Being Women

The Untold Story- An Interview With The Drag Artist, Alex Matthew

How progressive we are when it comes to gender equality, LGBT, Transgender rights? Are we doing enough to embrace each and everyone around or prejudice has made us split? Read this Drag artist’s interview and how their identities are often misinterpreted. And what is being expected from society by them.

“The political climate is not helpful for artistic expression”, says Alex Matthew, one of the most popular and upcoming performing drag artists in India today.

It was back in 2013 that I met Alex Matthew, introduced to me by a friend, at a café on Church Street. An unassuming, shy lad then, it’s been fascinating for me to see his growth and rise to fame as ‘Mayamma’.

Having come a long way since his early days in Bangalore, Alex has definitely carved a niche for himself, and how. “I make sure I get paid for the things I do now,” laughs the talented artist.

Going back to the time when the journey started, Alex shares, “I have always been interested in performing – theatre, singing, dance, I have done it all. Though back in college, I was just a happy-go-lucky guy who would perform and entertain audiences at the drop of a hat, when asked, even without getting paid.”

So why drag, I ask. “I wanted to do something that would make me stand out, and drag gave me that space,” adds Alex with laughter. “Very happy I am with what I am doing. Being a drag artist, I have been able to lend a voice to many people. I have been doing activism onstage. I am famous now, and I use my fame in a positive way to benefit the community,” he informs.

It wasn’t a bed of roses when Alex started his journey as Mayamma. His choice of artistic expression led him to lose a few corporate jobs. “I would get interviewed, and they would come back saying I am not a good fit. They would judge me based on my onstage act without testing my actual skill set. It got to a point that I was ready to give up drag, and that was when a friend of mine put me in touch with Shubha Chako, who runs the NGO ‘Solidarity’ “.

To battle this ignorance, Alex says, “Sex education should be mandatory in schools to sensitize children at an early age. What is even more surprising and disappointing is when brands express insensitivity. They come to me to endorse them without fully understanding what I really do. Once I was approached to endorse a menstruation product, which is ridiculous”.

The good thing, though, the talented artist has been able to bring in change since the time he donned his avatar of Mayamma – albeit slowly. “I was hired by the hotel, Lalit Ashok, to host their events and also work as a corporate trainer to train their staff all through the country and make them aware about our community. I was given the freedom to dress up the way I wanted while at work. It was a great work environment for any queer person and allowed me to flourish,” informs Alex. 

He goes on to add, “While hosting one such event, I was approached by someone who wanted to dress up like me when attending my events. I encouraged him to be free to express himself and from the following week, I noticed him in a different avatar!”

Closer home, it wasn’t a cakewalk for Alex to get his family to accept his choice of artistic expression. Following his first onstage performance as a drag, Alex also came out gay. It was quite a shock for his family, and it took time for them to get used to the idea. “It didn’t happen overnight like in the movies; it took many baby steps to reach where I am today. They were shunned and ostracized by relatives, and that was rough. However, over the years, my parents have been able to understand what is more important,” says Alex.

In 2019, Alex made a big decision of going independent. He decided to work for himself.  “I wanted to do drag full-time, but just after that, the pandemic hit. It was tough initially.” The difficulties did deter Alex’s journey and he started churning out content after content on Instagram and very soon received the ‘blue tick’. “Following my account getting verified, Instagram contacted me, and assigned someone from their team to work with me and guide me on how to navigate my content,” declares Alex.

Apart from that, Alex also works with many corporates in different capacities. He now has a manager that looks into his work interests.  “Things are lot better now, and I couldn’t have been more grateful,” says the content creator.

When asked how conducive it is for artists like him to grow in Bangalore, the drag artist responds, “The political climate is not helpful for creative expression. Most artists are scared to express themselves freely. Even mainstream performers are facing protests; imagine what the queer performers will have to deal with.”

“Though drag artists in Delhi are flourishing. There are many venues where they can perform, and the atmosphere is quite encouraging. Even Bombay isn’t so bad,” responds the performer.

I was curious to know if there will ever be a transition from stage to a set, will Alex want to be in a movie. “I would love to see a blockbuster of my story, but I would never want a straight filmmaker from Bollywood to do that. We should get a chance to tell our story ourselves,” says Alex and signs off saying, “The conversation will be a difficult one when I eventually come to it.”

By Taniya Talukdar

Taniya is a mother of two adorable girls, shy IT professional, passionate writer, reluctant wife, great friend, worthy daughter, supportive woman, able homemaker – all rolled into one and many more. She says she is working on peeling the intense role of a modern woman, one at a time.
She can be contacted at

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