You don't go to school to learn how to be a drag performer
I impersonate people for a living. I’ve always wanted to be an emcee but I didn’t know how. So I looked up all the famous comedians I admired—Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho—on the Internet and learned from them. I figured out what was right for me and created my own style. So when people come to see me, they know it’s Pangina’s show.
It’s not just the singing that needs to be right; every movement needs to make sense too. It takes a lot of studying—you just don’t put on a fucking dress and do the show.
A show is more fun when you interact with your audience
I always play with my audience and make sure they have a good time. However, you need to know who you can tease and who you can’t by looking into their eyes. And then use your instinct. If people don’t have a sense of humor, that’s too bad. I perform in a gay club so the show needs to be very interactive, spontaneous and organic, almost like a comedy show.
Not everyone has a sense of humor
There was one time someone came up on stage. I asked him, “Where are you from?” and he said “Cuba.” I teased him by saying, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” After the show he was waiting outside with a gun and two Thais. That was kind of scary. The security guards told me not to come back that night because it was very dangerous. But I had to return the next day since I had a job to do—and this is like my home. You have to understand that when you work in the nightlife business, people easily take offense when they’re drunk. So you need to be ready for anything that could happen.
Passion and practice makes you a successful performer
You need to love what you do. When I know I’m going to perform, I listen to the song I’ll be singing a thousand times a day. I make sure my whole outfit, from head to toe, is super perfect. It’s not just the singing that needs to be right; every movement needs to make sense too. It takes a lot of studying—you just don’t put on a fucking dress and do the show.
People have no idea how painful it is to dress like this
The corset constricts my breathing. The fake eyelashes are so effing-heavy. And your penis is up between your legs. But if you love to do something that much, the pain just goes away.
The Thais’ attitude toward drag performers have changed over the years
When I started my career about four years ago, people didn’t understand what drag was. They saw me as a person with too much makeup. They were scared of me. Now the audience seems to understand drag performances better. You would be surprised to know that straight people actually love watching drag queens, but they don’t want to go to gay venues to watch a show. That’s why they come to bars like Maggie Choo’s where they feel comfortable.