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Drag Queens of Java

Lengger Lanang is one of Java’s most unique traditions. In the past, men dressed in drag and heavy makeup to perform spiritual dances to entertain and appease ancestral spirits. Over the decades, as conservative Islam and fear of Communist uprisings spread, many of the performers were forced underground and the tradition was almost stamped out completely. These days Lengger Lanang is performed mostly by women, but a small group in Central Java is looking to revive the tradition with men in full drag. VICE Indonesia follows this group as they prepare to compete in the region’s largest cultural competition.

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