‘Winning Won’t Make You Memorable’: Drag Race UK Versus The World Queens Sharpen Their Swords

B.aga Chipz is having afternoon tea and teaching British slang to her international drag queen co-stars. “Do you know what ‘dog bites’ means? minger? Do you know Minger? Drag Race Thailand star Pangina Heals raises her hand in excitement. “I know this one. It means you’re ugly.

This intellectual exchange of cultural ideas perfectly sets the tone for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. the World, a new spin-off series starting on the newly relaunched BBC Three. like the first drag race series in which queens of different international versions compete together, it has the fast-paced and excitable tone of a French field trip (albeit one organized by the Instagram page LoveOfHuns). “They didn’t even know what space meant,” Baga says of Zoom, sounding genuinely horrified. “Then the next thing you know, you have [US queen] Mo Heart walking around the room saying that people are spacers.”

yes normal drag race it’s “the drag olympics”, UK vs the world it’s some sort of intergalactic tournament that the rest of us mere mortals are lucky enough to watch for fun. For the first time, contestants from the various international competitions drag race The franchises compete against each other to be named “Queen of the World”. We have UK (Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, Cheryl Hole), US (Jujubee, Mo Heart), Canada (Jimbo, Lemon), Netherlands (Janey Jacké) and Thailand (Pangina Heals).

Belfast-born Blu describes the group of contestants as “fan favourites” – popular queens who missed out on their respective crowns in their international versions. Returning to the show meant an opportunity not only to compete against the crème-de-la-crème of the franchise, but also to learn from each other. “The Good Book says that iron sharpens iron. So just to be close [the other queens], I feel like I’m a bad bitch,” says the season 10 star and all stars 4 finalist Mo (or the artist formerly known as Monique Heart). “I feel like I’m the grand dame.”

When the queens entered the Werk Room, they had no idea how the format would play out or who they would be competing against (although Mo admits to checking the Reddit rumors beforehand, just in case). With so many unknowns swirling around, there was at least some sense of “familiarity” for the three UK queens. They not only had each other, but they competed at home. Conjuring up an impeccable simile, self-proclaimed Essex diva Cheryl likens it to “going to your grandmother’s house: the cups are in this cupboard, the spoons are in there, so you just get down to business and make a nice cup. .. I think it gave me a lot more confidence because we didn’t have to travel [and] We weren’t going to go into uncharted territory.”

When you’ve already competed on the show, the return comes with expectations of better outfits, honed skills, and the determination to prove yourself. “You do a lot of dragging after being in drag racesays Jimbo, who is from London, Ontario. “I was really able to up my makeup game and start to bring to the surface all of those things that I wanted to show off that I didn’t necessarily have the skills to do before.” This time, Cheryl says, “they know how to play the game,” but that brings its own challenges. As Janey points out, only queens from the UK and US have been judged by RuPaul and Visage before. These titans of the drag world have told them how to improve; if they haven’t, there will be problems. the queens of Canada Drag Race Y Drag Race NetherlandsThey, in theory, have a chance to impress Ru in person for the first time.

But if those girls have a “clean slate” to begin with, Pangina’s is so spotless it’s a bit disconcerting. The queen did not compete in Drag Race Thailand, but has co-hosted the show and is part of the judging panel. For the other contestants, his arrival indicated that this was not going to be an easy road. “Pangina walked in the door and I was like, ‘This name is so familiar,’” Lemon remembers. “And then I realized, ‘Oh fuck, this girl is the host.'” For Pangina herself, it is something of a double-edged sword. She doesn’t have an ego over the competition and came in with a genuine desire to get “as much constructive criticism as I can to become a better drag queen.” But there’s also “more pressure, because a lot of people just said, ‘If you do it wrong, you’re the host.’ How dare you have the right to judge someone?’”

Pangina Heals, host of ‘Drag Race Thailand’

(BBC/Wonderland/Guy Levy)

The furthest thing from the Pangina experience you can get is Jujubee. Call it what you want: drag race royalty, legend, always the maid of honor but never the bride. When Juju first appeared in the blurry and slightly shabby second season back in 2010, I had no idea she’d be back for two. All the stars seasons and UK vs the world. He has never placed outside the top three, but he hasn’t won either. “You would honestly think I have the upper hand because I’ve done it many times and a relationship is building between Ru and Michelle, right?” she says. “It’s not that. It’s just as scary, it feels like the first time, and Ru has a knack for making sure you have no idea how things are going to go.” She laughs. “I think he likes to play these games with us.”

In theory, all contestants should be treated equally by the judges. But in the outside world, it’s not such a level playing field. As she tucks a fourth season under her rhinestone belt, Jujubee has amassed 1.1 million Instagram followers, while someone like Janey has fewer than 100,000. “With Drag Race Netherlands being in Dutch with subtitles, it’s hard for people to watch a bit,” he says. “Because we’re a very small country…people look at it and think, ‘Oh, it’s cute but it’s very small’ or ‘It’s very specialized’…so it’s fun to go full throttle,” he says. with a laugh

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Jujubee returns for her fourth season of ‘Drag Race’

(BBC/Wonderland/Guy Levy)

Most of the queens have worked together on the live circuit, where they have grown accustomed to each other’s cultural differences. But making television is a completely different ball game. How do you teach viewers about your country, while still being universal? Which celebrity do you choose to personify in Snatch Game, striking the balance between someone the audience will know and Ru who finds it funny? And most important of all, how many of the mid-nineties X Factor What references can Baga Chipz make about the eight episodes? “Obviously we all want to win and stuff, but that’s not my number one goal when I follow drag race,” she says. “I’m very, ‘Let’s make some fucking brilliant TV.’ Winning won’t make you memorable, it’s what you do on the show.”

As the franchises came together, opportunities arose to learn about drag scenes beyond their own. “There’s a lot going on in these different countries that are so different to us in the UK – laws, restrictions, how you walk down the street – so it’s great to hear everyone’s stories,” says Cheryl. “We have all been on different trips [over] these last ones for many years that we have been in this pandemic, but you know what? I am so excited for all of these stories to be shared with the world.”

Fortunately, the queens of the United Kingdom are convinced that British culture translates well in an international world, drag race-audience obsessed. “People have seen [Drag Race UK] and he connected with us, we went in and became friends,” says Blu. “It was a really fun experience, and even though there were cultural differences, we always meant well with our humor, whether it was a little somber or not,” says Cheryl. “I think that always comes across: We’re not nasty people.” We are just here to have fun. I think that’s a big part of British drag humour.” She laughs. “Yes, because we are here to have a good time Y a long time.”

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Versus The World’ begins Tuesday, February 1 at 9pm on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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