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Mina Gerges: Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Mina Gerges: Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery


Mina Gerges's restaging of pop diva photos is more than the sincerest form of flattery, it's fanboy art.

Mina Gerges is what we call an internet sensation. Yes, you may be burned out on Twitter stars, YouTube virals and Instagram gods, but check out Mina's devotional work. Part idolatry and part wry critique, Mina, a student at Western University in Canada, woos us with a total surrender to his craft: diva mimicry.

Born in Egypt, Mina had a difficult coming out process. "[I] moved to Canada when I was 11 years old. Going to an all boys school there was difficult because I wasn't into sports like all the other boys. I came out to my sisters, but having traditional middle eastern parents who've expressed that homosexuality is a sin and unnatural, coming out to them was very difficult."

Mina hopes that by having fun and playing with gender stereotypes he can help open up people's minds about different gender expressions.

"Having been born and growing up in Egypt, I am aware of the persecutions and the systematic oppression that LGBTQ+ people often face. I am lucky to have supportive family members and peers, but I am aware of the hardships queer people still face in worldwide and even in Canada. The pictures I create are my form of self-expression and freedom, having grown up in a culture that persecutes and demonizes gay people. In light of my Instagram posts, I have received emails from LGBTQ people in Cairo supporting my work and embracing my message, as they don't feel they can express themselves given the restrictions in traditional Middle Eastern society. That was so inspiring to me."

Mina answered some questions by email about his work: Mina, you are a handsome young man with a great smile. Were you worried about the reactions of your fellow students at the University when they saw these fairly outrageous images?

When my friends first saw the pictures, there were mixed reviews. But the negativity motivated me to keep pushing people to accept this form of self-expression!

Can you remember the first celebrity photo you recreated?

The first celebrity photo I recreated was about a year and a half ago. It was of Rihanna giving the middle finger. I didn't have a wig or anything, I was slowly discovering my creative vision - but I loved that I gave people something new to look at on their Instagram timelines.

Do you have a favorite diva you lean towards? Or is it more abut the specific photo?

My favorite diva is Kim Kardashian - I LOVE her confidence and I always try to embody it in my pictures. However, most of the time, the photos I choose are outrageous and extravagant, and often the subject of pop culture conversation.

The Katy Perry image: How in the hell did you make that cut out skirt?
The skirt is actually a pair of my black briefs, which I had to sacrifice and cut through for the picture!

It looks like you have roped your fiends into helping you? How did you get them to do that, and how did you make those amazing boots?
My close friends have been very supportive, so a lot of the time they volunteer to do a picture with me. Luckily, I have enough wigs to go around! And for the boots.... Let's just say some paint and paper go a long way!

Uh, you recreated the step and repeat wall. Do you keep all your props?
A lot of my props are a one-time only thing. I have makeup and hair, and other staple props like fabrics that I keep with me. But most of the time, everything I make is for one specific photo only, then it's thrown out after the photo-shoot!

I am guess white garbage bags?
Nope! This was a white table cloth wrapped around my waist!

You don't do your own faux tattoos too, do you? Like how did you do this?
I do my own faux tattoos! It involved lots of concentration and steady hand motion, but it's definitely worth it.

This makes us wonder do you do your own makeup?
I do my own makeup! To be honest, it's SO hard. I have a lot of respect for makeup artists after this. Luckily, my sisters give me all the makeup they don't use, so I get to practice whenever I'm bored in preparation for shoots!

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And this one makes us ask: anything you ever regreted?
With this picture, the only thing I regret is not using white chairs like the one Nicki has in the picture.

On this image we are hoping that's all your butt. Any Photoshop there? (The interns in the office want to know.)
Here, I photoshopped the color of my skin and may have made my triceps a bit bigger. But the butt and the thunder thighs are unfortunately not photoshopped. I say unfortunately because not only is it so difficult to find pants that fit right, but I can't borrow any of my boyfriend's cute clothes.

Do you actually have time to study? How are your grades?
Most of the pictures I do when I'm stressed out, so it's therapeutic for me. I find that it helps me work better, actually. Last semester I had an 80.5% average, and I'm hoping to achieve similar grades this upcoming semester! To be honest, being a media student, I find that I'm already immersed in pop culture, so these pictures help me engage with and critique pop culture in a fun way.

This one is my favorite. Have any of these gals contacted you?
I love the Kardashians/ Jenners, but unfortunately none of them have contacted me (Let's make that happen?) But Katy Perry Tweeted my photo last week, which was surreal.

What's the deal with all the pizza?
I lost 100 pounds two years ago and became obsessed with body image. It really sucked, I felt like I was trying to have a nice body so that boys would talk to me, and it made me very unhappy. However, I learned that my body is not the most important thing about me, and I learned to be confident in my own skin even if I didn't have the Andrew Christian model body that has apparently become the standard of beauty in the gay community. Pizza was my favorite food before I lost weight and I cut it out of my diet during my weight loss journey. However, now that I'm comfortable in my own skin, it's become a staple part of my diet again, and it makes me so happy. So the pizza is my way of showing people that I've grown to be confident in my own skin.

Regarding this, anybody hitting you up for dates?
Yes! My boyfriend loves taking me out on dates. We try to go to a new restaurant that neither of us has tried before once a week. We always end up at McDonalds.... But it's the thought that counts, right?

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