Vanda Miss Joaquim, who named herself after Singapore’s national flower, is one of Singapore most famous drag queens.
She represented Singapore in the second season of Drag Race Thailand — the first version of the iconic show outside of the US.
But, as a Malay Muslim, she courted controversy by wearing a burka outfit.
In conservative Singapore, where gay sex is illegal, she was denounced by religious groups for perversion.
But, Vanda Miss Joaquim persevered. Her venue House of Miss Joaquim is now a hub for Singapore drag shows and artistes.
She is, almost single-handedly, nurturing the next generation of Singapore queens.
Vanda Miss Joaquim, performed by Azizul Izzy Mahathir, and the story of how she found success and acceptance is at the center of a new short film.
‘I didn’t just want to tell the remarkable story of Azizul Izzy Mahathir and his rise to stardom’ said local filmmaker Melvin Tseng.
‘His story mattered to me not just because of the success he’s achieved’.
‘They call us a disgrace’
Vanda Miss Joaquim explains hate and abuse did not dampen her passion for drag.
‘There’s a lot of hate, a lot of comments’ she explained ‘They call us a disgrace, and that if they see us outside they will punch us, all these threats’.
The film also shows how the drag artiste’s family reacted when they found out about her life as a drag queen.
‘At first I was very shocked, I was very sad’ her mother told Tsenf. ‘A career like this, I don’t like.’
But, Vanda Miss Joaquim worked hard to become successful and support her mother.
At the same time, her venue and coaching inspired more Singaporeans to enter the art.
‘Through this documentary, I also aimed to send out a message on the insides of the Art of Drag in Singapore and its relevance in today’s time’ Tseng told Gay Star News.