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In Chile’s Transgender Circus, Performers Have A Refuge From Discrimination

Associated Press photographer Luis Hidalgo takes a look at the transgender “Fama” circus in Santiago, Chile.

1. The performers in “Fama” have toured Chile for more than a decade. They say the show provides them with a respite from discrimination they face in their country.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Drag queen Susan Brown spits fire during her performance, the only classic circus act during the show.

3. “Fama” is put on by drag queens and transgender performers.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Drag queen Francoise jokes with the audience while sitting on a man’s lap.

4. Eight of the 15 performers live at the circus, which they describe as their “mobile home.”

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Pictured: Transgender Sasha Star applies her makeup before a performance.

5. Though performers call “Fama” a circus, it’s more like a vaudeville show.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Performers acknowledge the audience at the end their performance.

6. According to the AP, the transgender performers are often mocked and some of them have suffered violent attacks.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Lupita, a drag queen, prepares for her act.

7. Chile is a notoriously hard place to live for LGBT individuals; gay sex was just decriminalized in 1999. “The verbal aggressions and attacks continue, even after the passing of the anti-discrimination law,” said Vero, one of the circus’ founders.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Performer Sasha Stuart peers out from her trailer window.

9. The circus goes on year round, even in the harsh winter, with performers wearing small bikinis and worn-out stockings.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Transgender Warra Montano applies foundation as she prepares for the show.

10. For Sasha Stuart and other transgender Chileans the show is not only a way to earn a living, but a way to be part of a family. Stuart says performers earn between $125 and $240 per month. Chile’s monthly minimum wage is $380.

Transgender Sasha Stuart takes the stage.

11. “Fama” takes place in modest tents set up on the dirt, which can seat 400 people.

Luis Hidalgo / AP
Luis Hidalgo / AP

Transgender performer Brithany Star (right) and her boyfriend eat dinner inside their trailer.

13. The performers say they don’t mind the meager pay because they enjoy their job and have minimal expenses. “It’s the only work I have. Elsewhere they don’t give me work because I am a homosexual,” said performer Sasha Star.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Transgender Dulce Lafferti performs before an empty house on July 12.

15. Despite the show’s minimal funding and modest attendance, the performers say they work to act as if the tent were full.

Luis Hidalgo / AP

Audience members watch a performance in Santiago.

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Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at rachel.zarrell@buzzfeed.com.
 
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