Creature Feature: Babia Majora
Like, it’s just such a joy to write this section. There are so so so many interesting movers and shakers in our city. And this time we have the amazing please of interviewing Babia Majora! A Toronto born performer with a refreshing take on the art of drag. They are just coming off the high of their house (Rebel Gen) winning this years Absolute Empires Ball and has been gracing stage throughout the city since. Bright colours, great concepts and punk mentality, Babia is a heavy hitter that shan’t be missed.
Tell us how you got started performing?
I started performing in the Toronto burlesque scene. I’ve always had very bad social anxiety. I even used to get excused from making presentations in front of my classes in school. I wanted to try performing to challenge myself, and as a way to overcome a lot of anxiety. Just like that I was hooked and found an outlet to play out all the wildly different sides of myself that I never had an opportunity to express.
Where do you find inspiration for your looks/ performance?
When I first started doing drag my biggest inspiration was K Pop boy band fashion. I love the mixture of colours, textures, and combination of femininity and masculinity that isn’t the minimalist androgynous fashion that you often see. From the gothy, often biker aesthetic of Beast, to the unignorable boldness of BTS. I also wear a lot of hand me downs from my family, such as Chinese silks; both to reference my heritage, and because they’re already shiny and stage ready.
When you're conceptualizing a number what usually starts the process? Do visuals inspire you or is it when you hear a song?
Each number starts out differently. I have some acts that come from a political or storytelling place, and those are always the hardest. You have to bring this large concept to life in just a couple of minutes. Although sometimes I just have really dumb ideas, and one day I might just wake up and want to be a giant mushroom.
Where did Babia come from? What sparked the curation of this persona?
I think Babia is just who I always wished I could be. They’re confident, adventurous, and stay out past Caitlin’s bedtime.
To get people to pronounce Babia Majora correctly I always say Babia like labia, but my name didn’t actually come from labia majora. Cassandra from Wayne’s World was the first time I saw an Asian woman shown on screen as a strong, smart, independent character, because “in Latin she would be Babia Majora”.-Wayne
What is the number you're the proudest of thus far in your career?
My Mulan act is my favourite act. It’s about my journey as an Asian trans non binary person, and let’s me exist in all my forms. I embrace femininity and masculinity on my own terms, and I get to wear some beautiful pieces from my grandmother that have been tailored by burlesque’s Brook Alviano and drag’s Lucinda Mui. I don’t think I’ve ever performed the piece in its entirety on a drag stage, but I’m excited to headline my first burlesque festival with that act this year.
What do you want people to take from your performances?
My baby is Fuck Shit Up: a monthly show with all trans, non binary, gender non conforming, and 2 spirit performers. My co-producer Fluffy Souffle and I want people to come to Fuck Shit Up and see the wealth of local talent our community has, and that performers who identify within the trans umbrella shouldn’t just be a check on a diversity list, but deserve to be features and headliners. We’ve so far managed to cast 11 shows where we prioritize BIPOC performers, and I still have a list of people I want to give space to.
What can people expect when they see a Babia show?
More than anything I think people can see some genderfuckery at a Babia show!
What's the scariest thing about performing?
The scariest thing about performing is my imposter syndrome. I know that I’m not the best performer; I don’t have any dance, theatre, or musical training, and I can’t even sew. I’m constantly worried that I’m just not good enough to be on stage, or that I don’t have a right to take up as much space as I do.
What's the one thing you can't be without while getting ready to perform?
My dog! He’s a great audience while I practice.