Terrifying Drag: Conversation with Faluda Islam and LaWhore Vagistan

Presented by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU. Co-sponsored by the NYU Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality.

This conversation brings together two fabulous US-based South Asian drag queens, Faluda Islam and LaWhore Vagistan, to discuss a broad array of topics connected to the aesthetics of their practices. Specifically: pastiche as a mode of re-making the world; death as well as conviviality as strategies in drag; camp theory and a discussion of it more broadly in relation to race and ethnicity; “queer Muslim futures,” the title of one of Faluda Islam’s events; the futurity of drag more generally; national/transnational frames of reference; and online vs. live performances. Curated and moderated by A/P/A Institute at NYU Visiting Scholar Alpesh Kantilal Patel (Florida International University).

This venue has an elevator and is accessible for wheelchair users. Restrooms are single-stall, and all gender. If you need any accommodations, please email [email protected].


LaWhore Vagistan is everyone’s desi drag auntie. She brings the nightclub to the classroom, and vice versa, teaching critical race, postcolonial, and gender theory through lip sync and lecture. She is the alter ego of Tufts University performance studies scholar Kareem Khubchandani. LaWhore has performed in the US at the Austin International Drag Festival, Queens Museum, Jack Theatre, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Austin OUTsider multi-arts festival, and in India at the Kitty-Su nightclub franchise. Her music videos “Sari” and “There’s a Stranger in My House” are available on YouTube.

Faluda Islam is less a drag queen and more a drag comrade, she is more “extra” than terrestrial; and more dead than alive. A warrior drag queen, branded comrade by some and terrorist by others, she was part of a band of bearded Muslim queens who roamed the world striking fear into American and European backed regimes and rebel groups. She was killed in the Great Queer Revolution but has been resurrected through wifi technology and comes back to this earth and time to tell us of the future and what it is we need to brace ourselves for. She has as much contour as conviction, eyeshadow that stands for egalitarianism, and heels to stamp out heteropatriarchy.

Alpesh Kantilal Patel’s art historical scholarship, criticism, and curating reflect his queer, anti-racist, and transnational approach to contemporary art. The author of the monograph Productive failure: writing queer transnational South Asian art histories (Manchester University Press, 2017), he has been a contributor to many anthologies, academic journals, and international art publications such as frieze, Hyperallergic, Art in America, and Artforum. “Terrifying Drag” is research for his next book project tentatively titled “Transregional Entanglements: Sexual Artistic Geographies.” Patel is currently organizing the exhibition Queer Zen which will bring together the modernist artworks of Cy Twombly and Natvar Bhavsar. He is based in Miami at Florida International University, where he is an associate professor of contemporary art and theory.











When: Tue., Oct. 15, 2019 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Where: NYU (Other)
70 Washington Sq. S.
212-998-1212
Price: Free
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Presented by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU. Co-sponsored by the NYU Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality.

This conversation brings together two fabulous US-based South Asian drag queens, Faluda Islam and LaWhore Vagistan, to discuss a broad array of topics connected to the aesthetics of their practices. Specifically: pastiche as a mode of re-making the world; death as well as conviviality as strategies in drag; camp theory and a discussion of it more broadly in relation to race and ethnicity; “queer Muslim futures,” the title of one of Faluda Islam’s events; the futurity of drag more generally; national/transnational frames of reference; and online vs. live performances. Curated and moderated by A/P/A Institute at NYU Visiting Scholar Alpesh Kantilal Patel (Florida International University).

This venue has an elevator and is accessible for wheelchair users. Restrooms are single-stall, and all gender. If you need any accommodations, please email [email protected].


LaWhore Vagistan is everyone’s desi drag auntie. She brings the nightclub to the classroom, and vice versa, teaching critical race, postcolonial, and gender theory through lip sync and lecture. She is the alter ego of Tufts University performance studies scholar Kareem Khubchandani. LaWhore has performed in the US at the Austin International Drag Festival, Queens Museum, Jack Theatre, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Austin OUTsider multi-arts festival, and in India at the Kitty-Su nightclub franchise. Her music videos “Sari” and “There’s a Stranger in My House” are available on YouTube.

Faluda Islam is less a drag queen and more a drag comrade, she is more “extra” than terrestrial; and more dead than alive. A warrior drag queen, branded comrade by some and terrorist by others, she was part of a band of bearded Muslim queens who roamed the world striking fear into American and European backed regimes and rebel groups. She was killed in the Great Queer Revolution but has been resurrected through wifi technology and comes back to this earth and time to tell us of the future and what it is we need to brace ourselves for. She has as much contour as conviction, eyeshadow that stands for egalitarianism, and heels to stamp out heteropatriarchy.

Alpesh Kantilal Patel’s art historical scholarship, criticism, and curating reflect his queer, anti-racist, and transnational approach to contemporary art. The author of the monograph Productive failure: writing queer transnational South Asian art histories (Manchester University Press, 2017), he has been a contributor to many anthologies, academic journals, and international art publications such as frieze, Hyperallergic, Art in America, and Artforum. “Terrifying Drag” is research for his next book project tentatively titled “Transregional Entanglements: Sexual Artistic Geographies.” Patel is currently organizing the exhibition Queer Zen which will bring together the modernist artworks of Cy Twombly and Natvar Bhavsar. He is based in Miami at Florida International University, where he is an associate professor of contemporary art and theory.

Buy tickets/get more info now