Fenominah / Malaysia
“I live in a stagnant society and grew up in an orthodox family. Discrimination started at home. All those years, living in a traditional family, my mother, a Chinese Muslim, would always preach about the importance of Islam. She would do spot checks on me at school. She would call me names and beat me up at home, in school, in public, all the time. I was discriminated on by my teachers and classmates. My mother did not want to see her son growing up into ‘pondan.’ Which makes me feel very alienated from who I truly am, and who I truly wanted to be. I want to be free, to admire women without feeling like a pervert. I love being able to look at cute guys without feeling like a horny bitch.
I looked for escape. I began to love make up. I’ve always been fascinated about women in general, especially those Hollywood actresses, how beautiful they look. The inspiration and aspiration started growing. Then I discovered drag. I was so fascinated on how we can make our faces as canvas for us to paint and eventually become whoever we want ourselves to be, a hyped up version of course.
At the same time, I faced the darkest moment in life. I lost everything, my boyfriend of 5 years, my job.
Then I met Coco when I heard that there was going to be a drag show in town, I went and was so caught in awe of the presence of a drag persona and the clique was instant. She loved me and cared for me more than anyone else in this world did. I started to help her out on her shows, and one night, Fenominah was born. I wouldn’t say Fenominah is a split personality of who I am but much rather a hyped up, glam-ed up version of me. THAT is the perfect platform for me to raise my freak flag, a platform for me to just forget about shit that had happened to me in life, to just be nervous and get my head to live in that very moment. To be able to give happiness and make people smile through my shows/performances. Cuz I know I’ve been to that darkest place in life. And I’m not even sure if I’m out of it yet. Drag has really changed my life, and how I think of life. Fenominah might not have the flashiest dresses, the creativity of the gods, but I know she can make the audience live the very moment that she’s in, to have fun and forget about the bad things in life.”
Photo by Hannah Reyes Morales.