Along with an enthralling persona, Agnes Moore aka ‘Peppermint’ has an energy that fills the room as she enters, settling down in a plush sofa to have a sip of sparkling water at a New Delhi hotel. Oozing glamour, she jokes, “People are going to think I am crazy to be wearing glasses inside a room!”
Life changed when the New York queen on Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race revealed to her fellow contestants and fans that she identified as a trans woman, sparking a dialogue on the nuances of gender on primetime television.
In an interview with indianexpress.com, she talks about what it is to be a drag queen, the drag culture and why she connects to it.
Here’s Agnes Moore aka Peppermint unplugged.
For a ‘queen’, the drag persona can be an important part of one’s identity. Has it helped you come out?
I think drag is important to anyone who dares to do it. Since it deals with gender, social stigma and politics, it has the power to shake things up. Thus, drag is a great tool for anyone who dares to bring a change. For me, I knew I was gender-variant, I knew I was a woman. But, I really didn’t have the tools to express myself and communicate. While some people had a light approach to drag, it was serious for me. I wanted to look perfect and beautiful because it was the only way I could express myself and the woman I was building.
How has mainstream acceptance for drag culture increased over the years?
I was a teenager in the 90s when I first came across RuPaul’s Drag Race. Later, I remember looking through magazines and watching television commercials and seeing drag queens on big billboards. However, it was all a facade. Nobody wanted to know and understand the person behind the entertainer. At present, it is a sign of the times that people are interested in gender-diverse stories. Certainly, with a new wave of feminism, people are being held accountable for their actions. In a zone like this, drag really flourishes; RuPaul’s Drag Race is not just another race, but something powerful. It’s when people say, “Wow, I never understood what drag was and the sacrifices that drag queens have to make.” The curiosity is what makes it interesting, acceptable and accessible to those who perform drag and those who don’t.
How do you transform yourself into Peppermint?
I have used drag as a tool early on to realise my womanhood. Peppermint, the drag entertainer and, in fact, I are all one. The transformation is really about my love of makeup and all things blingy. Also, I don’t plan my performances. I just open up my makeup kit and let the magic weave!
Why the name Peppermint?
Peppermint is my favourite flavour, it is my favourite candy. That’s it!
How is your on-stage persona different from the off-stage persona?
It’s just a heightened version of myself. That’s me at my most excited and feeling happy. What gets me going is the energy from the crowd.
What is the distinction between a trans identity and drag performance for you?
Drag is a career — or art form — that can provide certain people with an insight into who they are and who they can be. It influences people’s lives for the better. For some people, it is just a job they are paid to do. However, importantly, since drag deals with the language of gender, it helps people understand how and why it affects them. Thus, drag is a great tool in walking the path towards finding yourself. I think every human should do drag at least once in their lifetime.