Off stage, Tan is the theatre-trained former magazine editor known for his humour and razor-sharp wit. On stage, he’s Becca D’Bus, larger-than-life drag performer, entertaining crowds with a monthly, whip-smart musical revue Riot! at Orchard Road nightspot Tab. Says Tan: “You can see Riot! as Singapore’s only regular drag revue, or you can see it simply as a space for people to come have fun in.”
Unlike most drag performances, the 37-year-old’s approach has an artistic bent, with elaborate disguises meant to challenge typical notions of beauty. Tan explains: “For me, Becca has succeeded as a creative entity when she makes people stop, look and think upon entering a room.”
It’s what earned him a role in the multi-disciplinary production The Incredible Adventures of Border Crossers, which was commissioned for the opening of Singapour en France – le Festival in Paris earlier this year. (The three-month-long festival was co-presented by the likes of the National Arts Council and National Heritage Board to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.)
It also means that Becca’s outfits reach Jean Paul Gaultier levels of outrageousness. Besides the sweeping kimono-sleeved gown and thorny headpiece made of cable tie fasteners he’s got on here (all DIY-ed by him), pieces he brought for the shoot include a wig made up of four wigs sewn together, and a bubble dress stuffed with 30m of tulle. His tongue-in-cheek tip to dressing up for party season: “Make sure someone looks at you and goes, ‘That was ill-advised’.”
An adapted version first appeared in Female’s December issue.