Mark Mascarenhas, a drag queen who is better known as Tropical Marca has had his fair share of curveballs this pandemic. With the closure of clubs and an unprecedented halt on gigs due to the Coronavirus, things went downhill when his father was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. The cost of treatment running into lakhs was another spoke in the wheel. But as we speak to this drag queen, there’s not a hint of morosity at having mounting struggles to combat.
The show must go on, he says.
The struggles of being a drag queen during Coronavirus
Mark has been performing as a drag queen for 3 years and has done gigs at Kitty Su, been associated with a Swedish producer, and has had jazz to keep him company through his happening career. But everything came to a grinding halt when the Coronavirus struck. “Like a lot of others, I was under the impression the lockdown, the pandemic and the stop on businesses would last a fortnight. But then to my surprise, it went on for a month, then two, then three, and now I’ve lost count.”
Artists’ live gigs were brought to a standstill, and being the only earning member in the family, Mark started to get cold feet. “With my Dad having retired, my drag queen business was the main support. The Coronavirus pandemic did bring its own misfortunes and struggles. Just when I thought the work scene was as bad as it could get, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer.”
When friends became family
For Mark, it was no easy task coming face-to-face with reality. “When Dad was diagnosed with an aggressive malignant laryngeal tumour, the doctor pronounced 3 sessions of chemotherapy as the solution. However, this came with a disclaimer. Dad would need surgery at once if the tumour left the bone and started to spread its reach over the body.”
“HCG, the cancer hospital where my Dad currently is, is our best option, but the cost of treatment is sky-high. And while my Dad had an insurance cover of a lakh, this was soon wiped clean with PET scans, tests, radiation etc. He’s been in and out of hospital since a year for other complications, and that’s where the money has gone.”
When asked about reaching out to NGOs for financial assistance, Mark smiles. “My father has his pride and well, asking for NGO help is a last resort. For now, we are trying to organize as much fundraising as we can through word-of-mouth. HCG has given us premium treatment at a nominal cost, and for that we are grateful. Another benefit is, it is a non-COVID hospital and so unnecessary worry about contracting the coronavirus does not plague our minds.”
While it did seem like life was at its worst, Mark says friends turned family. “They have been blessings in disguise for me, through this. I am fortunate to have them close, and never having to bat an eyelid before reaching out to them.” With the crowd-funding that Mark has been doing, he has received 1,37,000 in cash. “Can you imagine? 60 friends jumped to the rescue and this is just by my request on Instagram! This generous outflow motivated me to go ahead and ask for donations online, as I was told the figure doubles once the plea is promoted.”
A learning experience
Through all the struggles that have been strewn on the path of the drag queen in the wake of the Coronavirus, he says it has been a learning experience. “Though work has been scanty, this time has given me an opportunity to grow and evolve. It has led me to learn lessons for life. When the Coronavirus just began, everyone was on a spending spree, to get over the blues of the pandemic. I was too, but in time I learnt the art of not being impulsive. Planning for the future is a no-brainer and now I’m working on being this improved version of myself.”
Mark is all set to be part of the Myntra Fashion Superstar, the shooting for which commences from tomorrow. He will have his hands full but says the show must go on. “My parents were in full support of me going away for the shoot, and that is my pillar of strength. I know when I am away, my friends will take charge and fill in the gaps.”
If you wish to donate to this cause and help Mark’s father in this battle against cancer, you can click on the link: https://bit.ly/2YENoDF