THE PIN. Where did you grow up and what were your family values around culture and identity?
AYSHA BUFFET. My family and I moved to Australia when I was about 4 years old from the Philippines. We moved around a lot but I’ve always grown up in the south-eastern suburbs. My parents are very traditional and heavily religious so,a lot of our family values were based around Christian values. I was definitely really involved with my family and with church life.
When did drag first come into your life?
A. The Christian values that I had growing up meant that I thought being gay, in drag and performing were associated with being feminine. So, growing up, I never got involved in that sort of stuff. Drag came into my life a year and a half ago but it feels like a decade ago.
Does performing as Aysha play into your sense of self and identity?
A. When I left the church I did a complete clear out of my life. I moved out of home, I quit uni and went into fashion styling. I loved styling women, photoshoots and that whole glamorous side of fashion. So when drag came about it was an outlet, I was able to create outfits for myself that I had always wanted to see on someone else.
Do you think having a cultural understanding plays into the development of yourself as a performer and who you are on stage?
There’s just 2 other asian drag queens on the scene in Melbourne. They’re not performer-performers that host and can be theatrical so I knew that was my market. Naming myself “Aysha Buffet” resonates with me because I grew up with lots of food and it is so obvious that I am Asian. That plays into Aysha’s schtick.
Does race play a part in the drag queen world?
A. Definitely not.
We have such a colourful mix of drag queens. Drag is one of those things that blurs the lines between what is right and what is wrong. At the end of the day we are still men in dresses, creating different personalities and personifying ourselves.
THE PIN. If you could give yourself one piece of advice about being in the skin you’re in, what would it be?AYSHA BUFFET. Get the fuck over it and move on.
- This interview has been edited and condensed.