Saturday evening, their life will change. At 8 p.m., the first episode of Drag Race France will be posted on France TV Slash and simultaneously available abroad via the WOW Presents Plus platform. For the ten candidates for this drag-queen competition, there will necessarily be a before and an after.
Like their counterparts in the fourteen seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race and its ten adaptations (in Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Thailand…), these queens of French nights will gain notoriety in a dazzling way. A tour of France is already planned for the fall and their presence at RuPaul’s Drag Con 2023 in London, a convention where fans tumble by the thousands, has already been announced.
“We don’t know what tsunami it’s going to be”
“Everyone tells us it’s going to be huge, but we don’t yet know what a tsunami it’s going to be. I take things as they come ”, delays Lolita Banana, crossed at the beginning of June during the press conference. The ten lucky winners were selected from 450 applications. “We didn’t expect so much,” admits Nicolas Missoffre, producer at Endemol. Selection criteria ? “What they represent, their level of drag, where they are, where they want to go, their motivations…”
“We each come from backgrounds, from various scenes, we started at different times,” says Lova Ladiva, one of the candidates who, by making her Toulouse accent sing, salutes the eclecticism of the cast. There are those who have styled their first wigs recently, inspired by the phenomenon drag racethose who are used to performing in cabarets, such as Madame Arthur or La Bouche, those who host brunches on Sundays or shine in the proliferation of drag shows in Paris or elsewhere, those who rely on humor and those who favor the look…
“We know that we are not going to pass for clowns”
“It will give good visibility to drag culture, applauds Soa of Muse. The production teams had inquired, knew the language, the culture… They had done the work to understand our art. “We felt respected in our profession. We know that we are not going to pass for clowns, ”abounds La Kahena. Kam Hugh echoes them: “We weren’t the turkeys of the farce. “We made sure that this program was made by the LGBT+ community, so that we knew what we were talking about,” confirms Raphaël Cioffi, at the helm of Drag Race France. The show is thus awaited with great impatience by a legion of LGBT fans, its main target.
Alexandra Redde-Amiel, the entertainment director of France Télévisions, hopes that this adaptation Made in France will resonate with a wider, neophyte audience. “Bringing popular culture to those who make it and those who don’t know it is our public service mission,” she says. The ten candidates have already appeared on France 2, in We are live beginning of June, then on the stage of The music festival in Montpellier on Tuesday, and the first episode of Drag Race France will exceptionally be broadcast on Saturday at 11:25 p.m. on the same channel.
“It stirs, it asks questions and that’s very good”
What to seduce people who know nothing of the drag universe and to sweep away their possible prejudices? “We’re not trying to conquer them, we’ve been here for a long time,” says Muse’s Soa. We’re not here to knock on your door like Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you’re interested, so much the better, if you’re not interested, you change the program. There are plenty of people who will like it, others won’t, it stirs up, it asks questions and that’s very good. »
“Hyper impressed by all the candidates”, Kiddy Smile, who will officiate in the jury, insists on the fact that it is about a “very important program”. Daphné Bürki, another permanent juror of Drag Race Franceadvises watching the show “as a family”: “I have a grown-up teenager whom the show has helped a lot. [Cela peut être utile]especially at this time when we are trying to find our identity, to accept ourselves, ”she says.
“We will be able to be role models for young people who will be able to find themselves in us and say to themselves: “Ah but it exists! We also have this possibility”. It is important, this discovery, in this culture which is ours”, estimates La Kahena. “Drag is a profession, an art. We’re here to entertain people, and also to open their eyes to questions that they don’t necessarily ask themselves in everyday life, to subjects that can shake them up,” adds Paloma. The program is also a regular opportunity for the participants to discuss personal themes, to recount their journeys, the trials they have overcome, the discrimination they have experienced and face.
“It’s true that these are the Olympics of drag”
“We didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Paf! I’m going to do drag.’ There is always a story that leads to that, ”emphasizes La Grande Dame. “Behind the sequins and under our wigs we are human beings with all our differences and our emotions that make up the diversity and beauty of the queer community”, pleads La Briochée. “I myself learned a lot of things thanks to my sisters. We all need education at one time or another, personal awareness”, explains La Big Bertha who insists on the double function “educational and entertaining” of Drag Race France. Because, despite the good-natured and sisterly spirit, it is still a competition.
“It’s a game to watch, but it’s Survivor to live”, laughs Nicky Doll, who will host the show and knows what she is talking about since she participated in the twelfth season of the American version two years ago. “It’s true that these are the Olympics of drag. It was the best WeightWatchers of my life: I lost 9 kg during filming! “, slides La Big Bertha. “It was a real race, continues Lolita Banana. Of course we know that the cameras are there, but the fatigue and the pressure are so strong that after a while you don’t care about the cameras. “These drag queens will have to get used to: they have not finished seeing the goals riveted on them.