How Becca D'Bus gets ready for Pink Dot 2018

Think pink

Text: Renée Batchelor

We all know Becca D'Bus brings the party where she goes. And that she has a signature makeup look. Watch the fascinating process as Becca's alter ego Eugene Tan creates the look from scratch

We'll hold off on the puns about Becca D'Bus being larger than life and causing a riot, because no doubt you've heard all those before. What fascinates us more is going under the makeup of one of Singapore's most prolific drag queens and finding out what goes into the creation of the character — and when exactly the transformation from Eugene Tan to Becca is complete. When we first contacted Tan, he told us that he usually takes at least two hours to get ready, and that no two looks are ever exactly the same. We asked him to create a look for Pink Dot 2018 on camera for us. And seeing the intricacy of the look — which starts with Tan shaving his head so that he can 'push back' his hairline — we understand the full commitment and time it takes to create Becca. 

He comes for our shoot fully prepared with an arsenal of makeup tools and products — many of them professional stage makeup, although he will just as happily use talcum powder and Chamelon lashes. Becca D'Bus' outfit this year is a sheer pailette-embellished pink trenchcoat created by Singapore designer Max Tan, topped off with a floral headpiece which (Eugene) Tan made himself  — he makes most of his own stuff. The entire process is truly fascinating to witness. Watch the full video above to see his routine, and find out more about his process below. 

How do you remove all that makeup at the end of each performance? And how do you take care of our skin?
I make my own makeup wipes, with multi-purpose kitchen cloths. I have two sets: One soaked in coconut oil and the other in micellar water. If I have the luxury of taking a shower I wash it off with dish detergent! It's weirdly gentler than you would expect as it dissolves the makeup very fast, so you don't have to rub your skin, and it is less irritated. But you have to moisturise properly afterwards. I use Olay to moisturise my skin and for the dish detergent, I use the brand Dawn, it's an American drag queen thing. 

My skincare is not complicated. I wash my face and then I moisturise. 

You told us before that you never create the same look twice. How then do you get your inspiration for each new look?
I don't think I'm disciplined enough to paint the same thing over and over again. There was a time when my face was very paint-by-numbers, so it was always the same shapes, just different colours. But then I got bored and started playing a bit more. I thought it would be interesting to see how far I could push my face unless I wasn't Becca D'Bus anymore. Because you tend to think of drag queens as having a look. It's part of your brand, if you will. I worked with a milliner named Dinu Bodiciu and he had wanted me to do very different faces from what I usually do. I started thinking about how elastic Becca D'Bus was. It turns out I can do different things and people still recognise me.

When is the moment when the transformation is complete?
When I'm late for the gig! There is an amount of makeup I would feel uncomfortable wearing, like if I'm not wearing enough contour... I'm not interested in wearing makeup that doesn't look like makeup. At the end of the day I have a vaguely, male face and my features are softer and rounder, so I do need quite a bit of makeup — not to look like a woman, but to be 'right'.

When I started I used to draw just two half moons of glitter on my eyes and I thought I was really fierce, but looking back it was kind of rough. I also knew that I wanted my makeup to be very 'big' and I wanted eyebrows that went really high. For me it's more interesting when it beggars belief, I find that space very interesting. I tend not to wear wigs if I can help it. I like this idea that I don't look like a woman. I like that drag is a space to be more than human in a way. Nobody believes that I'm a woman, and I don't intend for them to. And that means I have carte blanche to go a lot further. And also you command a lot more attention if you're odd. 

You use a combination of professional stage makeup, normal makeup and even household products. How do you choose the products and makeup you use? 
I use what works. I need a very heavy foundation because I'm sweaty, and I'm not trying to achieve 'naked' skin. Foundations that are made for stage and screen tend to be full coverage and they tend to be designed for you to be quite active. When I lived in the States I used Dermablend — it's a wonderful skin cover product. For me that's the gold standard of foundation — you can march through two hours of a Pride Parade, shower and still go for a show after. 

Catch Becca D'Bus in Riot! Hosted by Becca D'Bus, a no holds barred drag revue every second Saturday of the month. Find out more about the show on its website and grab tickets for the next performance here.
You can also catch Becca at The Glory Hoes present at The Projector. The next installment, on 27 July, features Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge.

Beauty editor: Renée Batchelor
Director: Vanessa Caitlin
Videographer and editor: David Bay
Additional footage: Sebastian Tan
Location: Mona Lounge
Clothes: Max Tan
Special thanks to Sam Wong and Rachel Arnold