Bold, brassy, business-minded, and beautiful, world-renowned illusionist, recording artist, and media personality Bebe Zahara Benet breaks the drag mold. Bebe seamlessly blends old Hollywood glamour, edgy couture, and a tribal flair that gives her her signature style and separates her from his counterparts.
“Drag is a creative expression. People always feel like drag is creating a feminine illusion, which is a misconception. It’s an expression of an experience, of culture, and of fashion. It’s all about embodying another color of yourself. People always want to say that they create the character, but there’s nothing to create. It’s hiding there and wants to be free. It wants to be loud, bold, assertive and do things with conviction. It’s a form of a freedom of expression and a celebration of that other color, which is a part of our human selves.”
Originally from Cameroon, Bebe (born Marshall Kudi) grew up with a strong interest in the arts. Curious about hair, fashion, and music, he would lock himself in the bathroom at a young age and visualize himself on stage in front of a roaring audience. He would carry out mock royal processions clad in makeshift ball gowns crafted from a little imagination and bed sheets. He never understood his fascination at a young age, but would later discover a craft that combined his love of music, art, fashion, and theatre.
Kudi landed in Minnesota in 2000 to pursue his studies and soon began frequenting landmark drag club called The 90s. When he first witnessed drag performers in action, he was awe-struck:
“That’s when the puzzle pieces came together,” recalls Bebe. “I knew then that this was what I was meant to do.”
After talking to a number of local drag artists, Bebe began performing. Her first gig put him on stage with legendary pop diva Cyndi Lauper. Bebe performed with Lauper on the hit song “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” for a pride event, and the rest was history.
A few years down the line, an opportunity was presented to Bebe that would showcase the drag art form on a completely different level, and introduce the versatile entertainer to the world. Bebe joined the cast of the very first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and walked away with the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar.
After being crowned, Bebe hit the ground running with music releases, appearances, and original productions. She has starred in a slew of sold-out and critically-acclaimed cabaret shows, including: “Queendom,” “Creature,” “Vanity,” and most recently “Reveal.”
Bebe has released a string of hit singles, since her 2009 debut “I’m the Shit.” Her latest, “Face,” is a braggadocious ode to her trademark beauty.
2015 will be Bebe’s biggest and boldest year yet, as she preps the release of her hotly-anticipated album, a traveling cabaret show, and a host of other business ventures. She also has television and merchandising projects in the works. She has taken the drag art form to new heights, and shows no signs of slowing down. No matter what moves she makes, it seems as if everything’s coming up Bebe. And Bebe wouldn’t have it any other way.