With much anticipation, World of Wonder (WOW), producer of Drag Race Philippines, revealed the drag performers competing in the first season of the local version of the drag competition RuPaul’s Drag Race. The cast is one of the biggest in the franchise with 12 queens.
WOW released the “Meet the Queens” videos on YouTube and their social media accounts, showing the queens introducing themselves. They also released the promo looks, which are much talked about. The queens donned fashion inspired by a Philippine street icon —the jeepney, a common mode of transportation and also a vehicle of folk creativity, which was in danger of being phased out, engendering protests. They appear in costumes bearing recognizable jeepney design elements such as the distinctive typeface of signages, metallic hoods, and even giant Good Morning towels, which many drivers use.
The contestant unveiling came after the announcement of permanent judges, Jiggly Caliente and KaladKaren, and host, Paolo Ballesteros. While there is more to reveal in the following days, meet first the queens fiercely vying for the crown:
Twenty-nine-year-old Brigiding from Mandaluyong City is one of the most prominent names in the Philippine drag scene, known for her spectcular looks and performances. One of the founders of Drag Playhouse PH, a local drag content and entertainment provider, she has been performing in Pride and drag events in the Philippines and abroad.
“I have performed in Thailand; in Vietnam; in Sydney, Australia; London, UK; in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, United States of America,” she says in her “Meet the Queen” video. “With the experiences I’ve had internationally, I can apply it here in the Philippines and that makes me more rounded than the other girls.
“I am good friends with the Vixen, with Denali. You know, I love those girls. I like hanging out with Drag Race alumni and now I’m here, so welcome to the sisterhood,” she adds.
“Brigiding is bold. She’s big. She’s bubbly. She’s bonga! Bonga performances all the time. High-energy performance to the next level all the time,” she describes herself.
“I am a ball of energy whenever I perform. I like to have fun on stage. I don’t take things too seriously. Ako ‘yung magkakamali onstage. Ako ‘yung tutumba-tumba. Ako ‘yung makikipag-inuman sa audience. (I am the clumsy one onstage. I am the one who tumbles down. I would drink with the audience),” Brigiding, who proudly declares that she is a lip-sync assassin, continues. “I just love, love, love sharing good energy with happy people. Life is here for me need for myself and for the people who believe in me.”
“I feel a lot of pressure coming from the people who believe in me. There are times that I always doubt myself. What do they see in me? But I take those words from them for me to believe in myself as well. From one to ten, I think my confidence level is at maybe eight or nine,” she shares.
Brigiding also says, “Siguro, mas natatakot ako sa sarili ko na ma-disappoint ako (Maybe, I am more afraid that I might disappoint myself) at the end of the day for the things that I can’t control. I want to inspire every young gay boy’s dream that you can and you will be the brightest if you just believe in yourself.”
A pageant queen with several crowns, 34-year-old Corazon from Bolinao, Pangasinan, competed in both male bikini contests and provincial Miss Gay shows. She is a freelance makeup artist, who create her own gowns. She actually operates a rental shop for beauty pageant enthusiasts and contestants.
“Masayahin si Corazon pero huwag ka, sobrang palaban. Hindi mo ako kayang bully-hin dahil ibabalik ko sa ‘yo ang gagawin mo sa akin (Corazon is cheerful but beware she is a fighter. You can’t bully me because I’ll give you a dose of your own medicine),” she shares in her video.
Corazon boasts that she is an actress and can do everything except singing but because she is shameless, she can do it. She also says that she might not be likable but she assures that she will give a good fight.
Eva Le Queen
Thirty-something from Marikina City, Eva Le Queen worked in Singapore for eight years before becoming a drag performer. During the day she would work corporate, but at night she worked as a drag queen. Four months into doing drag, she already won first runner-up in Drag It Out All-Stars competition in Singapore.
“I just knew [that] when I picked up that brush, transformed and I saw myself in the mirror, it was love at first drag,” she says.
“As an artist, I just wanted to express myself and instead of writing it on paper like writers do I’m using my body. So, my entire drag persona is my canvas,” she adds.
Eva said that her aesthetics is “camp and glam” and she is inspired by literary and cinematic villains.
“My name Eva Le Queen came from ‘evil queen.’ I’ve always had this fascination about villains and strong, dark female energy. And I really want that to translate [those] into my drag,” she explains.
Her strengths are comedy and her looks.
“My drag personality is very dignified. It’s always clean. It’s in the name, very regal, very polished, and always with a pinch of stupid. I always want that. You know, people don’t like it when you’re too smart,” she avers.
She also says that she is a lip-sync assassin: “I am confident with my lip-synch. My mouth has done wonderful things, lots of wonderful things.”
She further says, “Maybe, a lot of people see me as a political queen. I’ve been very vocal about a lot of things. Drag is built upon activism. I would like to say that I am a drag queen with substance, the right substance, if you know what I mean.”
Eva is a resident queen at Nectar Nightclub and is also one of the founders of Drag Playhouse PH. She is so glad that RuPaul’s Drag Race is now in the Philippines to showcase local drag.
“I am a superstar and I know that winning the crown will open up the opportunities not just for myself but for the entire Philippine drag community… To my sisters, let’s make ‘herstory.’ Let’s show the world what Philippine drag is all about,” she declares.
Thirty-eight-year-old Gigi Era hails from Davao City but has been based in Melbourne, Australia, for six years now working as a professional drag performer known for her stunts and real hair wigs. Before that, Gigi worked as dancer and airplane cabin crew member in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She says that she is one of the most hard-working queens and she is proud of her story of building herself “from the bottom to where I am right now.”
Another queen from Davao City, 30-year-old Lady Morgana has been doing drag for 17 years and describes herself as “energetic, fierce, very sosi, soyal (high-end), and of course positive… with energy.” She works as a financial advisor during the day and is known her comedic and hosting skills with her spider lashes, high brows, wigs, and quirky costumes.
“I have a purpose to fulfill. I have experience to share with not only to the Filipinos but also to the whole world,” she says. “Being a drag queen is not easy and it takes a lifetime to become the best that you can be.”
Marina Summers left her hometown in Nueva Vizcaya and moved to Metro Manila to work as a content creator for a film company.
“Going into the competition, I left my job to pursue my other job which is being a stunning superstar,” says the 25-year-old queen. “I’ve been doing drag for less than three years. It feels amazing to perform alongside seasoned queens. It gives me a sense of validation that my craft is worth showing to the crowd.”
Her drag name sprang from her love of the beach, and she describes herself as “the ultimate tropical bombshell dream.”
“She represents the Philippines. She is every island of the Philippines. She is the body. She is the face. She is the skin. She can do glamor. She can do camp. She can do performances that will grab you all day, all night… She loves to perform. Every night she is giving you production. She is giving you the Beyonce, the JLo… all the pop stars combined into one superstar,” she boasts.
Marina says she should be the first Drag Race Philippines winner “because I represent what the future of Filipino drag is. I am here to uplift the Filipino talent and to be an image of hope for those who doesn’t have anyone to look up to when they’re young.”
She recently released her debut single, “I Have Arrived” on Spotify and iTunes; performs regularly at Nectar Nightclub; and is another one of the founders of Drag Playhouse PH.
International attention came for Minty Fresh early this year. On 20 March, the mostly pink-clad attendees of the “PasigLaban Para sa TroPA: People’s Rally Para Kay Leni at Kiko,” the joyous campaign rally of presidential candidate Leni Robredo and vice-presidential candidate Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan held on Ortigas Center’s F. Ortigas Avenue (Emerald Avenue), sang to international pop star Ariana Grande’s “Break Free.” The scene was so spectacular that a video snippet was shared by Grande on her Instagram account, saying, “I could not believe this was real. I love you more than words.” The people, which totaled to about 140,000 by the end of the momentous event, were singing along Minty Fresh’s performance.
A staunch supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, Minty Fresh is a 31-year-old model, designer, singer, makeup artist, beauty vlogger and performer from Quezon City. She regularly performs at Nectar Nightclub.
She shares that her greatest achievement as a makeup artist is doing makeup for actor Nadine Lustre. She also achieved her dream of being a model, when she walked the runway of Philippine Fashion Week in drag.
Minty says her drag aesthetic is “hyper feminine” and that she is a fashion queen and a looks queen. She says that Drag Race Philippines is a way to show that she has talent and can be fierce on the runway.
Precious Paula Nicole
Hailing from Daet, Camarines Norte, 35-year-old Precious Paula Nicole has been in the drag scene for more than 11 years. She is a professional dancer and is also known for her comedy shticks and impersonation of divas such as Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Madonna and Regine Velasquez. Her drag name was borrowed from Paolo Ballesteros who used it in one of his television episodes. A star performer at O Bar, she is a mother to a host of other popular drag queens.
“My reputation as a drag queen is I always promote that we should look up to our golden lolas na nagsimula ng drag dito sa (grandmothers who started drag in the) Philippines,” she shares. “When I was starting sumasama na ako sa mga friends ko na nauna sa akin para bigyan ng tulong ang mga golden lolas natin na nawalan ng tahanan ngayon. At iyon po ang gusto ko pa rin ituro sa queens na bagong dumarating (I always joined my drag queen friends who started ahead of me to help out our golden gay grandmothers who lost their homes. And that is what I want new queens to learn about).”
She further says: “The misconception of being a drag queen, akala nila kami ay mga clown lang na dumarating sa buhay nila. Ang gusto ko na malaman nila na mayroon kaming feelings, may heart kami at may mga times na malaking struggle sa life naming na nagpapasaya kami ng tao habang may mga problema kaming hinaharap na personal (is that people think we are clowns. I want them to know that we have feelings, we have hearts and there are times that it’s a big struggle in our lives to entertainment people when we are facing our own personal problems).”
“My goal is to inspire people, share happiness and touch people’s lives,” says Precious.
From Calumpit, Bulacan, 25-year-old Prince create makeup transformations on social media. Before joining Drag Race Philippines, Prince was a social media strategist. Although into drag for only three years, she says that she has been doing it since a little kid, playing dress up.
“My drag style is very out-of-this-world, ‘extraterrestrial.’ I like being a creature because growing up I love video games. If I have to describe my drag in three words, that would be ‘never the usual’ because I am not a regular girl. I can pretty much do anything like from camp to glam, and everything that falls under that I can do it,” she says.
Prince is also one of the co-founders of Drag Playhouse PH and manages her own make-up and merchandise line.
Twenty-nine-year-old Turing from Cainta, Rizal, has been a professional drag performer for four years, performing in O-Bar. A Broadway fan and a theater kid who used to be a cheerleader in college, Turing is the only plus-size contestant, has openly discussed how drag has made her feel more comfortable in her skin, and is a strong advocate for body positivity.
“I want to present myself in a very artistic way. Drag has given me that platform to do what I want on stage, at the same time wear what I want and be what I want,” she says.
Twenty-five-year-old Viñas DeLuxe has been doing drag for seven years now. She started at 18 while studying at a university. She has a background in theater that helped harness her performance and comedy skills. Viñas owns a wig business and has built a strong social media presence. She is also in a drag group called the Divine Divas, which gained popularity during the pandemic lockdowns, mounting digital performances and live streams worldwide.
A respected figure in the Metro Manila drag scene, 34-year-old Xilhouete is the creative director and one of the owners of Nectar Nightclub. Hailing from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, she currently resides in Quezon City and is considered a drag mother of many queens, especially those who are regular performers at Nectar.
“I started really as a female impersonator and then eventually I transitioned to doing drag,” she relates. “Xilhouete’s personality is profound, feisty and meticulous. I’m well respected in this community not only because I’m a drag mother but because I live up to it.”
“This Drag Race Philippines platform will give me that huge opportunity to share the stories of the people who came before me — the female impersonators of the early ‘60s. This is a huge opportunity to tell their stories that they passed on to me,” she says.
Xilhouete emphasizes: “Gusto ko makita ninyo (I want you to see) what drag is. It’s not just visually entertaining but there is also depth in it, and if you would look closely and listen to each and every one of us, you would then begin to understand the culture of drag and the culture of the LGBTQ in the Philippines.”
These 12 queens are ready to awe audiences as Drag Race Philippines premieres on 17 August on Discovery+, HBO Go and WOW Presents Plus, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday thereafter. The spin-off show, Drag Race Philippines: Untucked, premieres on 19 August with new episodes every Friday. This is the first time for an international version to have Untucked companion series. Drag Race Philippines is produced in the Philippines by Fullhouse Asia Production Studios Inc., in conjunction with World of Wonder Productions Inc.
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