JERUSALEM — As Israel imposed a nationwide virus lockdown, shuttering theaters, clubs and bars, the country's drag queens found themselves confined to their homes, their elaborate wigs and glittery dresses languishing in the closet.
Two of them decided to make the best of it by putting on a variety show in their own living room. First broadcast on Facebook, the show was recently picked up by a TV network.
“We said OK, let’s try to make lemonade from this lemon, and to add some vodka, and to do something with it," said Tal Kallai, a 35-year-old actor who goes by the stage name Talula Bonet.
He and fellow drag queen Yuval Edelman, 45, who is known as Ziona Patriot, now have their own show on Israel's music channel 24, titled “Quarantined.”
They perform song-and-dance numbers and trade jokes around a table packed with bottles of disinfectant. In one episode, Kallai shows how to apply lipstick to the outside of a face mask.
“We make you laugh, and we make you dance, and we make you move,” Edelman said.
Israel has reported more than 9,400 cases of the new coronavirus and at least 71 deaths. The country went into a nationwide lockdown in mid-March, with all non-essential businesses closed. Israelis are currently barred from traveling more than 100 meters (yards) from their homes, except to purchase food and medicine.
The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms, including cough and fever, in most patients, who recover within a few weeks. But it is highly contagious and can be spread by those who appear healthy. It can cause severe illness or death, particularly in elderly patients or those with underlying conditions.
Israeli officials have said they may start to loosen restrictions after the Passover holiday ends later this month, but it could be weeks or months before performance venues reopen.
Edelman remains optimistic.
“It's going to be bad, maybe even worse, but it's going to get better,” he said. “The future is glittery.”