Ever envisaged your job as a dictator, belly dancer or a writer one day? Ceytengri, the 22-year-old Turkish queer performer and musician dreamt of becoming all of those things throughout her adolescence. It’s not the conventional rejoinder you get when asking someone what they wanted to be growing up, but it’s what makes Ceytengri one of the most delightful personalities to speak to.
Ceytengri moved to Istanbul, aged 19, to attend university, dropping out in the second semester to focus on drag. Since then, the artificer began a journey of drag, music, Youtube and acting. Now, Ceytengri commemorates the one year anniversary of her song ‘Buz Gibiyim,’ by releasing a music video for it.
“I always knew I was a star. I had a very inflated sense of self even as a little kid and liked being the centre of attention. My dream job as a 3-year-old was belly dancing. Then I wanted to be a writer when I was 11. A dictator when [I was] 12 but as the time went on I decided not to limit my creativity and spread it to every artistic discipline possible. I started taking acting lessons when I was a freshman in high school and kept taking them until university but I thought mainstream theatre was very cis-centric and there weren’t many roles or opportunities for a gender non-conforming actor.”
We move on to talk about Istanbul’s drag scenes: “We have different drag scenes in Istanbul. Elder drag queens who work at Cahide (a very popular dinner theatre here, even amongst straight people) have a very strict idea of what drag should be and we as Dudakların Cengi performers do not always see eye to eye with them. Dudakların Cengi is a very chaotic, very crowded, and very diverse lipsync event and it’s the hottest thing in Istanbul nightlife right now. Our cast recently performed at Red Bull Music Festival here and I could not be more proud of our work as a team. We are redefining what drag is and put substance before style. Wink wink, nudge nudge. I hope the rest of the world can catch up.”
Ceytengri’s artistic charm is conspicuous in the Buz Gibiyim music video. For the entire duration of the video, we see her in bondage, hanging from ropes, with flashing, disco-esque lights. Latex and killer heels (quite literally, killer) adds to the fetish-exuding aura, while the beat and sounds of the track itself are probably something you’d hear at an underground LSD rave.
As for the meaning, Ceytengri explains that “Buz Gibiyim is about obsessive desire. It’s a love letter to a crush, saying, ‘I can be a boy, a girl, or anything in between. I can be anything you want me to be if it means that I could have you.’ Now I must admit, I was 19 when I wrote it, so not the most healthy outlook on relationships.”
Lyrics translated into English:
I’m a river bent over its bed
I shall flow wherever you wish me to
I’m not that deep but I’m wet if you wanna come for a swim
I may be narrow at first but I’ll get wider further ahead
I gush out of my spring
And the obstacles between us, I’ll wear them down with the force of my friction
You’re a rock-solid bridge, I pass under you
Drink, if you’re parched
I’m as cold as ice
The inspiration for the bondage element came from the Shibari performers. Ceytengri recalls this moment – “when I saw it, something just clicked.”
We go on to discuss whether Ceytengri expected any form of reaction out of it, and she informs me that “It was about a sense of duty. Buz Gibiyim is a revolutionary track both for me and my community and had to have a music video to accompany it.”
So, what’s next for this MESA creative? “It’s very ambitious due to the pandemic but I’m writing new songs and I am working with my friends who are music producers. I’m also getting into YouTube and mainly focusing on creating content on the Internet because the whole nightlife has stopped until further notice. But I miss being on stage a lot.”