dima
  • Bugis street

    In December 1980, I left Paris for a two-year trip to Asia and Australia. I had limited experience in photography. After spending a month in Bangkok, I arrived in Singapore where I checked in at a hotel located on the fourth floor of an impersonal tower. A few days later, around midnight, I headed for Bugis Street in a neighborhood of old Chinese houses from the colonial era. Within an hour, strange androgynous creatures arrived by taxi. Dressed in sexy, tight-fitting dresses or satiny pants, wearing heavy stage makeup and high heels, they took over the territory. The street seemed to belong to them and their dramatic entrance was followed by scrutinizing eyes. It appeared that most visitors were there to watch the show that had just begun. I stroked up a conversation with Rose who was of Malaysian background. She was 23 years old, tall, thin and muscular. She wanted to know where I came from, how long I was going to stay in Singapore. During the following weeks, I became close to Rose and she introduced me to her friends: Amina, Danita, Delphine and Susanna. They liked having me photograph them and would strike natural poses. After five or six weeks in Singapore, short of money, I had to leave for Australia. I would return in 1984 only to learn that Bugis Street was about to be torn down to make way for the subway. For more than twenty five years, I completely forgot those photos. It’s only recently that I came across them.