September 16, 2020
Drag, bold, colorful, raunchy, and extremely fun to witness. But how many of us have actually attended a drag performance? What happens inside the drag world? I don’t know either. That is why I asked Betta Naan Stop aka Prateek Sachdeva, everything about his journey of dancing and drag!
Prateek has a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management. He aspired to become a chef. But when he enrolled in a dance class, his passion for performing arts came alive. That’s how his journey to drag, began.
But how really did the switch happen?
The transition from dancing to drag.
Being a male dancer and working as a freelancer I realised no matter what audition I go to I would not be selected, I would dance circles around the others and still find myself in the alley with the rejects. I knew what they were hiring; muscular, gym tones guys with abs and manly looks.
That is when Drag entered my life along with my sister who was bored one day and decided to do my makeup.
I decided to use this as an advantage and get that on stage. It was nerve-wracking but it was fun. I was on the stage, in the spotlight and I saw the smiles in the audience and I knew it.
This is it.. this is me.
And then was born, Betta Naan Stop!
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My first performance was at Kitty Su, Delhi which is in Lalit, New Delhi. After finally realizing that drag is what I want to do, Mr. Keshav Suri recognized my talent and gave me the opportunity to perform at his club! He is the one who brought the first international Drag show to India. He is also the one who mainstreamed the Indian Drag scene.
But why Betta Naan Stop? I mean, it’s a good pun, but what’s the story behind that?
Prateek replies, “I wish I had a very funny or interesting story to how I came to this name, Betta Naan Stop!. I was literally eating Butter Naan and Chicken and I knew I needed food in my name.. just turned Butter into Betta.”
I am going to remember this every time I eat Butter Naan and Chicken. We find inspiration everywhere, right? And who doesn’t love Butter Naan and Chicken? It’s the perfect name!
So apart from being a delicious name, what else about Betta Naan Stop do you love, what’s so unique about her?
“My favorite quality about her is everything about her, the face, the body, the legs, the shoes, the hair, the lashes, the clothes”, he laughs. Betta’s uniqueness is that she does traditional fishy drag but still gets a modern twist to it.”
Let’s get down to performance
Once you’ve got a name, and a character, it’s time for you to enter the stage. So, Betta, how was your first-ever performance?
“My 1st performance was a roller coaster, I was in such a rush! Thank God, I had my friend with me who helped me pack, and calmed me down when I was panicking” she said. She quickly added that “it was amazing, the moment I entered and I heard the screams from my friends in the audience all the anxiety just flew away. It was the most empowering thing. Absolutely amazing.”
First times can be scary for everyone, no matter what the task. But remember to surround yourself with good people, and good vibes, so your successes are sweeter and your failures don’t hurt as much. Shoutout to Betta’s friend for this kind gesture.
Drag involves a lot of performance and flexibility of the body. It is not easy to perform and be entertaining without losing your breath or being unoffended. Drag queens sing, dance, enact, lip-synch and do so much more.
In Betta’s case, dancing takes a prominent role, especially since Prateek is a trained dancer. As a trained dancer,
Is there a form of dancing that he would consider crucial to be a better performer?
There no dance form or move that is the backbone to any drag performance. That’s the beauty of Drag, you can be a dancer, singer, actor, comedian, etc either one or all. But being a trained dancer is not necessary. However, in my Drag, I use my dance training to my advantage. Every part of the body is used and my signature move is the jump split.
He explains that the major difference between dancing in general and dancing in drag is just one thing. The freedom to do whatever the queens want to as long as it entertains people. Unless it’s a particular show and is choreographed. There is always space to celebrate our true selves. And be who we want to be.
“It’s not easy, even though we make it look easy. And it’s definitely not for everyone. Some people will like it, others won’t. So be prepared to see someone making a face to you while you’re up on stage.
You are celebrating womanhood, you are celebrating everything that people use to put you down. Make that your heels and stand tall. Don’t forget they are your strengths and not your weaknesses. Just prance in those heels and make them eat it.”
Creativity and art help can free you.
People can use literally anything to drag you down, but remember, it takes the artist in you to undo that pretzel. There is an artist in everyone, in some percentage, and to let your artistry show will liberate you. Drag is a performing art. And like any other form of performance art, there is competition within the realm of drag as well. But is there pressure?
Betta says, “There is a lot of pressure. By this point in time, people are aware, about drag and who we are, well mostly. They have seen us in clubs. There is always a challenge to up your game with every performance. There is competition in terms of the number of Drag queens. But still, to this point, we all bring something different to the stage, so you can’t really compare. It’s great to see the drag scene in India evolving like this.”
“In India, the Best Drag Performance I saw was in Goa at Mr. Keshav Suri’s wedding, Violet Chachki was performing and we had the chance to see her twice. Mr. Keshav Suri has made my dreams come true.”
So, Betta, what’s betta? A solo or a group?
I love Solo’s because you have the freedom to screw up, I mean there is no one else on the stage and if you slip and fall, make it part of the choreography, the audience doesn’t know if it was planned or not, she laughs. But I do love group numbers too. It highlights the togetherness and how different queens with different aesthetics all together can do a performance on the same song.
But how do you know that’s ‘the’ song? Is there a determinant to how you pick songs?
I obviously go to my phone and scroll through the songs that I listen to or have imagined myself performing in and see if it fits the theme of the night. These days I’m also pre-preparing with the costumes, so I talk to the outfit and ask what does she feels like… and who does she wants to be. And if she says Beyonce, then Betta is Beyonce.
Do you think movements like Fifty shades of Gay important?
Movements like FSOG, are amazing, I feel that anyone who is sharing our stories, Drag Queens, Trans men and women, queer folks, lesbians, gays, etc., are doing an amazing job. In a country like India where awareness about all of these is necessary. FSOG does not just have a kick-ass name, it is also one of those platforms who celebrate Queerness and has a reach throughout India. I have huge respect and loads of love for them ♥
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Throwback to when my nephew was me in Drag and he tried to snatch my wig 😂 ✨✨✨✨✨ #dragislove #dragislife #dragfamily #sisters #proud #happy #family #dragqueen #familydragstogether #yaas #love #nephew #curlyhair #curls #blonde #doll #barbiedoll #gay #pride #gayyouth #gayindia #gaydelhi #rupaulsdragrace #rupaulbots #instadrag #instadragqueen #dragsqueensofinstagram #dragracethailand
We love you too Betta! <3