Extravaganza: Matthew Baren Talks His Drag Scene Doc

Extravaganza takes a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for a big, one-off drag show—from which the film gets its title—that took place at Shanghai’s Pearl theater in July 2017. We talk with filmmaker and CINEMQ co-founder Matthew Baren about supporting the LGBTQ community, inspiring others, and shining a positive light on the Shanghai drag scene in his upcoming documentary.


EastIndie: Your upcoming documentary Extravaganza is produced by CINEMQ and takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Shanghai drag scene. For people who are unfamiliar with the scene here, can you give us a bit of an introduction?

Matthew Baren: I’m not a drag performer, but I’ve been involved in the LGBTQ culture scene in Shanghai for a couple of years now and so I’ve been on the fringes of the drag scene. There’s a fantastic spirit of community and family among the queens and kings here. They’re from around China, Asia, and all over the world.

EI: Is there anything you think makes the drag scene in Shanghai unique or special?

MB: I think, as with any drag scene around the world, it’s the individual performers who make something unique. Creativity, uniqueness, nerve, and talent go a long way. Drag is a lot of fun but it’s also an inherently political art form. Drag performers have been a significant driving force for the global LGBTQ movement—although this sometimes gets forgotten. In China, they’re perhaps one of the most visible local aspects of the queer community, and I think a positive beacon for anyone who doesn’t quite fit in the box society tells them they belong in…

Read the whole interview on Eastern Independent here.