Backstage at a gay nightclub in Israel. Some of the most provocative performers in the Middle East are getting ready to take the stage. They’re part of a thriving LGBTQ community here in Tel Aviv. And they have something to say. Good night! Girls, ladies, all those in between. Hi, hello! Do you want them to see the ancient secret of tucking? I don’t know if we need that, actually. If the idea of progressive drag in a state defined by religion surprises you, it should. In a region where you can be jailed or killed for being gay, Israel and specifically Tel Aviv, stands out as an oasis. But it’s still a place filled with conflict and contradiction. How does putting on a wig and lip-singing to Rihanna solve anything? Cue the Queens, who are about to school us all. Nona Chalant, Drag Mother of the Avant Garde. I really feel I’m a part of progress in the country. I think Drag will save the world. Moksha, the religious idol. I don’t always observe everything the way that I know I’ve been taught to. Asis D’Orange, radical pacifist. My goal is a nonviolent revolution. And a young man hoping to join their ranks. German is a soldier who wants to be a queen. A year into his compulsory service, he spends most of his time on base. But when he’s not in uniform, he does makeup. It’s not just a hobby…it’s a passion through which he fell in love with the idea of drag. In one week, he’s hoping to perform for the first time. But he’s never even been to a show, until tonight. German! Hi! Oh, hi, Connie! Nice to meet you! It’s nice to meet you. Can I give you a hug? You’re going to not get any sleep tonight. My goal is to make it that you are so hungover tomorrow morning. Watch me work! Traditionally, drag means presenting as a classic, feminine woman— which in and of itself is subversive. Performance as a tool of resistance against gender norms. But the pageantry of presenting as female is no longer the only goal. The new generation of queens has expanded what drag can do and say. Freedom of speech is an understatement. While I’m still trying to parse the political messages, the fashion is something I connect to, and so does German. It’s Nona Chalant that he’s here to see. They began corresponding online 5 years ago. Nona is his idol, but he’s hoping she’ll become his mentor. I’m happy to see him in real life. He’s like my son. Do you see drag potential in German? Of course. He has great aesthetics. When do you think German’s going to do drag? Are you priming him? Well depends on him. Did you see anything that you were like, “Oh, this isn’t something that I want to do”? Yes I saw the number that Asis was doing with the flag. Doing naughty things with the flag, I won’t do. Every time we put the lashes on and go out to the streets, it’s political. It’s very political. To be us, it’s political. Good morning. I slept four hours after getting home from the drag show last night. A lot of these numbers relied on, you know, being very attuned to, you know, cultural specifics. I needed to know more about the guy with the pink paint. Meet Asis D’Orange. His whole life is a statement. He’s gender fluid. He dumpster dives to curb food waste. He thinks meat is murder so he went fruitarian. He went to jail for refusing to serve in the military. This is great. Oh my gosh. I’m going to try this on. Yeah, let’s do it. You’re gonna just–okay. Well, you are not one to follow rules– or dressing rooms, apparently. So let’s talk about last night, and the show. I’m not Israeli, but even for me I was like “Oh, this is something that is very pointed and very provocative.” Israel is a LGBTQ friendly place. And of course, if you compare it to Syria, it is. But we still has a lot to go through. There are a lot of LGBTQ people living in Palestine, in occupied territories. And the Israeli government, all of us deserve to live in freedom. Asis uses the drag stage to put social injustice on notice. I say that a conflict is a gate to come closer and to understand one another and to connect. As I head into Jerusalem, the complexity of this notion is palpable. At the intersection of the world’s major religions, progress is hard won. Here, Al-Aqsa, one of the holiest sites in Islam, sits directly above one of the holiest sites in Judaism— the Western Wall. For many, conflict comes back to one thing: religion. Orthodox Judaism has very binary views on gender. Here at the Western Wall, you can see it. There’s a woman’s side, and there’s a men’s side. Moisha, or Moksha, walks the line. He is gay and dresses in drag, while practicing religion that technically forbids both. I don’t think there is a reconciliation. You sort of stay in that conflict, you just sort of live with it, it’s a constant. There seems like there’s a very big difference between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Right. Tel Aviv you have more of the framework to maybe, dress maybe in more of a gender fluid manner. In Jerusalem, it’s a more conservative city. Do you do drag in Jerusalem? I do drag in Jerusalem, yeah. Moksha performs with the modesty of a conservative Jewish woman at the only gay bar in this ancient city. It’s the same club where German will take the stage for the first time, under the guidance of his new mentor, Nona. I brought all my things to show on Monday. So I wanted to show you and you tell me if
it’s something to add— Show me, show me. Of course. My costume is very black and white. Gender-bender a little bit. Very Grace Jones. Revealing. Yeah, it’s— Revealing. Yeah. Is that her? That’s her. Alright, and how you going to style it? I will see, I don’t know. I don’t want to be too much. More soft. If it’s not too much, no one will remember. That’s the look. Oh my goodness. That’s the wig. It’s great. You can hair flip it, like this. You could even wear–what’re those called, the stockings, but write a word on it or something? I don’t know what word it would be. Peace…in the Middle East. You want to be a drag queen. I don’t know! You want to be a drag queen! Maybe I do want to be a queen. To challenge the idea of what people say you can and can’t be, who you can and can’t love, how you can practice your faith. To put that out there in the world while making way for others to do the same… that is noble work. I don’t know the first thing about voguing. It’s about looking at yourself in the mirror, and loving yourself. But you can just walk in the club with a face— and you vogue. Yes! Yes queen! Where am I going? I’m going this way. If we walk, we walk. If we fall, we fall. Everybody wants peace in the Middle East but no one agrees on how to achieve it. Oh my god! In a place where conflict is the norm, and issues of identity create deep lines in the sand, it almost seems impossible. That’s it. Strike a pose! But here, the drag community has figured it out. People with different ideas not only coexist, they support each other–and they do it in six inch heels. So how do you feel before the show? Oh, just like show girl half of the moment. We’ll see. Remember that everyone wants to be that diva that you are on the stage. So you need to be full of yourself, this is our tip. I’ve come here for today for one reason only— to show off. German, what’s your drag name? Diamond. My drag name is Diamond. I’m going to call you Diamond for the rest of the night, okay? Congratulations honey. Ready? Diamond! Oh! Thank you for watching Style Out There. But it’s not there, it’s here. So thank you for watching Style Here. To subscribe, click here. For more videos, click here. Are you sure it’s here? I don’t see it. Here.