QUEER CONTEMPORARIES: In Conversation with Chai Latte
CL (about their own practice):
Usually spoken word or music performance with political commentary on inequalities and challenges not only I have faced, but the community has faced as a whole.
SS: Your film is loaded with emotion, and is one of the most direct and personal works in the show. How does it feel being that open with an audience about some of your real-life experiences of both success and mistreatment?
CL: Honestly, it’s freeing. It’s liberation at one of its purest forms. It’s been a long road of being broken down in multiple relationships both romantic and platonic, surviving sexual, physical, psychological and drug abuse, and navigating my way out of the hurt. The best cure I could find was writing from raw emotions and performing it to a crowd and then having them connect and relate. It gave me the power to convert my hidden wounds into battle scars that I wear proudly on my sleeve.
SS: After watching your film, what do you hope viewers will take away from it most?
CL: I hope they will take away a multitude of things, that queer people know pain, exploitation, erasure and loss, but most of all we know how to survive. I feel even though we are tied together through our similar stories it can get lost in translation and lack of empathy, the queer community must remember we are all in this boat together. So, if my work can convey one thing, I would hope it would be togetherness and community.
SS: Is collaboration a big part of your practice as an artist and identity as a drag queen?
CL: It’s actually not! I’m a very introverted and isolated person, due to my ADHD and social anxieties I teach myself all I know as I struggle asking for help, so this was very much out of my comfort zone, but it was important and key to the message that needed to be put across.
SS: Your art practice is very multi-faceted, creating works through poetry, performance, spoken word etc. Do you have a preferred medium you work with, or do all of these areas feed into each other?
CL: I would definitely say that they all feed into each other and weave in and out of the varying forms of literature. It’s all rooted in the same mindset. Writing is such a beautiful thing for me, I always right playing instrumentals, whether it’s a poem, spoken word piece or song, so I can find the melody of the words I’m constructing together, and I often see words with colours so I match those. The only form that’s kind of independent is when I am writing lyrics for someone else’s project as then I have to write from a different place.
SS: Do you feel there is room for more intersections between visual art and drag? Could this be better represented within the scene, or do you think the two are quite separate?
CL: I think if lockdown has evidenced anything within the queer community, it’s that drag is literally visual art, and thus digital drag has been such a huge success, we are used to using visual mediums to perform and so it was easy to translate that to on screen performances. But, I believe this is just the start, digital drag is here to stay, I was lost before it to be honest with you, writing my own music and trying to find bookings in the drag scene was HARD! And now I’ve found my lane, visual art can bring international talent together, explore multiple facets of the artist and so it coincides with what drag is about very neatly!
We would just like to thank Chai for taking the time to answer our questions and for allowing us to share their work through our Queer Contemporaries Showcase!