DIVA sat down with the host of Bi Pride 2023 to talk about the upcoming celebration
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY CAPTURED BY CORINNE
493-534 BC China. Duke Ling is madly in love with his courtesan Mizi Xia. The pair are walking through a garden when Mizi picks a peach and takes a bite. Relishing in its sweetness, Mizi gives the rest of the peach to his lover. For the rest of history, “the bitten peach” becomes a symbol in Chinese culture for queer love.
2023. Lilly Snatchdragon flashes her tattoo of a bitten peach on her wrist while telling me about hosting Bi Pride on 2 September. Lilly Snatchdragon is a jack of many trades: she’s an award-winning drag queen, a burlesque performer, a host, and one of the founders of the queer pan-Asian production company The Bitten Peach.
The fact that Lilly would be hosting the Bi Pride would perhaps be a bit of a surprise to her teenage self. Despite having crushes on friends as a teen, Lilly was hesitant to explore her own queerness.
Even after she had her heart broken at uni by her girlfriend, Lilly was set on convincing herself that she was straight. In fact, when she joined her drag family – The Family Fierce – she vehemently denied their claims that she was queer. “I would be like: I’m just an ally! A really great fucking ally,” she laughs.
However, after she met her partner, the drag king Mark Anthony, she was introduced to the idea of pansexuality. For the first time, it was a label that felt right.
Events like Bi Pride are vital for providing the bi and pan community a safe space away from biphobia. “Bisexual humans get so much shit,” Lilly laments to me. “We’re constantly told we’re greedy and we can’t make up our minds.”
“On a personal sense, I spent so long thinking I was wrong, and that it was a phase and that one day I would choose.”
For Lilly, the community which Bi Pride provides is like a CupASoup – it’s a “warm hug”.
If you’re attending Bi Pride this year, you’ll likely see a very glamorous Lilly leaving the audience in stitches with her hosting. But her journey towards performing was not as smooth as her comedic delivery.
After attending drama school, Lilly struggled with auditions. “Going to auditions was really hard being a mixed-race Asian performer who is plus-sized,” Lilly explains. “Even at the time I was a size 10-12, but I was still too big to fit into that Asian stereotype. My accent was too RP, and my look was too Asian.”
However, after advertising a spare room in her house, her whole life changed. One day Rubyyy Jones waltzed in for a house viewing and opened the doors of burlesque to Lilly. She began attending as many shows as she could, learning the tricks of the trade by stage managing and hosting raffles. Eventually, she found a spot on the stage that was her own.
The Bitten Peach, the queer pan-Asian cabaret production company that Lilly set up with ShayShay, was made to create more spaces for queer Asian performers on stage. Inspired by the work of The Coco Butter Club (who support performers of colour), The Bitten Peach provides a space for queer Asian performers to flourish.
“I was so sick of seeing white people dressed in bathrobes with chopsticks in their hair dressed as geishas for Chinese New Year,” Lilly says. “There was a lot of cultural appropriation and no one seemed to be talking about it.”
“I told ShayShay that we should take over London on Lunar New Year and do a shit ton of shows so no one can do a show because we’re doing it. We created seven to ten shows during 2019 and we sold out every single one.”
The Bitten Peach has now grown into a broad family that supports and nurtures other queer Asian performers in a historically unkind industry. Lilly’s tattoo of a bitten peach on her wrist (which she got in Vegas) is a reminder that this new wave of inclusive cabaret is here to stay.
There is something about Lilly’s energy – her charisma and charm – which feels a lot like a warm hug. After our call, I’m left wanting Bi Pride to be here right now on my doorstep. I’m also left craving a CupASoup. And maybe a peach…
You can get your tickets for Bi Pride on 2 September 2 pm -10 pm here.
DIVA magazine celebrates 29 years in print in 2023. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.