Esquire (Singapore) - - Style -

he bur­lesque per­former can some­times fall into gross car­i­ca­ture—am­ple dé­col­letage, cal­lipy­gous, waist tinier than the cir­cum­fer­ence of her head. It’s an easy stereo­type to whip out, a gen­er­ous brush­stroke across a can­vas.

But dur­ing cof­fee one morn­ing, Sukki Sin­ga­pora, 28, Sin­ga­pore’s first bur­lesque artist is far from the boil­er­plate. Now, she’s in mo­tor­cy­cle pants and a track­suit; her eyes eclipsed be­hind sun­glasses, her fruit punch hair stretched back into a messy bun; her glam­our stripped from her.

This isn’t the im­age that Sin­ga­pora wants peo­ple to see. Usu­ally.

“When I started,” she says af­ter sip­ping her cof­fee, “I didn’t want peo­ple to know how much of an emo­tional strug­gle I had in carv­ing out my bur­lesque ca­reer.” To show­case this is to ex­pose her Achilles heel; it leaves her vul­ner­a­ble.

But her opin­ion started to shift last year when she moved to LA to fur­ther her ca­reer. There, she dis­cov­ered that she was a min­now among sharks in the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. In Sin­ga­pore, she gets stopped in the streets for a selfie, but in LA, no one gave a toss. She had to be­gin from zero once more. This set­back proved in­ter­est­ing. “When you say you’re from Sin­ga­pore, that holds peo­ple’s at­ten­tion in Hol­ly­wood be­cause that’s a story they’ve never heard of be­fore.” Can that be seen as fetishis­ing though? Sin­ga­pora thinks for a beat. “That’s al­ways the case for Hol­ly­wood, es­pe­cially when you’re an Asian woman. But I’m not the typ­i­cal aes­thetic of what an Asian or Sin­ga­porean woman should look like.” She high­lights her racial am­bi­gu­ity as an ex­am­ple—it helps, in terms of not pi­geon­hol­ing her into a safe cat­e­gory, thus open­ing her to more op­por­tu­ni­ties, but it hin­ders as well, as she has to jus­tify her race and na­tion­al­ity. “That’s al­ways one of the first few ques­tions they ask me that usu­ally de­tracts from my work,” she says, rolling her eyes.

To be fair, it’s not just in Amer­ica that she ex­pe­ri­ence this; she gets the same treat­ment in Sin­ga­pore but af­ter a while, peo­ple come to terms with it. Sin­ga­pora avers that it’s the ap­pear­ance of the new wave of mixed-race

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