Teddy Chien (簡志澄) sits in the upscale boardroom of his office that overlooks Ximending. The founder and artistic director of Snow White Entertaining Troupe (SWET, 白雪綜藝劇團) is dressed casually in blue jeans and white T-shirt, a dramatic contrast to the photos of him as a woman, which are displayed on the long table.
The pictures show Chien in various poses wearing eye-catching dresses and slinky swimwear that seem more suited to a fashion magazine than a theater troupe's promotional material.
"It usually takes two hours to put on my makeup and get ready for each show," he said. "Rehearsals for each performance take three days."
Chien's reputation and the promotional images were enough to convince Taipei's Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) to invite him to perform as a compliment to its current exhibit, Fashion Accidentally (流行的意外).
Titled I "drag" therefore I am: Snow White Singing Hall, three drag queens and 12 dancers will take to the stage at 7:30pm tomorrow and perform hit songs in Chinese, Taiwanese and English. Chien will team up with a live band to sing four songs, followed by lip-synched tunes by pop diva Jolin Tsai (蔡依林).
Chien will change costumes nine times during the eight songs he performs - a balancing act that he says has taken years to perfect. He is helped along, however, by the design expertise of Lai Wei-jyong (賴蔚炅), a winner of the Golden Horse Film Festival's Best Costume design award.
Dressing up in drag is an art form, said Chien, and audiences throughout Taiwan are warming to Snow White's cheeky brand of entertainment.
"First time viewers usually react positively to our performances," he said. "And quite often they are the ones who go to our future shows."
Having Snow White perform at the museum continues a tradition begun by MOCA last year.
"For every exhibition we invite a performance group to perform in the square," said Elaine Liu (劉怡怜), from MOCA's development and promotions division.
Liu said MOCA chose a drag queen show because it fits into the themes expressed in the exhibit.
Curated by Sean Hu (胡朝聖), Fashion Accidentally features the work of 15 international artists in a variety of media. Liu says the themes expressed in the show provoke the viewer to approach culture and clothing on several different levels.
The exhibit's featured artists include Yasumasa Morimura and Ho Meng-chuan (何孟娟), both of whom use drag as a means of challenging accepted notions of what men and women should wear.
"But we didn't want something as serious as the art," Liu said.
Appealing to MOCA's neighbors is of primary importance, she said.
"This is an old neighborhood ... [and] we invited them as a means of drawing together people who might not go to see contemporary art but are interested in seeing a lively performance."
Liu hopes that if MOCA's neighbors are interested in the performance they might enter the museum.
Note: MOCA will keep its doors open until 7pm tomorrow.