A drag queen will be taking on the Mr World Singapore title, and Singaporean comedian Mark Lee receives a Golden Horse nomination for playing a drag queen.
The two sides of Fairul Edham Hirdayat
In order to stand out from other hopefuls auditioning for the Mr World Singapore pageant, Fairul Edham Hirdayat decided not to play it safe by revealing his profession. Fairul is a professional drag queen who also goes by the name Farrah Shamrock.
Fairul was initially afraid of letting the competition’s organiser, Beam Artistes, know about his gig. “I was afraid they would not accept me. That was a big obstacle and I asked myself, ‘what if they don’t want someone like me to represent [Singapore]?’”
But Beam Artistes have embraced Fairul’s fairer side, featuring his drag persona on their Instagram page after an interview with The New Paper.
Drag is an artform and a platform
Fairul sees joining this competition as a platform to help his fellow Singaporean drag queens gain recognition for their art.
In a Facebook post after his announcement of joining Mr World Singapore, Fairul said, “We have so many talented queens but no one has given us the time of day. Drag is an art. It’s time you understand this art. You may not respect us, but respect our art.”
He also said in an interview with The New Paper, “I want to give a voice to the LGBTQ community… If Mr World Singapore can accept me for me, the opportunities and platforms are endless for us.”
“We should put ourselves out there for our stories to be heard. Whether the outcome is good or bad, it is better to be heard than not heard at all,” he added.
Mark Lee’s drag queen character gains Golden Horse nomination
His movie hasn’t opened in cinemas yet, but Mark Lee’s character has already earned him a Golden Horse nomination.
The 51-year-old comedian has been nominated for Best Leading Actor for the film, Number 1, by local director Ong Kuo Sin. From prior reports in Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, Lee’s character is a retrenched employee of a multinational company, who turns to performing in drag in order to make a living for his family.
Only second Singaporean up for the award
The nomination is a prestigious one, and Lee is just the second Singaporean artiste up for the honour after Gurmit Singh’s work in Just Follow Law in 2007.
Despite that, Lee said that he “had no feeling at first” when he received news of his nomination. “My wife was much more excited than I was,” he said. It was only when he had received congratulatory messages from colleagues that it began to sink in for him. “Right now, I’m really happy.”
What’s it like getting into drag?
MM2 Entertainment, which produced the film, has not yet released any stills from the movie where Lee is in drag. For Lee, the process of getting into drag was one of the toughest parts of the shoots. According to reports from 8 Days, it took Lee four hours each time he had to dress in his drag character, and then spend the next 12 hours or so in said costume, with heels on.
However, Lee thoroughly enjoyed the role, and is pleased his efforts are being recognised at one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies in the Chinese-language movie industry.
While Lee is elated over the nominations, he is keeping expectations on winning low. “To be nominated is really good enough already. Of course, it would be great to win, but I would still be happy if I don’t,” he shared with 8 Days.