Tel Aviv’s Jewish Drag Scene Is NOT What You Think | Style Out There | Refinery29

Tel Aviv’s Jewish Drag Scene Is NOT What You Think | Style Out There | Refinery29

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.

100 thoughts on “Tel Aviv’s Jewish Drag Scene Is NOT What You Think | Style Out There | Refinery29

  1. The video has few mistakes.
    1. The country of Israel is not defined by religion, it is not ruled or governed by religion although religion effects it.
    2. The western wall is not the holiest site for Jews, the temple location behind that wall is the holy site. Islam took over the site and prevented Jews from praying there. until the 17th century Islamic regime allowed Jews to go up to the 3 stair of the gate 50 meters to the north, then they were pushed south to a narrow ally against the western wall. The ally was expanded into a piazza only on late 1960's.

  2. We Jews are going nowhere from these lands. Deal with it Palestinians. And guess what…Palestinians aren't going anywhere either

  3. Fabulous !!! Just wish everyone could be who ever they want to be without fear , no matter what gender, or sexuality .Love from England x

  4. I'm from Israel and love to the queens!! 🙂 but the political part in this video is wrong and sets the wrong picture and you should fix it asap!
    No one is occupied by Israel and israrl is a free country where all can live how ever they want its a democracy…. Arabs jews Christians and all in between… A lot of people who have Palestinian friends or family escape here because here they can live freely so I don't understand when they attack the country they get the freedom in… Anyways the conflict here is not about religion or land is about one side who wants peace and one side who just wants inailation and its proven every time by their actions… So educate yourself people… Israel is the real place of peace and freedom and its proven by the life that people in Israel no matter their religion.

  5. What a courageous group of beautiful Diva Queen's!!!!
    I pray God peace in the Middle East! "Why can't we all just get along" Rodney King
    After being beaten by the L.A. police.
    I really admire ppl risking all for what God really stands for love, peace, an acceptance of all.
    Idk I just love their Moxie!!!!!

  6. israel has the most mainstream drag scene in the world! they had the first transgender contestant in the eurovision contest. and that was in the 90s! one of their most famous drag queens is the face of a mainstream food brand in israel. the west is just catching up to them! and yes, it's extremely radical because they are surrounded by countries and palestinian territories that murder people for being gay. there have been no UN sanctions against these places for their treatment of lgbtq peoples, however their israeli neighbors are there as a safe haven. there is a reason why tel aviv is consistently voted one of the very top if not the top destinations for gay travellers and that is because it's a city and a nation friendly to lgbtq people.

  7. Where's the fire and brimstone when you need it?

    The crazies won't be helped by the culture war. Waking up is hard to do:

  8. That floral one piece and that retro color block jumpsuit in the beginning were everything that I never knew I needed.

  9. Not progressive enough! Didn't see child drags also don't think they even have granny hours at kindergardens and libraries.

  10. Como dijera Doña Eusebia en la película El Callejón de los Milagros: "eso, aquí y en China se le llama Putería!". Carpe diem

  11. The location of the biblical cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which were burned down, is supposed to be near the Dead Sea in Israel. The ashen remains of what seems to be once big and prosperous cities, can be found in the areas around the Dead Sea. In the Genesis account, God reveals to Abraham that Sodom and Gomorrah are to be destroyed for their grave sins (18:20). Abraham pleads for the lives of any righteous people living there, especially the lives of his nephew, Lot, and his family.

  12. Interesting how there are no drag kings. Only exaggerated mockeries of femininity. I wonder why masculine gay women don't have the same urge. Are men really that boring? Or is it just a double standard?

  13. Really disappointed in Refinery for trying to pass off as journalism with any deep content. Israel, specifically Tel Aviv is an oasis? It's such a tragically false statement it makes me gag. Peace out y'all

  14. Black turtleneck,blue jeans,cardigan,vans(black and white,classic ones),less torturing high ponytail, black sunglasses.

  15. You go girls, show the world your beautiful and that fem is gorgeous as well as powerful weather your gay straight bi queer and or trans, lots of love keep the world unique and beautiful.

  16. Love love love!! 💕💕💕 if only everything could be so simple and people could just except everybody for who they are and what they want to be this world would be a better place🥰

  17. This was an incredible video, but as an Orthodox Jew, I want to address the concern of gender. Judaism is an ancient religion, meaning that the multiplicity of more than two genders is very new to a culture thousands of years old. Our scriptures and laws were written long ago, so wheit comes to embracing new revolutions of sexuality and gender, it is difficult. This does not mean that Jews, observant or not, are not willing to educate ourselves and use our religious knowledge to address modern concerns, but it does take time. I want to let everyone know that we are accepting people, as Jews have been persecuted in the past, and more and more Jews are becoming open to the idea of different sexualities and genders. New ideals will take time to spread, but we do not tolerate hatred in our religion.

  18. Maybe they should stop focusing on gender and sexuality and instead the victims how is killed be their precious country.

  19. Islamic states in Israel? Seriously? It's Palestinie. All of it is Palestine. Expected better from this channel

  20. asis d'orange, I LOVE YOUR HEELS :')

    If we walk, we walk
    If we fall,we fall

    Damn how he says it is like Classy !!!

  21. What Asis did is not okay. I get the pacifist message and the anti-government message, but not only is it disrespecting the country, its disrespecting Jewish people. The majority of Jews all over the world use the flag as a symbol of their beliefs. You aren't just going against the things you dislike, you are angering and disregarding the millions of Jews that use that flag as a symbol of their identity.

  22. I love watching Refinery but with this video you are saying that in Islamic countries drags will be murdered. It is no different in Israel! In Arabic countries they also have these kind of undercover clubs. So stop making Israel look good while they are still murder and torture Palestinians and steal their homes. I will unsubscribe!

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