Hire a eunuch

Castrated men appear as models in an Indian fashion show.


Jack Boulware
November 23, 2000 1:25AM (UTC)

Are you a eunuch who's tired of the world's anti-eunuch sentiments and prejudices? Then you should move immediately to India. Not only will you be accepted in Indian society, but you could even walk down a runway as a fashion model.

Eunuchs in India spans a broad spectrum of sexuality. Some have been forcibly castrated, others are gay men and still others claim to be transsexuals or hermaphrodites. But however they classify themselves, they share a paradoxical niche in the nation's culture. On one hand, they're ostracized by the masses, live in isolated groups and often work as prostitutes. But they also contribute to society, in particular by getting paid to appear at weddings, housewarmings and child births, where they dance and bless the ceremonies. Earlier this year, a eunuch named Shabnam Mausi, from the central state of Madhya Pradesh, was even elected to the state legislature.

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And last week, six eunuchs were picked to appear as runway models in the Tanpriya Creations fashion show, held in India's northern city of Lucknow. The couture world was introduced to eunuchs in dazzling designer outfits, waltzing down a ramp to thumping rock music and sharing the stage with top models, including the former Miss India.

"My aim was to help give these eunuchs a chance to be accepted in society like any one of us," the show's executive director, Kumkum Roychoudhury, told the AFP news agency.

Choreographer Rashmi Virmani added, "Initially I thought it would be a difficult task, but their enthusiasm made it very simple for me."

Participating eunuchs were ecstatic over the opportunity to strut their stuff. One, named Tina, sat backstage receiving final touches of makeup, and bubbled, "I am almost too excited to talk. I can't believe I will be walking alongside these famous models." After the gala was over, another eunuch named Razia commented, "I was so excited to interact with the who's who of the fashion world."

The professional models in the show were apprehensive at first about sharing the stage with eunuchs, but were pleased with the results. "It was this lack of experience that made things a little strained initially," said Miss Universe runner-up Manpreet Brar. "But within a few minutes I realized that they are like any other regular human beings."

Although Gul Panag, Miss India of 1998, is not a eunuch, she gained new respect for the community. "They are gifted with a lot of talent," she said.

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Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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