Bangkok’s cultural scene never fails to impress us with its new talents and thought-provoking arts. The city has become a hot haven for dynamic up-and-coming artists, welcoming innovative ideas and talents with open arms. Dedicated to all these creatives in town, this series explores the journey and the edgy personalities of some of the most notable rising stars in the country.

We wanted to feature someone especially extravagant for the month of June, and no name rings more extravagance than this one: Pangina Heals.

The iconic Thai drag queen is one of the most famous and most adored in the entire Asian region, and it’s not difficult to see why. With over a decade of experience in the entertainment industry, nightlife lovers will know her from the notorious nights at Maggie Choos, whilst others may have been glued to her screen as the former host of Drag Race Thailand. Last year, despite the madness that was 2020, she opened an eponymous drag show bar at House of Heals, and it instantly shot to the top as the place to see and be seen.

It’s easy to get sucked into the glitz and the glam of it all, and watch Pangina Heals with glowing eyes. And yet, in conversation with Pan Pan Narkprasert, the man behind Pangina Heals, we find a riveting amalgamation of sorts. Pangina Heals is authenticity and illusion, she’s honesty and artistry, and she’s where beauty meets meaning. A symbol and an idol for many, the drag queen slash businessman is a beloved and important character with a message that goes deep beneath the — admittedly flawless — exterior.

Here, fresh upon landing in the US to celebrate Pride Month, we sat down with the icon to chat all things pride, power, and being Pangina. Read on for her story, her journey, and her book recommendation — yes it involves Mariah Carey.

[All images courtesy of Pangina Heals]

Describe yourself in three words.

Loud. Proud. Unapologetic — and professional.

What do you like about drag? How did you get into it?

I like the transformative aspect [of drag], it’s like being a superhero, and you get to change into different characters.

I got into it from a Lady Gaga competition 10 years ago, where you had to dress up like her, and I won. I got to go to New York for her concert, and I got to sit in a limousine, and everything was paid for. That experience became something that I got in to as a passion and it turned into something that became my life.

It is so liberating to do what society says you can’t, and pay tribute to the strong qualities of what it means to be a female.

 

Please tell us a little about House of Heals. How and why did it start?

The House of Heals opened last year. It was a long-time dream of mine. I wanted to have my own show bar named after me. It’s the biggest dream for a drag queen to have a place to perform, but for me it’s also so important to have a space for other performers. It’s not just drag, but also for singing and other arts to have a stage, because there are so many great and talented artists here. I wanted to create a stage for Thai artists to perform and turn into a world stage whenever anyone comes through Bangkok.

It started because I just stopped thinking that I was only capable of being a performer, and I wanted to be an entrepreneur, a business person, a drag queen, and an emcee. I feel like if you stop limiting yourself, you can reach your full potential.

 

Please tell us a little about your role as an activist.

People call me an activist, but for me, I just think the personal is the political.

I speak out whenever I feel that there is an injustice, and whenever I feel like something is not right. You have a responsibility that comes with having a platform and a voice. If I feel like my platform can help someone, I’m going to use it — whether it’s for charity or speaking against social injustice. Power comes from having a voice, so use it.

 

If you were not an artist, what would you be?

I would probably be a magician. I guess I kind of am a magician, where I am tricking people with the illusion of being a female.

Name the last TV show you binge-watched.

Pose Season 3. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

What is a character you would like to play from a TV show or movie?

Elektra from Pose. She is the mother of all houses.

If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Last Dance by Donna Summer.

 

What is an Instagram account you’re currently obsessed with?

My own, because that’s something that I want to be focusing on. I want to put out great images, and I want people to see and share good positive vibes. It’s how I speak out.

What are you currently reading?

Abundance Now by Lisa Nichols and The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey.

If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be?

“How Pangina Heals.” It would be a memoir about how I got through the journey of life and loving myself and going through all the crazy sh*t to get to where I am today.

What is your catch phrase or life motto?

Honestly, it’s “this too shall pass.” Whenever I’m going through hardship or going through pain, I realise that it’s going to go away one day and time heals all wounds.

 

What’s a wardrobe staple everyone should own?

I don’t want to say stuff like a “corset” or “high heels” because some thing that everyone should own is something that makes them feel the most comfortable or confident — something you feel you can walk down the runway of life in.

Name 3 essential items you always carry in your bag.

My Tom Ford perfume, my face mask, and my poysian inhaler.

Your favourite spot in Bangkok? And the best thing about this city?

The House of Heals! [laughs] Lumpini Park and The Stranger Bar Silom Soi 4.

The best thing about this city is the fact that you can go to a gay club or bar any night of the week. In some cities it’s only once or twice a week. Here in Thailand we’re so open to having drag performers every night of the week, which I feel very blessed about.

 

Lastly, a few words for Pride Month:

Be unapologetic. Be you. Celebrate others. Listen more. Celebrate your own individuality, your own beauty, and understand other people’s differences. Love more.

Lisa Gries
Creative Content Director, Bangkok
Lisa loves to travel, and is always on the lookout for the world’s best nap spots. She’s a serious Asian art history nerd, and has a knack for languages and coffee table books. She hopes to publish her own novels one day, one of which will likely be called ‘All The Great Conversations I Had In A Bangkok Speakeasy.’ It’s a work in progress.