Paloma, figurehead of the first season of “Drag Race France”.
TELEVISION – They were ten to embark on the adventure. This Thursday, August 4, they will only be three. The three big finalists of the first edition of Drag Race Francehexagonal adaptation of the American competition RuPaul’s Drag Race broadcast since June 25, every Thursday evening on the France.tv Slash digital platform and on France 2 every Saturday, after Fort Boyard.
The competition, during which drag queens compete in events combining singing, theater, dance and modeling, has nothing to envy to its big American sister. From week to week, she proved to be just as entertaining, funny, moving and concerned with defending the interests and diversity of French drag. And this, without ignoring the strong messages of self-acceptance.
Among the strong personalities of this season, one of them has been able to pull out of the game. It’s Paloma. An outstanding imitator of Fanny Ardant (and of Ludovine de La Rochère in secret), the queen of comedy has also proven to be a fierce competitor on the catwalk, as evidenced by her interpretation of a sketch by the famous fashion illustrator Erté for the Haute Couture fashion show.
Paloma doesn’t have her tongue in her pocket. Especially, when it comes to remembering that the art of drag is not just about rhinestones and glitter, or defending the issues that cross the LGBT + community The HuffPost interviewed her.
The HuffPost : In some of the interviews you have given since the launch of Drag Race Franceyou talk about the art of drag as a political act. What do you mean by that?
Paloma: From the moment I risk getting my ass kicked by wearing stilettos, a wig and make-up in the street, it’s a political act. Drag is above all an art that deconstructs society, a society that has been built according to heterosexual norms. Our art is to deconstruct gender. I myself have felt the pressure of having to be a manly boy, when I am not. I still exist in society. It’s important to open doors for the next generation, queer or not.
As long as there is homophobia and people who insult us in the street or on social networks, there will be a need for drag queens and drag kings to change things.
The Huff Post: The presence in government of Caroline Cayeux, who has previously made remarks against marriage for all, has sparked an outcry. What do you think ?
Paloma: It just shows that the current government, which claims to be progressive, is in fact carrying out the conservative policy of François Fillon, but in disguise. The Manif pour tous, even if it has the right to exist in the public space, opposes laws that have been debated and passed, such as marriage for all and PMA for all. What they want is to question things previously validated by the government. I find it very contradictory on the part of Emmanuel Macron to see her, today, by his side.
Moreover, when Caroline Cayeux talks about ” These people “I want to remind him that ” These people “they are also government voters, they are voters, people who count, who pay their taxes and therefore their salary. That it does not exclude us from the public debate. We are here and there are many of us.
The Huff Post: The other current news is the monkeypox epidemic. In the space of a few weeks, the circulation of the virus has continued to progress to reach more than 1,800 cases in France. Men who have sex with men represent 96% of these cases. Aides, Sidaction and Acte-Up deplore a lack of support for the epidemic by the public authorities. Is that a feeling you share?
Paloma: Exactly. When the Covid arrived, there was general panic. The nothing. When I went to get vaccinated, the doctors made it clear to me that they would not have enough doses for everyone, but on top of that, no one had heard of what was happening. passed. No one outside of the LGBT+ community knows about it.
The government puts a bell on a disease. The message he sends us is to manage internally. However, it is a disease that can have serious repercussions if it is not well taken care of. [elle peut s’avérer douloureuse et créer des complications, notamment chez les enfants, les femmes enceintes, et les personnes vivant avec le VIH, ndlr].
I find this to be indicative of what is called pinkwashing. We like to bring queer people into the media and into political debate. But, when it comes to really taking an interest in our problems, there is no one left. It lets us understand that we, as gays, lesbians, bis or trans, we are still excluded from this society. there are people “normal” and there is us. We have to stop thinking of ourselves as a minority.
The Huff Post: Along with stigma, crimes and offenses targeting LGBT+ people have increased by 12% compared to 2019, according to SOS Homophobia, in France. Do you feel safe?
Paloma : Following the vote on the law for PMA for all, in 2021, the Manif pour tous organized a mobilization to challenge. I, who demonstrate very little, went to the counter-demonstration organized by queer people. We were 70 to break everything. Among us, many harmless young people with inclusive flags. Result: we were gassed and immobilized on the ground by the police. Some were even taken into custody.
My vision may be truncated because I live in Paris. Here, many queer people are not afraid to walk down the street with blue hair or manicured nails. We live in a cosmopolitan city. People don’t care. Where I come from, Clermont-Ferrand, there was no queer place at the time. In my high school, I was the only one to say that I was gay. If I go around the people I was with in high school at the time, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a package has come out.
However, since Drag Race France came out, I receive dozens of messages every day from kids thanking me for starting to talk about their homosexuality around them. Still, as long as there is still fear to reveal oneself, to come out of the closet, it is that everything is not settled.
The Huff Post: So yes, screen representation isn’t everything, but is it important to you?
Paloma: I have the feeling that with the other candidates of Drag Race Francewe are the first queer people to occupy this niche on television. Certainly, we have had openly homosexual TV hosts for a long time, like Laurent Ruquier or Olivier Minne, but they have not often positioned themselves on these questions, if ever. Conversely, those we can see on screen sometimes hit us, like Matthieu Delormeau [le chroniqueur de TPMP a notamment été critiqué en 2021 pour avoir tenu des propos homophobes à l’encontre de Bilal Hassani, ndlr].
We need another representation, positive images, a diversified discourse with different personalities, and not just clichés. And that’s what drag race brought. We each bring back in our own way a vision of the spectrum, which is obviously not fully represented. For example, La brioche is a trans woman. She is pansexual, in a relationship with a woman. It brings up a whole bunch of questions about gender and sexuality. Muse’s Soa defines herself as non-binary, she doesn’t want to be defined by one gender or another. She is not gendered either. Here, we bring different discourses.
The Huff Post: Is there an interest in seeing this program on public service?
Paloma: Yes, what’s more on France 2. We’re still talking about a channel whose group broadcasts Louis the Brocante. It’s a big step forward. It reaches a wide audience, not just LGBT+ viewers I got a message from a woman. She wrote to me to tell me that she had never been interested in what drag was until then. She tells me that she finds us all impressive, both for our talents and the resources we possess. She’s not the only one. I receive a number of testimonials telling me that they watch the show as a couple or as a family with their children. The spread of drag raceit’s a real blow in the anthill.
The Huff Post: The hearings of drag race France are good and the returns, too. Doesn’t that show that viewers are ready for other forms of entertainment?
Paloma: We are not on a reality show where people are swinging glasses of water in the face. It’s not The angels of reality TV. It does not correspond to the classic codes of French entertainment. There are real moments of emotion, humor and lightness. And it raises real social issues [comme la séropositivité de Lolita Banana, l’agression homophobe de La Grande Dame, la réception du coming out chez les proches, ndlr].
Me, I come from the worlds of theater and cinema and I observed something there. When a program is successful, we continue to produce it without asking questions. Really lame shows have been produced for years. People watch. So the producers think that’s what people want to see and don’t want to watch anything else. And I don’t agree with that. You write a slightly better script, people will still watch. When we improve things, people are happy because we stop taking them for idiots.
See also on The HuffPost : Appeared as a drag queen on TV, this sanctioned American pastor