In this exclusive interview for Element Magazine, we spoke with one of Singapore’s brightest stars, the drag queen comedian who has been keeping the ‘red dot’ laughing for more than 20 years, Kumar.
O n the weekend, Home Club is a sanctuary for the legions of young and chic Singaporeans. Superlatively cool, it’s the kind of venue where you’ll find the hottest EDM and Trance DJs from around the globe sharing a stage with local spoken word duos and up-and-coming hip hop acts. Boys in Converse sneakers dance alongside girls in printed mini-dresses. The crowd is specific, perhaps niche.
But tonight is different.
As I recline in a chair facing the calm and still Singapore River, a steady stream of people arrives. I notice there’s no singular flavor to the crowd. I spot a well-dressed, middle-aged couple. An exuberant group of friends; college aged/20-somethings. A nervous and excited auntie who was drawn out by her sisters for an early birthday surprise. An expat foursome on a double date. Young and old, gay and straight, they all converge to sip cocktails and lagers, and enjoy cheerful conversations before the show. The diversity is rather amazing. I cannot think of many contemporary performers who would attract such a varied, eclectic audience.
We are all here to see Kumar.
One of Singapore’s most prolific celebrities, Kumarason Chinnadurai has nearly done it all. In a career that has spanned more than twenty years, Kumar has been a television host, an actor, a cabaret performer, and a dancer. Tonight, he embodies his favorite role: a stand-up comedian who appears in drag. Coincidentally, this sassy, sharp-tongued diva also happens to be the character for which he is best known. And that fact is remarkable. If you consider Singapore’s conservative leanings, the idea that one of it’s most visible celebrity personalities is a minority three times over (openly gay, of Indian heritage, and a drag performer) is profound.
In this special issue of Element Magazine where we celebrate the art of drag, Kumar graciously agreed to speak with us. Together, we take a look back at his long and varied career, his many struggles, his attitude toward fame, and what makes him happy, today.
In the beginning…
Kumar, the man behind the makeup, came from very humble beginnings. He is the fourth child and first son for his immigrant Indian father and Singaporean mother. In his younger days, he made a modest living by working as a singing waiter at “Cheers!” a food and beverage establishment. When that became trite for him, he took a chance and participated in an entertainment competition on stage at Haw Par Villa, a local tourist attraction. It was in that instance that Kumar first experienced a real taste of show business. He found himself immediately hooked.
Read the full interview cover story on Kumar in ELEMENT Vol.7.
(Search “ELEMENT magazine” on app store and download it to your smart phones/tablet devices; Vol.7 is to be released by 22nd April)