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Entertainment

Drag Den puts Filipino drag scene, LGBTQ+ community in international spotlight

Adam Laurena - The Philippine Star
Drag Den puts Filipino drag scene, LGBTQ+ community in international spotlight
Hosted by Manila Luzon, Drag Den Philippines premiered its first episode yesterday, Dec. 8, and is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The winner of the reality competition series will be crowned the first-ever Filipino Drag Supreme.
STAR / File

A special premiere of the first episode of Drag Den was formally shown to select audience members at TriNoma’s Cinema 7 in Quezon City last Dec. 6. Apart from that, the eight competing drag queens in the Philippine reality competition series were formally introduced to the public.

Aries Night, Barbie-Q, Lady Gagita, Maria Christina, Naia, O-A, Pura Luka Vega, and Shewarma were all fabulous in their fierce, jaw-dropping premiere night looks as they joined family, friends, fans of local drag, members of the press, and special celebrity guests in watching the pilot episode of the show, hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race legend Manila Luzon, who is known as the Drag Lord of the show.

Host Markki Stroem in My Delivery Girl character Bianca D.

Also present were film director Antoinette Jadaone, who serves as the show’s executive producer, Internet sensation and the show’s “Drag Runner” Sassa Gurl, beauty queen and the show’s “Drag Dealer” Nicole Cordoves, and Drag Den creator-director Rod Singh, who joined fans in screaming with delight over the fierceness, style, wit, and charm brought about by Drag Den’s first of many episodes.

Before the premiere began, host Markki Stroem, who was dragged up as her My Delivery Girl character Bianca D, asked the crew about what it was like creating the show and producing it behind the scenes.

Project 8 Projects is headed by Dan Villegas and Antoinette Jadaone

Antoinette showered Drag Den creator and director Rod with praises for the hard work she put towards laying the foundation of the original Filipino reality series.

“I have to give it to our creator Rod Singh, who was just the genius behind all this. Three years ago pa niya ’to nilapit sa amin sa Project 8 tapos naghahanap kami ng mag-pa-partner sa amin and nakita namin si Sir Erickson and Jeff sa Cornerstone hanggang tuloy-tuloy na nakahanap na kami ng bahay sa Prime Video,” she recalled. “It’s a really long journey and we’re happy that we’re finally streaming on Dec. 8.”

Celebrity couple Rico Blanco and Maris Racal attend the Drag Den launch.
DRAG DEN PHILIPPINES OFFICIAL SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS

Nicole, on the other hand, explained how Drag Den, which has a pageant-type format, is different from other pageants such as Miss Universe.

“Maraming kurot sa puso. Bibigat, maraming substance talaga na ma-ipe-presenta sa show na ’to. Also, sobrang sobrang saya, you will laugh and cry with all of us there,” she explained.

Rod expressed gratitude for the cast, crew, sponsors, and supporters of the show who have been behind Drag Den from its planning three years ago until its premiere and beyond.

“For all the things we’ve been through, gusto ko pasalamatan lahat ng taong nandito, mga supporters natin, mga supporters ng mga queens, mga friends natin sa industry, at sa mga sponsors natin,” she said. “Gusto ko rin pasalamatan ang Project 8 at ang Cornerstone na kasama ko since Day 1 sa paghahanap ng streaming platform sa Drag Den.”

Closing her speech, Rod reminded everyone to not only stream Drag Den but watch and tip the queens, who are part of the show.

“Stream our show, but also watch (our queens’) shows outside and tip them. Kailangan po nila ’yang mga tip. Thank you so much!” she told the audience.

Lastly, in a video message before the premiere episode, main host Manila placed the spotlight on how Drag Den is “uniquely Filipino” as the show is a product of Filipino production crews.

“(It) is something we can all be proud of as we shine a spotlight on the drag scene and the LGBTQ community here in the Philippines,” the drag icon shared. “Now, the Philippines is known around the world for our amazing entertainers: Musicians, comedians, dancers, and ngayon excited kami to bring another form of Filipino entertainment to the mainstream media: Drag.”

Moreover, Manila presses that, despite being part of Filipino culture, the true drag experience has remained an underground scene for far too long, and it changes with Drag Den.

“Lahat welcome no matter who you are, all types, all genders, all orientations. We welcome you to fall in love with drag,” she said.

After seeing her first Filipino drag show in a nightclub in Ortigas, Pasig, Manila Luzon made it a mission to give Filipino drag the attention it deserves.

“Ever since, I had the desire to bring more attention to Filipino drag. With the popularity of drag rising around the world, it is time that the Philippines creates something new; a drag entertainment we can be proud to call our own,” she said. “And since we, Filipinos live not just here in the Philippines but all over the world, including myself, we are so proud that everyone can watch Drag Den on Prime Video.”

In addition, Manila thanked the cast of the first season of Drag Den for allowing their beautiful selves to grace the show, as well as everyone who auditioned for the show.

“Thank you, ladies, for taking a huge risk and joining Drag Den. These b**ches have no idea what they’re getting themselves into but with big risk comes big rewards and I know it will pay off for them,” she expressed.

“I also want to thank everyone who auditioned for season 1 of Drag Den. We had so many people post their auditions on TikTok last year and it made it very, very difficult for all of us to narrow it all down to just eight. I hope everyone that auditioned will love the first season and I hope you consider auditioning for the next,” she added.

Manila also thanked the production companies Cornerstone Studios and Project 8 for believing in Drag Den and giving their support to turn the show into a reality.

“They’ve been working endlessly to make all of this happen. Their fearless commitment to producing something uniquely inclusive transcends beyond a television show. They know that representation matters. They know the challenges of making a series like this in the world today during these times and they know that there are people here in the Philippines who are ready for this,” she said.

“They know the impact we can have for the LGBT community here. They are our allies and they are fighting with us,” she further told the audience.

She also expressed her appreciation to Drag Den creator-director Rod for being at the helm of the show and for being a champion of the Filipino drag scene.

“Our award-winning direk Rod has been a champion of the Filipino drag scene and a powerful voice for the LGBTQ+ community here in the Philippines. Thank you so much, Rod, for trusting me to showcase Filipino drag to everyone around the world. I’m so proud to be part of your vision and your original creation,” Manila told Rod.

Lastly, Manila teased that, despite only being virtually present for the premiere of Drag Den, she will be back in the Philippines for the show’s grand finale.

“I know I’m not here physically with you tonight but I will be back in the Philippines for the grand finale when we crown the first-ever Filipino Drag Supreme. Welcome to Drag Den! Dragdagulan na!” she concluded her message.

Drag Den premiered its first episode on Dec. 8, and is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The winner of the reality competition series will be crowned the first-ever Filipino Drag Supreme.

NAIA

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