Peach Chutney: A Cabaret Collective Representing Queer South Asian Gender Expression

Peach Chutney: A Cabaret Collective Representing Queer South Asian Gender Expression

“Gender reality is performative which means, quite simply, that it is real only to the extent that it is performed.”  -  Judith Butler.

As we begin to understand the fluidity of gender in its phenomenology, expression becomes a key for its exploration. Gender expression occurs every day in how we dress, talk, and our political views. One could argue that these systems that have existed for a long time are the reason how gender is enforced; some acts are associated with feminity and others with masculinity. LGBTQIA+ forward narratives weaken these systems. They make us question gender roles and give us a non-binary lens to look at the world.

Arguably the most dynamic art form in gender expression and exploration is 'Drag'; the performance of feminity, masculinity and non-binary forms that challenge oppressive and divisive norms and creates space for more liberated self-expression. Combining drag with song and dance, The Bitten Peach is UK's only pan-Asian cabaret collective that champions the queer community and cultural representation of South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Nominated for 'Best Collective' for QX Cabaret Award in 2019, The Bitten Peach is made up of performers of Asian descent working in a variety of nightlife performance-genres, including drag, burlesque, dance, comedy, music, and circus.​

​Founded at the start of 2019 by ShayShay, alongside Evelyn Carnate and Lilly SnatchDragon, The Bitten Peach has been dedicated to increasing and diversifying Asian representation on the drag and cabaret scene and educating non-Asians on racial issues.

James Klug

Born from the same collective is an official South Asian troupe of cabaret performers called Peach Chutney. Earlier this year they hosted a showcase of performances on queer expression in the South Asian community at The Pleasance theatre in London. East London’s queen alt-Bollywood collective, Hungama also performed a set for the night. The show hosted performers like the drag queen Mahatma Khandi, Mama Dosa, Paul Bollywood and PatElle.

Peach Chutney's shows are some of the most joyous and vibrant nights of the year, highlighting the amazing Queer South Asian talent in London. One particular show had a fun Summer getaway theme and the stunning cabin crew of the collective offered in-flight entertainment including puppets, High School Musical, whips and a poppadom eating contest.

"I discovered how multilayered drag is, that it can be political, angry, fierce, protest. It can be fun, messy, trashy, colourful. And all those things can happen at once, which is just like what it's like being a human."
ShayShay, co-founder — The Bitten Peach

The Bitten Peach is continuing to grow as a collective. 8 months ago, they released a documentary on Netflix’s YouTube channel, Still Watching Netflix, which was developed and created as part of The Netflix Documentary Talent Fund. It's directed by the non-binary British-Indian writer, dancer, and actor, Shiva Raichandani. Named Peach Paradise, the film captures the background and cultural history of the Founder Shayshay and co-founder Lily SnatchDragon and their struggles as queer Asian people in a world that lacks representation of their community. They talk about racism and transphobia that have affected their lives and inspired them to form a collective that creates a space safe and free from that bigotry.

You can check it out below.

Find out more about Bitten Peach Here.

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