Strive to Be Like Lytta: Conversation with a Tel Aviv Drag Performer

I know Luca from the local Tel Aviv drag scene, first as a makeup artist, second as a drag performer and an inspiring teen who deals with her depression in a brutally honest manner. Luca and I started this photo series a few months ago and turned it into a continuous project. As a photographer, I decided that time and growth of my subject’s character was paramount for this project. It also allowed for Luca to expose the many facets of her alter ego.

Tel Aviv drag

Meet Luca – through her voice and my lens.

My name is Luca. I’m Luca like a silly pun. “look a…” – Luca.
My name is Luca…and I actually do live on the second floor. I started doing makeup two years ago when I was away visiting my grandparents in California. I had a lot of time on my hands so my sister and I went to the closest CVS and basically bought the entire makeup section…and started experimenting! Boredom is the worst feeling, but it can be manipulated into wonders!

Tell me your thoughts about Tel Aviv drag scene.

The Tel Aviv drag scene is quite miraculous in my opinion. There are so many different types of drag artists with a different vision, age, and gender – and all of them are celebrated. However, the thing I love most about the Tel Aviv drag scene is the fact that there are as many drag kings as there are drag queens. I myself am very proud to be diving into my local drag scene.

tel aviv drag

Why do you think that you are one of the only bio/hyper queens in the TLV drag scene?

I believe that this is the case because even in this form of art where women and femininity are pushed to the forefront and are celebrated; cis and trans women are not allowed to join the fight… even though it’s their everyday fight! However, I have to say that I myself have been nothing but accepted and loved in the TLV drag scene. I’m very lucky.

tel aviv drag

What inspires your art?

One big artistic powerhouse that I draw inspiration from is Sasha Velour. She represents the type of drag and aesthetic that I believe in. Sasha is innovative in every sense of that word! That is what I aspire to be. Also, I am very much inspired by the genius surrealist designer that was Elsa Schiaparelli. In addition, I am very much in awe of Greek mythology… specifically by the Greek maenads, and the goddess of madness and rabies – Lyssa (aka Lytta). Lastly, I am very inspired by the work of Sally Hewett, and her agenda of loving your body, and finding beauty in its flaws. You should check out her work!

During our many conversations, you mentioned depression and a tough period you went through. Do you consider it part of your identity?
I consider the depressive episode that I went through to be a big part of my identity. It was the most traumatizing, and honestly, also the most inevitable thing that I have ever gone through. However, now I draw power from that experience. Also, I strongly believe that talking about mental health is one of the most important things to do! It’s freeing for the person talking about it and educating for the person listening. It’s important to demystify what people think about mental illness, yet it’s even more important to just start that conversation in order to show that mental illness is real, and that it’s not something to be ashamed of! Just like any physical illness, mental illness is out of your control. You wouldn’t tell a cancer patient to just get over it, would you?
Here is something I wrote about it:

tel aviv drag

I’m Luca and I’m tired.
I’m Luca and I’m confused.
I’m Luca and I have a hard time.
It’s not because I’m a woman, or because I live in the Middle East, or
because I’m gay, or because I haven’t waxed in over two months so I
have the mustache of a boy on his bar mitzvah.

I’m a tired, confused, and struggling Luca because I’m forever haunted.
I will forever be haunted by the things I see every day.
My bed, my arm, my walls, my hair, my boxy t-shirts, my mother’s eyes, my past, and particularly by the inevitably unknown future.

I’m Luca and I’m here to say that the true silent killer is mental illness.
Mental illness is not a person you can avoid.
Mental illness is not a grey cloud above you, following you around.

Mental illness is the air you breathe.
Mental illness is in your blood, your muscles, your bones.

Let’s call mental illness Lytta.
Let’s give her a name.

I know how Lytta works.
I know what she feels like, and I know that she will never let me forget her.

Lytta.. In my words… Is a raging bitch.

tel aviv drag

However, in many ways, I strive to be like Lytta.
Much like Lytta – Luca will not be ignored.
Luca will not be dismissed.
Luca will be here, and there, and everywhere.

My name is Luca, and this has been my introduction.
Now, hear me scream.” 


Photography: Malkiella Benchabat @malkiella_b

Model & Make up: Luca Sun @lluca_ssun


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