Brussels, 27 September 2023
The day of the show starts early. I pack three bags: an IKEA bag, a makeup bag and a huge suitcase, where I put my wigs, my dresses, my makeup, my props. I shave all the parts I don’t want to have hair on. I get into the taxi, I get to the venue.
And that’s where the magic starts: when I start doing my makeup. I like to take 3 hours if I have time. You start with erasing your face to build a new one. You prepare your canvas. So I block my brows. I’ve shaven. I put a hell of a lot of colour blocking on my beard, so my beard doesn’t show. Then I do my foundation, and basically, at that part, I’m 2D. I look like an egg. There are no dimensions to my face anymore. I remove Sergejs.
And then I started carving my face with contour. I carve my cheeks, I carve my smaller forehead. I put my brows in a completely different place than they are normally. Now I have a structure. I have a skeleton of what it will be. And then come the eyes. I have huge eyes, but I exaggerate them even further because drag is also about more, bigger, exaggeration. I always do my lips last.
Before my lips are in place, I don’t feel it. But as soon as I draw my lips, which are way further exaggerated than the normal line of my lips, I look at myself and I see, okay, Belligerency is here. Then I put a wig on and that’s when I feel the full fantasy. I’m now Belligerency.
I get into my costume and in a few minutes, I will be on stage in Brussels, kicking off the next Propaganda.
Propaganda is the show that we created last year because we saw that people of specific marginalised groups are not represented in an entertainment culture scene that much. We wanted to bring awareness about what is going on elsewhere, a little bit away from Western Europe. The idea is to mix entertainment and ShowMaking with politics, because drag is not just about sparkle and sequins, it can educate you about something.
I am half-Armenian. Since I got into drag, I received a lot of death threats and a lot of other horrible things. Back there for many people, you can’t be Armenian if you’re queer and you can’t be queer if you’re Armenian.
But it’s an important part of me, and I will bring it on stage. And, when it comes to politics, the Armenian genocide and the war in Artsakh (Artsakh is the name given by the Armenians to Nagorno Karabagh, ed.), I will talk about it, because nobody talks about it. And I feel like people in Artsakh are voiceless. They are not noticed. They’re kind of like a nuisance, and we need to talk about it.
At the end of the performance, I incorporated all the ugly things that people and my family told me. Somebody texted me, like, I will rape you until you’re not a matter anymore. Another message said: you are a shame to our family.
Performing it in front of an audience also helps me to kind of disconnect from this. I leave that negative energy that is directed to me constantly as a queer Armenian person, on stage and share it with somebody else.
That’s the power of drag. It liberates you. You feel so free. You feel so powerful. It’s like armor. It’s like a weapon, like a secret weapon that you have. You are invincible in drag.
Belligerency is the stage name of Sergejs, an artist and co-founder of the drag & queer show Propaganda in Brussels. Belligerency is Latvian and Armenian, and with his co-founders Krasna and King Kovaci they seek to spotlight marginalised and erased queerness and give voice to the LGBTQIA+ community in Eastern & Southern Europe and West Asia. Their past shows included performances on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Armenian genocide, political repressions in the Soviet Union and revolutions.