RuPaul's Drag Race helped her escape depression
Former victim of bullying says TV show helped her gain self-confidence
For 10 years of her life, she was always being bullied.
"Ugly", "weirdo" and "stupid" were just some of the insults thrown at her every day, leaving her in a state of depression.
But one US reality TV show turned things around for Miss Dildeep Kaur.
The 19-year-old costume designer told The New Paper: "I grew up always feeling very insecure because of the bullying I dealt with in primary and secondary school because of my looks.
"I used to be fat and hairy and not exactly very pretty back then. I guess I was also a weird kid because I didn't like what everyone else did. I was into dark stuff and ghosts and everyone was creeped out by me so they would make fun of me."
She added: "It got to a point that if I started getting close to someone... people would start spreading rumours about me. I lost a lot of friends because of this."
Alone and constantly beating herself down, she fell into depression.
However, in 2013, she came across RuPaul's Drag Race while surfing the Internet.
"I didn't just start watching the show, I went beyond that and spent hours watching their performances on YouTube.
"Watching these drag queens gave me a lot of confidence to be very experimental with my appearance and to just not care about what people say about me," she said.
The show has spawned eight seasons since 2009.
MEETING THE QUEENS
It documents 55-year-old US drag queen RuPaul's search for "America's next drag superstar" via weekly challenges that test contestants' skills in fashion design, musical performance, comedy and runway walking
The queens were in town last night for the R18 drag revue RuPaul's Drag Race Battle Of The Seasons 2016 Extravaganza Tour, which is into its third year.
It had a line-up of past winners, finalists and favourites from the show, including Manila Luzon, Detox, Ginger Minj, Ivy Winters, Violet Chachki and Phi Phi O'Hara.
HOLDING COURT: (Above, from left to right) Drag queens Violet Chachki, Ivy Winters (front, long green dress), Detox (back, in red), Ginger Minj, Phi Phi O'Hara and Manila Luzon met dozens of fans in Singapore, which Winters said was 'the best and most fun' stop of their tour. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
Fan favourites Pandora Boxx and Alaska were unable to make the show.
Miss Dildeep had the chance of the lifetime to meet her favourite queens all in one room in a special meet and greet session held for VIP ticket holders before the show.
Ms Dildeep, whose parents bought the $348 VIP ticket for her as a graduation gift, said: "Watching the TV show helped with my depression because they were very funny and entertaining, so that lifted my spirits.
HOLDING COURT: Drag queen Ginger Minj (in black) during her first performance where she lip synced to Adele's Hello. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
"I saw how these drag queens lived such terrible lives through the stories and experiences they shared on the show.
"A lot of the queens talked about how drag was an outlet for them and gave them the confidence to persevere through family problems or grieving.
Queen Manila Luzon during her first performance. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
"The whole drag community is very accepting and I feel accepted and included among these people because they understand what it is like to struggle with self-esteem issues. They also constantly encourage and never bring you down."
Miss Dildeep, who graduated from Temasek Polytechnic's fashion design course, now attends local drag showcases.
"It's just such a nice place to be myself. Instead of getting bad comments about wearing black lipstick, the people at these shows come up to me and tell me they love it and I look great," she said.
"I look up to them a lot because they are looked down upon because they are basically grown men dressing up as women to earn a living.
"However, seeing them press on to do what they love despite all the hurdles - it's inspiring."
Last year, she met her favourite queen, Katya, whose real name is Brian McCook, 34, from Season 7, when she came to Singapore for a solo show.
Miss Dildeep said: "I kept thinking of an entire speech to make to her, but when I finally met her, I just told her that the show changed my life a lot because I was going through very bad times. She caressed me, stroked my hair and told me to continue being myself and never to lose hope."
While Miss Dildeep did not enjoy quite a similar special moment at yesterday evening's meet and greet, it was still an unforgettable experience.
Another fan at the meet and greet was Miss Chuah Ting Ying, who credits the show with helping her with self expression.
"I was once in that position myself (of not fitting in) because I was never particularly girly or into sports like my peers were," said the 19-year-old student.
"Seeing how these people don't care about what others think and just did what they loved has been so eye-opening for me."
The 60 or so fans at the session had a ball of a time snapping selfies with the queens, and the queens were equally happy to be in Singapore.
SHOWTIME: Fellow queen Ivy Winters during her first performance in Singapore. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
Ivy Winters from Season 5, whose real name is Dustin Winters, said: "Singapore has been great. I love the weather. This humidity is amazing. The place and the people are just absolutely beautiful.
"When we were in Japan we got mobbed at the airport and now, so many people have come out to see us here. I didn't expect popularity of the show to cross to Asia, but it has and I couldn't be more grateful.
"The energy of this meet and greet has been one of the best and most fun among all our tour stops."
The whole drag community is very accepting and... they understand what it is like to struggle with self-esteem issues.
- Costume designer Dildeep Kaur
Queens' battle: Top 4 moments
There wasn't a moment of silence once the two-hour show kicked off.
Cheers, laughs and "YAAAS queen" screams filled the air as the feisty and fierce drag queens gave the audience a night to remember.
It was a show of lip-synching, real singing, jokes and challenges.
While Pearl started the show off with a DJ set, each queen sang for their lives twice, with two segments in between involving lucky audience members chosen from a raffle of VIP ticket holders.
Here are the top four moments from last night's show.
1. HEIGHT ISSUES
After an opening dance number where all the queens took the stage, Ginger Minj from season 7 and the third season's runner-up Manila Luzon took the stage to get audience members warmed up for what was to come.
Ginger made fun of her height, saying she was the same height as the "national height here".
Standing at 5 foot 3 inches (157.5cm), she joked that she was "Quasimodo Hunchback of Notre-Dame".
She then told the audience that she was with the other queens in Bugis when she stopped to buy a satchel and got left behind by the others.
Manila said: "Girl, we lost you in the crowd among your people."
2. GINGER'S FIRST LIP-SYNC - ADELE'S HELLO
For her first performance, Ginger Minj came out dressed in a sensible black dress and sported an auburn beehive hairstyle.
If your eyesight isn't at its best, you would have thought Adele was standing in front of you.
Minj, 31, with her stout frame, looked exactly the part as she lip-synched to the UK singer's hit Hello.
The performance started off slow and sombre, as the song goes.
But come on, we were at a drag show. There was more to come.
Before each chorus, Minj's mobile phone would ring and she would perform a snippet of other famous songs, which included US singer Lionel Richie's Hello and Drake's Hotline Bling, before going back to the sombre mood.
The phone rang for the third time and Minj ripped off her dress, revealing a sparkly bodysuit underneath. Complete with high kicks, she turned the mood up by dancing to an electronic version of the song (Hello by Adele).
To top it all off, she then ended her performance by rolling down a short flight of stairs on the stage.
Her performance garnered the loudest cheers of the night.
3. 'TRASH TO FASHION' SEGMENT
During this segment, which Minj said "had never been done on other live shows before", three lucky members of the audience were called onto the stage.
Three of the queens were paired with each audience member and had to make the best outfit for them using a black trash bag.
While Detox cheated and stripped out of her own outfit and wig to dress her 'model', Winters and O'Hara did their best to glam up their partners with just trash bags.
But the loudest cheers went to Detox, who ended up tying a trash bag around herself because her partner had her original outfit on.
And Isaiah, well, Minj told him to "get cho ass out of here, Margaret Cho".
4. QUEEN ON STILTS
"This song is for anyone of you who is going through some s*** in your life," Winters said before she broke out into her original dark number Overcame.
She stood tall as she loomed over the audience in a black number.
She was on stilts.
As Winters belted out the song, she looked composed and calm and did not quiver even once.
At one point, she even switched out of her black outfit into a white number.