Eugene Tan is better know to the LGBT community and the general public by his cross-dressing persona of Becca D'Bus.
In 2014, Tan hosted risqué life drawing session Dr Sketchy when he was a magazine editor by day and theatre performer and drag queen Becca d’Bus by night.
On Valentine’s Day in 2015, Tan founded RIOT!, Singapore’s only regular drag revue which comes alive on the second Saturday of each month. It was initially held at TAB along Orchard Road. In April 2015, RIOT! received funding from the controversial No Star Arts Grant.
Tan's favorite hangouts are:
- Kampong Glam, where he feels "super local" because he knows his way around little shops selling incredible things that become his costumes, and little cafes where he dines.
- Orchard Road, where he feels like a tourist in his own country.
He wishes to see a queer revolution in Singapore.
Tan's mother used to be a Home Economics teacher. She did not like anyone in the family touching her sewing machine, because Tan thinks it was her space away from the family. But then he started making things when she was not at home. The fashion options for a very large person like Tan were not many. Now making clothes for the day is more like a mental game. I wonder if I could put shapes that don’t belong together together. Can I make something in which I use up all the fabric?
When Tan lived in Boston, he worked in a queer theatre company. His first job was to produce and direct a guerrilla AIDS activist theatre project where they performed in public parks where men have sex in the middle of the night. He did not think he was going to come back to Singapore and get a similar job.
Tan was fully expecting that Singapore was going to be a rough transition, and it was not that bad. But it did mean that his career did a complete detour. He ended up working in public relations at a fashion retailer for a couple of years. Tan figures that when one decides that one is going to be a performer, one knows that one is going to work really odd hours. Having a day job is a very natural fit for that sort of life. Theatre is made after hours anyway.
Tan used to do outreach education in gay clubs in Boston. They would set up their table with condoms and lube and information. And no one wanted to talk to them. One night they went out in drag, and it was insanely successful. As a drag queen, it was unfathomable that one would want to sleep with somebody at the club, so people will tell him all sorts of things. And that was how he started.
Becca d’Bus is Eugene Tan but heightened. She is much more likely to do something that is insanely stupid or provocative than Tan is.
"The first [way to choose a drag name] is what we used to call Insanely White Lady Names. I have a friend named Blair Kensington. The second is an over-the-top, extremely glamorous, black-sounding name. Trinity K. Bonet from Ru Paul’s Drag Race comes to mind. The third way is a name that is one word that isn’t otherwise a name. In Boston, there was a queen whose name was Mizery and another named Jujubee. Tan wanted something punny but also political. It came down to Becca d’Bus and Cybil Disobedience. A friend pointed out, “I can promise you there’s a Cybil Disobedience in the world by now.” If it’s not entertaining I’m not interested. I’ve seen drag that isn’t entertaining. It’s fucking painful to be around. Drag is capable of commenting on society or culture in a way that’s quite arch. It’s not the job of a drag queen to be a good girl. Singapore has been very kind to Becca d’Bus. Nobody in the States was putting her in a play, and they just did in Singapore. Nobody needs to like me. It’s sad to say, but nobody needs the arts. For people to take a chance on something that’s different, I’ve always felt very grateful. I’m afraid of sucking. Which is not a great thing when you’re a creative person. I live alone. At 11:30 on a Sunday morning, I’m likely to be naked, at home, in bed or not, contemplating what I want to eat, but not doing anything about making that happen. It’s not that interesting, is it? But definitely copious amounts of nudity are part of that equation. My mom has only ever said, “Just don’t get glitter all over the house.” It’s probably wise. It does get everywhere. There are parents who will get up and speak in front of crowds. Then there are also parents who have rejected their kid—because they’re fucking idiots. But in between there are a lot of parents who feel like I’m not going to ask you how you have sex. I’m not sure how this is a relevant conversation. Living away from Singapore is when I became a person who is fully-formed and is powerful and intelligent—hopefully—and is comfortable in their own skin. I don’t know what parent doesn’t want that for their child. Outness in Singapore is not like the American concept of outness. Yes, this version of outness impedes activism. But the American model of outness—this is my life partner, I want to marry them—has as well. The queer community had been good at proposing alternatives to monogamous coupledom. But because of the marriage fight, we don’t look at that as legitimate anymore. There’s a part of activism that’s about demanding your rights. It’s also about negotiating space. I haven’t seen the marriage fight as being very good at saying, “What’s our common ground here?”"
On 20 February 2016, Tan, along with three other well known drag queens Noris, Mona Kee Kee and Vyla Virus performed at Filthy & Gorgeous, a cabaret brunch party at Thai restaurant Long Chim at Marina Bay Sands.
- "Out Of The Closet: Eugene Tan aka Becca D’Bus Shares His Story", Dear Straight People, 4 April 2016.
- Gurveen Kaur, "Adding sass to brunch with a drag queen show", The Straits Times, 19 February 2016.
- Amelia A. Gerick, "Drag Revues and Backwards Bach Performances: 7 Innovative Singaporean Artists", The Creators Project, 15 August 2015.
- Mayo Martin, "Singapore Night Festival goes glam", TODAY, 29 July 2015.