He’s been “in and out” of the cabaret dance circuit for more than ten years now. Five years ago, he got really serious about the Cabaret business: he opened a Cabaret Club, ‘Spartacus’ on South Bridge Road, but the business went belly-up after a few years.
“No matter how good your are, people get tired of the same show and the same face, they will watch a show once or twice at the most and after that they won’t watch it again.” he shares. Now he’s found an alternative way: he currently runs a male spa ‘Raw’, located at 45 Ann Siang Road, and does cabaret entertainment on the side with a group of other cross-dressing male dancers, most of them Malay.
Maxxy identifies as a drag-queen entertainer. ‘There is a difference between being a drag-queen and a drag queen entertainer’ he maintains, waving his hands to emphasise his point “My entourage and I cross-dress and go to different clubs in Singapore to entertain. We cross-dress for a purpose… Drag-queens cross-dress daily… people will look at them in a certain way. I dress quite normally, so you won’t be able to tell that I am gay, except for perhaps for some tell-tale signs, like my long hair and some of my gestures” he says, smiling.
He became public about his gay identity after his stint of National Service in the Army. His family was disappointed initially when he told them, but they have since come to accept his gay identity. On a personal level, he was able to embrace his identity without too much of a struggle when he finally came out of the closet “it just depends if you can accept yourself as gay…
If you think you’re not a gay and you’re fighting against yourself, that would be difficult – I have had gay tendencies since I was in Primary school, it took a while for me to accept that part of myself”
He shares with me that although his family knows he is gay, they are completely in the dark about his cabaret business, thinking that he makes his livelihood solely on his spa. “the entertainment business is like another part of my life” he admits.
He will let his family in on that part of his life though when he’s really “up there” – “Up there,” by his definition, means taking his gig to Las Vegas and New York to perform for a long stretch.
For a man who has had to deal with a lot of sticky situations and personal setbacks in establishing himself in the Singapore entertainment scene, including cat-calls and bitchiness in live talk shows, business failures, rejection from straight night clubs and other such similar affronts, he is an oasis of calm.
His gazes into space, recollecting a distant memory, “sometimes, at live talk shows, people shout out rude things , it’s quite hurtful… but I laugh and turn it into a joke, just play along … you know, there’s no point getting angry'”
Maxxy at the Gashaus
His philosophy in life is “not to do bad things, not to hurt people,”
How about if other people hurt him? I quiz.
“Well, I just accept it, because it’s a part of life”, he say with a small shrug. ” If there are headaches, just throw away the headaches, that way, you can be a happy person… it’s like that, if I have a fridge that keeps on breaking-down and does not work, I won’t bother to fix it, I’ll just go buy another fridge, it’s the same thing with friends, if there is someone in your life who keeps on bugging me, I just stop associating with them.
Sometimes they may even be long-time friends… but there’s no point to keep it up… there are so many other friends you can have.”
His thoughts on the gay scene revolve around the economic aspects. “The gay scene is too local, drag-queen entertainers won’t come to Singapore, the restrictions here are still too tight and many overseas entertainers won’t feel secure coming here to perform.
Things won’t change until the government becomes more open, but people are getting to be more receptive, we get calls to perform at hen-parties… I guess I’m lucky, I’ve got my spa as my bread and butter, but it’s hard for some others in the business, for easy money, some of them turn to prostitution… so for my dancers I pay them on time and well”
In regards to the multitude of Malay dancers in the drag scene, he is quite mystified himself. ” I don’t know why… ” he says, pondering, “There are just so many of them that turn up at the Singapore drag-queen idol contest that I organise every year… “
Apparently, in conjunction but parallel to the yearly Singapore Idol that is aired on national television and widely publicised on the Straits Times, the much lesser known and publicised Singapore drag Queen Idol takes place every year in his night club and is immensely popular with Malay boys, who are talent spotted in the contest and consequently recruited into his dance entourage.
I get a brief insight to Maxxy’s love-life when Maxxy’s boyfriend, a good-looking Indian guy, twenty years younger than him, shows up and Maxxy announces, “this is my boyfriend!”. He then quips jokingly, ” you can take a photo for the magazine!” The young man is shy however and rapidly disappears after saying “Hi.”
“He’s young,” I comment as he walks away.
“Well, age is not an issue for me, what’s more important is that you can understand and care for each other,” Maxxy intones.
As for future plans, he is currently in the process of working out a possible big-break in America, “in about two months time, I may be able to fulfil my dream of performing in Las Vegas and New York, we’re in the midst of working out a deal now. And… further down the road? Who knows, we might even be able to perform in UAE (United Arab Emirates)” he say with a twinkle in his eyes. “That, would be for me, the mark of success.”