drag queens

Sharing spotlight: How ‘Drag Race PH’ season 2 queens feel about drag scene boom

Amanda T. Lago

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Sharing spotlight: How ‘Drag Race PH’ season 2 queens feel about drag scene boom

PREMIERE. The 'Drag Race Philippines' season two cast attends the viewing party ahead of the show's premiere.

Courtesy of HBO Go

The drag competition officially started its engines on August 2

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine drag has been having a moment. Along with the release of two new drag reality shows, drag venues popping up left and right, new queens entering the scene, and a growing appreciation for the art form, the local drag scene has never been more alive.

Even more so now that the second season of Drag Race Philippines has hit the screens. Season 2 debuted its first episode on HBO Go on August 2, introducing fans to a new set of queens (just six of the 12 for now) sharing more polished looks and a more nuanced take on the art form. 

Appearing in episode one were Arizona Brandy, Tiny Deluxe, Captivating Katkat, M1ss Jade So, Nicole Pardaux, and Matilduh. They will eventually be joined by fellow competitors Deedee Marié Holliday, Veruschka Levels, Bernie, ÖV Cunt, Astrid Mercury, and Hana Beshie.

Clearly the drag boom has had quite the impact on the artists themselves – and it’s a welcome thing for the most part – though in a scene that used to have only one or two standout names, more and more artists are catching the spotlight.

For me, kasi nagoboom na, actually dumadami na yung mga drag queens, which is siyempre, minsan na-ano natin na ‘hala ang dami nang competition,’ so parang naiisip mo na kailangan mas bongga pa ako,” Arizona said.

Pero ang good side kasi nun is,ang ibig sabihin lang na dumadami na ang drag queens, ang ibig sabihin lang, mas nagiging mainstream na yung pagddrag, which is also a good thing,” she added.

(It’s because it’s booming. Actually, there are more drag queens. Which is…of course, sometimes we’re like,  ‘oh, there’s a lot of competition.’ So you think that you need to stand out more.  But the good side of that is…  It just means that there are more drag queens. It just means that it’s becoming more mainstream, which is also a good thing.)

Veruschka echoed the sentiment. “I didn’t really like it because there’s too much saturation already. I want to be special,” she admitted. “But I’m also very happy that the drag community has been seen a lot.” 

“We have been at the forefront of fighting our rights,  and we have been the safe space of a lot of gays going to the club. So I am very happy in a big perspective that we’re in the mainstream,” she said.

For Deedee and Katkat, who are veterans in the industry, it’s about time that their work is given attention.

“I’m super happy because this is the moment na pinaka-aantay namin (that we’ve been waiting for). For my 22 years in drag, this is the moment that we’ve been waiting for. For us to have a spotlight.  For us to be known in the mainstream.  For us to be known by more people.  Because this is what has really motivated us as young queens. So we’re very thankful and super happy na nakikita na kami and narerecognize (that now we can be seen and recognized),” Katkat said.

And as Deedee pointed out, it isn’t just the queens’ work that gets recognized, but the work of the artists who help them.

“I am glad that drag has finally gotten the spotlight…And it’s not just about being glamorous.  There are people behind these glamazons that you see. And it’s finally being given the attention that it deserves,” she said.

As a veteran queen, she welcomes the fact that more and more artists are doing drag. 

“I’m very happy that there are young queens who are popping left and right.  Because when I was starting, I had no one. I was alone,” she said. “And right now, these young queens have these fabulous goddesses to look up to. I’m just glad that me being an older queen, I am able to somehow support them in their journey and make it easier for them.”

For the queens, the growth of the scene doesn’t just benefit them, but the entire LGBTQIA+ community.

“It is also like raising awareness from the stories and struggles of LGBT individuals,” said M1ss Jade So, who along with Katkat and Bernie, represent trans women. “By that, people would be able to understand and acknowledge the rights we deserve.”

Since umusbong ang drag scene, ang dami ring stories ng each person. (Since the drag scene boomed, there are a lot of different stories from each person),” Matilduh added.

“So, having the drag scene in the mainstream, parang mas nakikila or nalalaman ng mas maraming tao yung iba ibang stories ng LGBTQIA+ community. (It’s like, a lot of people would be able to understand the stories. The different stories of the LGBTQIA+ community),” she said.

As Hana Beshie pointed out, the rising interest in drag shows that audiences are at least becoming more open-minded.

For me naman, sobrang nakakakilig na ang dami nang drag queens, mga drag artists, kasi it means na ang dami nang nakakagets ng genderplay at hindi siya dapat seryosohin,” she said. “For me it means na progresibo na yung ano natin, yung mga tao sa paligid.” 

(I’m so happy that there are a lot of drag queens, a lot of drag artists.  Because it means that there are a lot of people who get the genderplay.  And it shouldn’t be taken so seriously. And for me, it means that we’re becoming more progressive, the people around us.)

With Drag Race Philippines season 2 promising another round of the drama, excitement, and tea that has kept drag fans hooked, it seems the drag scene is headed for another peak, and it’ll only get bigger, grander, and crazier from here.

Drag Race Philippines season 2 airs every Wednesday on HBO Go. – Rappler.com

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.