Mr. Danzi/Weibo

Chinese Drag Queen Sets Internet On Fire With Risque Grocery Trip

Clean up, aisle six!

There’s no RuPaul’s Drag Race: China (yet), but the People’s Republic has a legacy of gender-swapping performance that stretches back centuries. This week, photos of “Sister Tomato” at a supermarket in Shenzhen went viral across the Internet.

weibo sister tomato
Mr. Danzi/Weibo

Sister Tomato—a.k.a. Shenzhen Superstar Tomato—is a pole dancer who performs in clubs across China. She told BuzzFeed she wears what she wants and doesn’t care if people stare or take pictures.

“I feel good to be dressed like that,” she says. “Sometimes when I hear music I like in malls, I’ll start dancing and people will stare at me and take photos. It’s just fun for everybody, then I’ll say goodbye [and leave].”

sister tomato
Mr. Danzi/Weibo

Weibo, China’s answer to Facebook and Twitter, has been very useful about getting the word out. For this photo series, she posted to a photographer, Mr. Danzi, “I’m going to do some shopping, and I’ll be dressed up very beautifully.”

Internationally, the stunt seems to have gotten the thumbs up, but reaction on Weibo was mixed.

sister tomato
Sister Tomato/Weibo

“I respect all kinds of unusual clothing,” said one commentor. “It’s the freedom of choice people have.”

“For any sex or age to dress like this and go out is called an eyesore,” added another. “Transvestites are subject to no difference, one can’t just wear underwear, cut a hole above the butt and go out. Please don’t overcorrect — have we not shown enough tolerance to minorities nowadays?”

And then there was this woman: “Won’t they get a cold dressed like this?!”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery