Diversity in body type, race and nationality

One of the performers of burlesque troupe Skin In SIN is Datin Coconut Muffins (above), who pokes fun at the "brown on the outside, white inside" stereotype.
One of the performers of burlesque troupe Skin In SIN is Datin Coconut Muffins (above), who pokes fun at the "brown on the outside, white inside" stereotype.PHOTO: AUDI KHALID

How do we make room for one another in an ever-crowded Singapore? New burlesque troupe Skin In SIN plans to take off some clothes to make people laugh and think - even if it might tread on a few toes.

Foreign Bodies runs at the Esplanade Recital Studio from Jan 5 to 7. It features 10 performers chosen from a casting call earlier this year. Some are amateurs, others are professional artists exploring a new form of expression.

All have gone through 40 hours of workshops learning to shimmy and sashay properly. They are mentored by Eugene Tan, a Singaporean drag performer whose alter ego is Becca D'Bus, and American performance artist Madge Of Honor.

Tan, 38, who performed in last year's Singapore Night Festival, says Skin In SIN is about diversity on stage in terms of body type, race and nationality. It is about getting along with "the other" in a world where people are becoming increasingly xenophobic.

Members of the troupe come from the Philippines, the United States, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Britain and Ireland.

  • BOOK IT / FOREIGN BODIES

  • WHERE: Esplanade Recital Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Jan 5 to 7, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $25 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to sistic.com.sg) or $500 for the VIP experience from www.skininsin.com/vip- experience. The $500 tickets include a pair of front-row seats and a burlesque class for two (with welcome drink and tasselled pasties) conducted by Madge Of Honor

    INFO: Rating to be advised

Some performers have chosen stage names reflecting their multi-faceted identities.

Datin Coconut Muffins pokes fun at the "brown on the outside, white inside" stereotype. Another performer is Aloysius D, in homage to the well-educated nephew of television icon Phua Chu Kang, who is embarrassed by his Singlish- spouting uncle.

So many signed up to be part of the production that the producer needs to raise more funds for costumes and other necessities.

Skin In SIN is selling VIP tickets at $500 a pair that include front-row seats and a burlesque workshop for two.

All performers whom The Straits Times spoke to refused to give their real names or ages. Some have yet to tell their families about their participation.

Others have been spooked by online vitriol against the fringe festival. Last month, a Facebook group named Singaporeans Defending Marriage And Family accused festival organisers of presenting pornography as art.

Tan hopes viewers will give the show a shot and see it is not only about striptease. "People shouldn't be afraid of this show," he says.

He brings up Olympian medallist Joseph Schooling's swimsuit for comparison. "Everybody in this show is wearing more than Joseph Schooling and he was shown on national television."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2016, with the headline 'Diversity in body type, race and nationality'. Print Edition | Subscribe