Drag queens don't only appear on French TV

Drag queens don’t only appear on French TV

MEDIA – In the middle of the Fête de la Musique concert on France 2, in the latest issue ofWe are liveon the set of Daily and of It’s up to you… It took time, but here it is: drag queens are (finally) present on French television. And it’s only going to go forward.

This Saturday, June 25, the symbolic date of the Pride march in Paris, starts Drag Race Francethe long-awaited French adaptation of the American competition RuPaul’s Drag Race, already fourteen seasons on the clock. The goal here is the same: the competitors will have to compete in events combining singing, comedy, dancing and modeling so that there is only one left.

In parallel with its retransmission on France 2 in the second part of the evening, the first episode will be broadcast on France.tv Slash from 8 p.m., then it will be every Thursday at this time on the digital platform of the public service.

This Saturday, they are ten to embark on the adventure. Among them, six already have something in common. La Big Bertha, Kahena, Lolita Banana, Paloma, La Grande Dame and Kam Hugh have the same agent. It’s the Pop Models agency. “It’s a good score”, tell us its managers, Max Bregerie and Mathieu Quadri, who have nine drag queens in their stable.

Check out the trailer below Drag Race France:

In the world of cinema, music, modeling, but also theater or books, it is common to have an agent. In France, in the drag sector, it is less so. “We realized that the drag queens weren’t surrounded at all, that they were very alone”, whispers one of the bosses of Pop Models. The two men launched their agency last January. “We realized that drag was reaching an increasingly large audience, they explain. We felt something bubbling.”

Growing demand

For several years, and in particular with the arrival of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix, drag queens are no longer confined to bars or gay parties. Miss Fame and Violet Chachki are in the front row of all parades. Conchita Wurst, on Jean-Paul Gaultier’s podium. Cookie Cunty, she is the heroine of a film whose release is scheduled for next November at the cinema. On the small screen, Leona Winter took part in the reality tv angelsin 2020. And in 2019, More beautiful life even incorporated a drag queen into its character gallery.

Pop Models has only been around for a few months and yet “there hasn’t really been a moment of weakness, its founders tell us. We are on an upward slope.” The spread of Drag Race France can it further increase activity? “We hope so”, they argue. Today, their client list consists mainly of companies. What they want is to book drag queens to animate public events, but also internally.

This includes brand or product launches and partnerships with retailers. Kam Hugh has collaborated with Sephora and Nyx Cosmetics. The Grande Dame recently posed and paraded for Jean Paul Gaultier. As for Lolita Banana, she is on a Lime bike in an advertisement for Uber’s two-wheelers. Minima Gesté and Alice Psycho hosted a bingo drag at Google, along with Mademoiselle Kiss.

Make drag a profession

Customer demand is growing. It is also on the side of those who want to join the agency. “These are artists who have built everything on their own and who now want to evolve in larger structures, concedes Max Bregerie. What we want is for them to be able to devote themselves to the artistic part and offload the relationship with the clients, such as the contractual negotiations that we take care of.”

Mathieu Quadri adds: “With the magnitude of the phenomenon, it’s difficult to face all of this alone. We, our job, is in a way to ensure the transition for those who want to make drag their profession, not only in the evenings and on weekends.

For the Parisian drag queen Sciatique, this professionalization is a good thing. It allows “to get event organizers used to paying people and this, via legal structures, she assures us. The next step will be the day when drags can be intermittent from the show. It is still very rare today. Me, typically I am paid by invoice.”

Working “with the rules of 2022”

Drag is not just jokes, lip sync or beautiful dresses. It is a committed and political art, concerned with deconstructing gender issues. Its foray into mainstream spheres, such as television or advertising, raises questions about standardization. Could this distort the point?

According to Catherine Pine O’Noir, a very popular drag queen in the capital, it’s no. “You can do an ad for a big brand one day and the next day you go to a show in a small bar that doesn’t brew a lot of money in the depths of Paris. The two are cumulative and must be balanced in your career, she believes. Plus, doing drag costs money [en termes de cosmétiques, de costumes ou de transports, ndlr]. You may be anti-capitalist, but you have to work with the rules of the world of 2022, a world in which we all want to earn money. Afterwards, it’s up to you to see what you do with your money.

The “mainstreamization” of drag is good. “Going to meet a straight audience or the uninitiated means educating other people outside the LGBT+ sphere on our issues, in terms of sexism, homophobia, transphobia… If tomorrow, a guy at the coffee machine takes one of his colleagues on a racist ‘joke’ because he understood that during one of my performances, I believe that I have achieved something on my small scale”, she continues.

“There is no bad publicity”

A point of view shared by Sciatique, according to whom “the art of drag is to perform the genre. So even in the art of performance, there is a social deconstruction. There is no bad publicity.” However, she does not accept all proposals, especially when you want to book her for private events on her own. “A drag queen, it clashes. If tomorrow I go to a party where no one is expecting me, people will wonder why I’m here,” she confides. It is then nothing fun and the non-response of the guests can be very badly lived.

Requests are sometimes mismatched. “In the same way, she continues, I refused to do the first part of a concert in a large Parisian music hall. The artist did not know me. The organizers had asked me to do a lip sync on a song of their choice. You can’t do everything in lip sync. There are springs.”

At Pop Models, we take all the opportunities, we are told, but there is no question of imposing anything on the talents. “We respect 100% what they want to do and what they offer us according to the image they want to develop”, assure us its managers.

For the time being, they do not derive any profit from their business. “It’s an investment in terms of money and time, they point out. We are not at all on a financial dynamic. We are on the accompaniment so that they explode. The lights are green. The race has started.

See also on The HuffPost: Appeared as a drag queen on TV, this sanctioned American pastor

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