Spoiler Alert: This article will discuss the plot of the short film Peach Paradise – a re-imagination of Asian drag.

Peach Paradise is a short documentary film directed by Shiva Raichandani that was released in 2022. It features trans non-binary writer and director Shane (Shayshay) Konno in one of the leading roles.

Shiva Raichandani is a South Asian non-binary artist, writer, director and producer. They explore issues of race and gender through their work, challenging cis-heteronormativity within Bollywood films. They strive towards creating inclusive spaces for ‘positive gender-diverse representation’ in the media.

Peach Paradise

Peach Paradise follows a non-binary drag performer who enters the UK’s cabaret scene. They seek to dismantle racial stereotypes targeted towards Asian people through their gender-bending artistry. Raichandani directed the short film in a documentary-style manner. It consists of individual real life drag artists discussing their journey with drag, race, and gender.

“It wasn’t until I came to London that I discovered drag beyond just men dressed as women.”

The short film begins by showcasing the story of Shayshay and how drag helped them truly express themselves authentically. As the performer points out, many people, specifically cis and straight people who have no relation to queer art forms, have a false notion of drag queens only being cis men dressed as women. However, the viewer shortly comes to realise that trans, non-binary, and afab (assigned female at birth) people can all be drag queens too.

Representing Asian Drag

Peach Paradise manages to represent a new aspect of drag. This new aspect transcends gender roles while also redefining Asian drag and drag as a whole. We are introduced to the three main founders of The Bitten Peach. They are the UK’s only ‘gender-diverse, pan-Asian drag and cabaret collective’. Through this collective, various Asian drag performers were able to find a sense of community, away from the discrimination and marginalisation of the outside world.

Drag as an art form has the power to see beyond gender. It creates a safe space for queer and trans people alike. Peach Paradise takes this aspect further, revealing a connection between heritage, culture and gender identity. The same way Shayshay’s grandmother had to ‘put her culture away’ during World War II, so did they with their identity as a queer, trans, non-binary Asian drag performer.

As the short film states, it is rare to find Asian leads throughout Western film history, let alone queer and trans Asian characters. This short film is an important documentary on the lives of drag artists. However, it also foregrounds the positive and negative experiences of LGBTQ+ Asian performers. Therefore, the message of Peach Paradise is clear: Paradise is observing authentic queer Asian joy.

peach paradise

Make sure to watch Peach Paradise NOW. It is an incredible and beautifully directed short film. If you are interested in seeing more of Raichandani’s work, they recently also directed the short film Queer Parivaar which was shown at the London Indian Film Festival in 2022.