Thursday August 11, at the Café Beaubourg in Paris, shortly before 8 p.m. Hundreds of people crowd in front of the establishment and the queue stretches to Boulevard Sébastopol. Everyone came to attend the screening of the last episode of Drag Race Francewhich opposes three drag queens: La Grande Dame, Soa de Muse and Paloma. The fervor and enthusiasm of this rather young – but not exclusively – audience is almost palpable. For a bit, it feels like the projection of a World Cup final, a much more gay-friendly version.
Several screens have been installed inside and outside the establishment. The audience carefully follows this final, the last maxi-challenge, the last parade, the last lipsync [une épreuve de synchronisation labiale ou « playback » sur une chanson française] . When, after an hour, host Nicky Doll announces that Paloma has won the first edition of Drag Race Francethe crowd let its joy burst forth. Surrounded by her two runners-up, the drag-queen from Clermont-Ferrand savors her coronation and her new popularity live before tasting the joys of the crowd bath.
The Grande Dame remembers: “We joked with Soa and Paloma that it was going to end like the exit of the Attic with Loana. We hoped for it a little secretly and we got it. It was very beautiful to see. »
A season 2 in sight
The popularity of this adaptation of a hit American show seems to have gone beyond the LGBT+ community. On Twitter, Paloma is thus congratulated by Isabelle Rome, the minister in charge of Equality between women and men, Diversity and Equal opportunities, but also by Olivier Bianchi, the mayor of Clermont-Ferrand, and Stéphane Sitbon-Gomez, program director of France TV, who announces in the process that a season 2 will take place.
This last tweet shows that France Télévisions seems satisfied to have been the broadcaster of Drag race. Launched on the day of the Parisian LGBT+ Pride March, this first season was broadcast on the France TV Slash platform, with an online release every Thursday, then on France 2 on Saturdays at midnight.
Initially, France Télés had announced that only the first episode would be broadcast on the air. With 914,000 spectators (11.6% of the entire public, according to Médiamétrie), the channel changed its mind and broadcast the rest of the season in the third part of the evening. Ratings dropped considerably afterward, but that can probably be explained by the fact that fans weren’t waiting for Saturday night to check out the episode. Audience figures for France TV Slash have not yet been released.
If the success was there, it is because the show produced by Endemol and Shake Shake Shake kept its promises in terms of quality. The ten drag queens selected by the production ensured the show with often memorable performances, outfits that honored our reputation as a country of fashion and many emotional moments.
We remember in particular this incredible lipsync between Lolita Banana and La Big Bertha on Body of Yseult. The first, feeling rejected by the other candidates, completely shaved her hair on stage, before her competitor came to take her in her arms.
And now ?
While waiting for new drag queens to take over, the ten candidates intend to take advantage of their post-show notoriety. The entire cast, accompanied by the host Nicky Doll, leaves at the start of the school year for a tour in France and Belgium entitled Drag Race France live. It will begin with three shows at the Casino de Paris.
Each will then continue their career individually. Paloma will join season 5 of the series Balthazar on TF1. The Grande Dame, used to fashion shows, would like to have a radio column or do TV. “We are too eager to do Fort Boyard with Soa and Paloma”, she jokes. Soa de Muse, who can be found at the start of the school year in her cabaret in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, hopes to be able to perform in France and abroad.
Can the rest of the French drag community take advantage of the dynamic drag race ? In recent years, drag scenes have been developing all over France, in Bordeaux, Nice, etc. However, during the show, the candidates repeatedly mentioned the difficulties they had in making a living from their art.
Paloma wants to believe that things will get better. “I hope that the organizers of evenings, those who hire drag queens will consider us as intermittent workers, as artists and pay us properly. But it’s not going to be that simple. She adds: “We have to think about local drags. drag raceit’s very good, but it’s a very particular vision of drag, it’s a competition and drag is a lot of other things, there are a thousand other facets. »
In an interview, several participants in Drag Race France insisted on their desire not to pull the blanket too much at them. “I think it will really change the daily life of drag, says La Grande Dame. We were really at the origin of a discovery for a lot of people. We are going to be very well booked, very well paid, but our great fear is that the other girls will not be reassessed at their fair value. I have the feeling that we were quite militant in relation to all that and that we expressed quite clearly our desire to change things with regard to everyone and not only with regard to us. »
The “revolution” drag
Beyond the drag scene, can queens change society? During the final episode, Olivier Rousteing, artistic director of Balmain, who was guest judge, thus launched to Soa de Muse in particular and to the other queens that they were a “revolution” for France.
One of the strengths of this cast was its diversity, both in artistic terms and in terms of identity. A message of visibility addressed to the general population, but also to the drag community. To non-white drag queens who would find it difficult to assert themselves, Soa launches: “You have your place and if you are told that you don’t have your place, you tear everything up and you impose yourself. “Moreover, the drag queen whose parents are from Martinique, notes for example that” in Martinique, things are already moving! We don’t know because we’re not there, but there are plenty of queer people, there are plenty of artists. My dream will be to go there, with other people I already work with. The drag revolution has only just begun.