out more. Thank you for excellent info I used to be searching for this information for my mission.

  57. ■ No limited attempts to open provided page, so you can repeat the process faster.
    ■ File downloading is performed automatically when you type next key in the HTML page:
    ■ etc. Different browsers require different key sequences. They are shown in the user manual.
    To verify download our program works in Internet Explorer 7/8/9/10/11, Firefox
    et al. You will find there a command to download the file.
    NOTE! The 05e1106874 matamir

  58. So now, if you have some strange or unusual characters in texts, blog comments, emails or anywhere else, Unicode converter has the solution you are looking for – get to know it and enjoy using it!

    Users reviews

    Related comments

    We have this type of discrepancy with the link part, some videos link directly to the filesystem and others to the server.
    With this plugin we have a list in the side panel of the player with all the links to the local videos. 05e1106874 spiithe

  59. Usually I do not read article on blogs, however Iwould like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a lookat and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks,very great post.

  60. ** Add an item to your task. You can assign a priority. You can archive completed items. You can mark a task as “completed”. You can add a comment. Use Tags. Use Reminders.
    ** Use TodoKey, which is a TodoList extension that lets you easily add todo items from mail, OneNote, anywhere else.
    ** Use the client application to automate the process of adding items from mail, tasks from OneNote, 05e1106874 kaiksim

  61. #CCtion2018 is pretty accurate, one of the more fascinating games in recent times (follow it on twitter!) and the cinematic trailer is darkly stylistic. Fully cross platform (PC, Mac & Linux + Android) and free-to-play.

    #CCtion2018 is pretty accurate, one of the more fascinating games in recent times (follow it on twitter!) and the cinematic trailer is darkly stylistic. Fully cross platform (PC, Mac & Linux + Android 8cee70152a playken

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.