Mascara, lip-gloss and accessories are scattered over a table. Alex Tabisher looks at himself in the mirror. He reaches for foundation and dabs it on his face. Next he applies eyeliner without blinking or opening his mouth. Finally scarlet lipstick, matching the dress he wears. The more make-up he applies, the less he becomes Alex, the more he finds a true sense of self.
Vida Fantabisher is one of the most recognisable names on the Cape Town drag scene. Tabisher’s alter ego is a larger than life character who has been dazzling the audiences of Bubbles Bar since 2012. But she has been a part of Tabisher’s life for much longer. Ever since he was a young boy playing with the contents of his mother’s closet. Today, Vida struts her stuff in six-inch heels. She is an old-fashioned Hollywood diva who loves elegant gowns and jewellery. Beneath the glamour is a character who is candid and fierce.
When Vida takes the stage, she joins a movement rooted in the struggle for identity. Drag is a way to show that the restrictions society places around gender aren’t binding. If the clothes we wear define who we are, then a man dressing as a woman is cause for celebration rather than castigation. Vida is Tabisher’s way of expressing his authentic self. He has found happiness. And it comes when the world sees him as Vida.