My introduction to drag as an art form was a YouTube video of Katya Zamolodchikova, a RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni. Her whole shtick as a Russian bisexual hustler, paired with her self-deprecating humor, captivated me so much that after seeing her video, I was binge-watching the show, episode after episode, series after series.
I got so deep into the Drag Race fever, I was punctuating my sentences with “Period!” and hyping my friends up with “Yas, mamwa!” When I’d get anxious over something, I would mentally mutter Jinkx Monsoon's “Water off a duck’s back” as if it was a protective armor against anything negative that would come my way. It has dominated my life to the point that I’m repeating iconic reads (playful banter and insults) in my head throughout the day simply because reading is, what? Fundamental.
That’s why when the announcement for Drag Race Philippines and Drag Den came, I was beyond excited. I was overcome with the all-too-familiar Pinoy pride, the same pride I felt when I first saw Manila Luzon and Jiggly Caliente in the original franchise. Even though my access to the local drag scene as a probinsyano is close to non-existent, I knew in my heart that this was a long overdue moment for a community that was once pushed to our society’s periphery.
Now it’s thriving more than ever, and it will continue to do so with the new generation of drag queens who are sashaying their way into the world of drag. Young STAR was lucky enough to talk to some of them.
For Kieth, drag is a way to reclaim their power. Even though they usually don a femme fatale-esque look, they admit that fear has held them back from showcasing their talent. However, after going through so much, like being bullied for their femininity and losing their father, they realized that there is nothing to fear anymore—well, except looking ugly in drag.
Kieth’s drag is all about their imagination, which is at the core of every look they design. Using TikTok as their primary platform, Kieth, as @kitzyy0, posts videos showcasing their colorful mugs and snatched outfits. In most of their content, they are strutting in high heels and with an incredibly cinched waist à la Violet Chachki.
When asked if this is something they wish to do full-time, however, Kieth responds with a no. Although they dream to be known for their drag and its beauty, they ultimately want to be a public servant.
Aubrey Rue describes her drag as a form of self-expression with a touch of sexiness and comedy. Although she isn’t the “splits and death-drop” kind of girl, she’s your go-to if you’re looking for some lip action.
Despite not being out yet to her parents, she’s still bravely pursuing the art form because it allows her to show her most authentic self—one without the inhibitions and fears haunting her out of drag. She’s come a long way from the thirsty wigs, meh outfits, and barely painted face; she’s now slaying a more realized fantasy.
In our conversation, she tells me that it was the stories of the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race that ignited her passion for drag. She recalls watching the fifth season of the show (proudly a team Jinkx) and connecting with their stories. It lit a fire inside her.
Someday, Aubrey wishes to do drag full-time and even compete on Drag Den or Drag Race Philippines. But for now, she wants to finish her college degree and save up to support her drag, because, if she’s being honest, drag is really expensive.
Whenever she’s in drag, Fique Luxxure feels like she’s the main character, and who can blame her?
But while drag, for her, is everything, she’s having a rough time with it. Coming from Albay, where drag as an industry is not yet well established, pursuing it full-time is almost impossible. So even though performing for a crowd is her passion, she’s setting it aside, for now, to wait for other opportunities.
It was only November of last year when she started her drag journey, but performing and impersonating have been her passion even when she was a kid. After being pushed by a friend, she joined Albay Young Farmers Program’s Drag Race Albay—a region-wide competition aimed at helping farmers who were affected by the recent typhoon Paeng. Since then, Fique has performed at Eruption, one of the biggest local bars and clubs in the region.
Despite the difficulties and challenges she’s facing, she doesn’t let them dampen her spirit. According to her, she’ll be back in the race.
Phoebe Cafena’s been doing drag for more than a year now, and she’s been on television twice. She appeared as one of the idol hopefuls in the latest season of Idol Philippines and as one of the Songbayanans in Vice Ganda’s Everybody, Sing! Since then, she’s been working as a drag performer at Empire Nightclub in Quezon City.
The first time she did drag, Phoebe recalls being moved to tears out of sheer happiness. She tells me that seeing herself in her girl version was an “extremely amazing” experience. Luckily, her family, friends, and boyfriend have been very supportive of her, and this has been her source of motivation in achieving her goals. If there’s any hindrance to her career as a drag artist, it’s lack of equipment, since according to her, drag is an investment.
Although already performing in a nightclub, Phoebe’s ultimate dream is to become a fashion designer with her own couture brand. And with the support system she has, she has no plans of stopping and giving up.