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Duality Diva
By Dal Chodha

At the tender age of 19, a young man in Leicestershire gets ready for a day at work. He puts on his trousers, shoes and shirt of choice and then travels to work his 9-6 job in retail. Albeit working as a make-up artist, he seems quiet and some may argue even introverted. He is the perfect example of the modern Asian male living a paradoxical life.

Taboo and the denial of truth comes easy to the Asian community and ironically, there is no denying it. From the scores of young women who often hide during the day under religious clothing and wear Lancôme lip-gloss and sexy underwear, to the hordes of young Asian men, travelling across Europe on colourful “Stag Nights” before they marry someone of mummy-ji’s choice.

‘Pazz’ is no different and the simplicity with which his 9-6 life as a make up artist can be described is in strong opposition to his alternative life as a professional female impersonator and transgender beauty queen.

“My alter ego ‘Shinata’ or ‘Bipasha/Beyonce’ usually pops out now and then…usually at weekends,” he says. “My lifestyle as a boy is so hectic it now leaves little time for ‘Shinata’, to come out of her shell.” Which is nothing short of an understatement. “I have become very reserved and shy as a lad, I don’t really talk that much and I like to keep myself to myself, where as when I become ‘Shinata’ I turn into a total diva.”

From a young age, working as a male model, securing the title of runner up in ‘Mr Leicestershire’ and also taking part in the ‘Asian Supermodel Awards’, something wasn’t really all that fun. Looks aren’t everything after all, are they? “I had a lot of South Asian transgender friends and I would see them lock themselves in a room for two hours and transform themselves from average looking boys into stunning girls. I thought to myself, god I look better then them as a boy imagine what I would look like as a girl!” So vanity prevails? “The first time I wore make up and dressed up in women’s clothing was when I was only three years old at my cousin’s wedding, but if your talking about when I did it properly, it was when I was 18,” ‘Pazz’ laughs.

How did he find himself in sequins and lip-gloss? “I was staying over a friends house in London and she is an established transvestite artist who works in a top club.

One day she received a call as one of the performers didn’t show up, my friend then turned to me and asked me to dress up as a girl and do a Bollywood dance. At first I said no and then after giving it some thought I was like, this will be my first time properly dressing up as a girl, just do it. I did it and I felt on top of the world.” How did it feel? “I felt sexy, glamorous and I loved the attention I got from the young lads.” In short, ‘Pazz’ declares, “it was amazing.”

The duality of ‘Pazz’s’ life as ‘Shinata’ is something to be enamoured by. “At times it was very tough being the way I was growing up. There was a lot of taunting and name calling from other children and even my male cousins, but I never really understood why they did it, but having the experience of being teased just made me a stronger person. You have to learn to accept what you are and realise that not everyone is the same. I always knew since childhood,” he explains, “it may sound stupid but I knew since I was a little kid I was born in the wrong sex. At first I just thought I was living a regular life as a young girl until reality hit me and I realised I was a boy.” 

“It’s not just something that happened overnight; I’ve always wanted to be a girl. Since childhood I was dressing up as a girl wearing my sister’s clothes and make up, parading around in skimpy outfits.

It wasn’t until I was four years old and watched the ‘Miss World Pageant’ that I realised that that was how I was going to become famous, by becoming a international beauty queen!” ‘Pazz’s’ views on this could be indicative of his tender age, captivatingly they support a level of maturity a child would need to make such a decision and true to his words, fourteen years later, ‘Shinata Sangha/Bipasha Beyonce’ won the ‘Miss Glamour Queen United Kingdom’ 2006 and ‘Miss Gay India’ 2007 titles.

Shinata’ is soon to be featured in the ‘BBC Asian Network Report - Life's a Drag’ on Monday 29th October 2007, which aims to uncover the secrets behind what is often perceived and shunned as a freakish subculture – Britain’s Asian drag queens. When asked why he felt the need to take part while others may shy away, he answers, “simple. It was the perfect platform for me to voice my opinions and be heard as a normal human being. The Asian society are still very narrow minded towards homosexuals and transgender women; it’s still a major taboo in our culture. I did this documentary to pass on a message and tell the world that I to am a child of god, a child of the universe, I have a right to live, a right to be heard, to be accepted and respected by the rest of humanity.”

Short of sounding like a scripted ‘Miss World’ speech, ‘Pazz’ stops and relates the statement to his own culture and community. “We transgender women are talented, loving, beautiful, intelligent and human, we have the right to live, to be here and be heard. Please accept us and let us live our lives the way we want to, it’s not really asking for much is it?”

“I became the first ever South Asian transvestite to win a national beauty pageant in the world and I certainly hope I am not the last.”

Asian Network Report- Life's a Drag

TX 18.30-19.00 Monday 29th October 2007

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