why it is a global phenomenon

why it is a global phenomenon

The American program, which has been a hit around the world for ten years, finally arrives in France, this Saturday on France TV Slash.

Sophisticated outfits, eccentric make-up, multicolored wigs… and deep voices: the curtain rises on a show of a new kind this Saturday on France TV Slash. The free platform will unveil at 8 p.m. the first episode of Drag Race Francea competition in which ten drag queens – men who dress up as women to perform on stage – will compete to become the “next great queen of French drag”.

This concept, a kind ofAmazing talent with queer sauce, is completely new in France. But it’s already a television phenomenon pretty much everywhere in the world, and a core of loyal fans have been clamoring for a French version for years. A look back at the success of a talent show that is unlike any other and has only grown in size over the past decade.

Concept from America

the adventure drag race was born in 2009 on the American cable channel Logo TV. The program, titled RuPaul’s Drag Race (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”, literally), is carried by RuPaul, arguably the world’s most famous drag queen. For create your character from drag queen he borrowed “two tracks from Cher, three tracks from Diana Ross, a dash of Dolly Parton and a little bit of David Bowie and James Brown. And a little bit of Bugs Bunny too”.

This model, actor and singer, now 61, has made a career across the Atlantic by dressing up as a woman to perform on stage in shows mixing music and humor. He created his own line of cosmetics, hosted a talk show and released several albums.

It was therefore with the aura of a star that he launched the program thirteen years ago, as host and president of the jury. Each week, the candidates compete in a series of tests. At the end of each episode, two of them find themselves on a ballot, and must compete in a “lip sync” – a lip sync, a typical exercise in the drag scene. The least convincing is eliminated.

By mixing artistic performances, comedy and bun creping, Rupaul’s Drag Race quickly won over many fans far beyond just LGBT audiences. Just look at the twenty Emmy Awards (the Oscars of television) that the program has won, and the world superstars who have made appearances on the show for one episode, as guest jurors: Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Gigi Hadid, Marc Jacobs…

Witnesses to the growing popularity of the show, the sums involved have continued to climb. In 2009, the winner of the first season, BeBe Zahara Benet, won a check for $20,000. When Willow Pill emerged victorious from season 14 last April, she walked away with $150,000, more than seven times that amount.

Global phenomenon

Already known around the world by connected fans, the program experienced a resurgence in notoriety when Netflix acquired the international broadcasting rights. Today, almost all of the seasons of the American show are available on the platform.

Such success is bound to be emulated. For ten years, adaptations have been emerging in the four corners of the globe. Rupaul’s Drag Race has (or had) its Canadian, Chilean, Filipino, Thai, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, English equivalent…

By creating a show for the general public featuring drag queens, and exporting it all over the world, RuPaul has also largely contributed to popularizing drag culture, long confined to the queer milieu, through shows that combine burlesque, music, humor and transformation. It’s probably no coincidence that, in recent years, drag shows have multiplied in Paris… where the stars of Rupaul’s Drag Race sometimes happened themselves.

Since 2017, the show Werq The World travels the world and brings together some of the most emblematic candidates of the program. He passed through France three times, in 2018, 2019 and 2022. Their last French performance took place at the Zenith in Paris on May 15.

A French RuPaul

The French version of Rupaul’s Drag Race is one of the most recent to emerge. One of the challenges was to find the right personality to become the French counterpart of the charismatic RuPaul. The choice of production fell on Karl Sanchez, alias Nicky Doll. Still little known to the general public, this drag queen made in Bouches-du-Rhônes occurs as far away as the United States. She is also the only French drag queen to have participated in Rupaul’s Drag Racein season 12, airing in 2020.

At his side two 100% gay-friendly personalities complete the jury. The lively animator and fashion specialist Daphné Burki and the singer Kiddy Smile. The ten candidates for this first season (La Big Bertha, La Briochée, Elips, La Grande Dame, La Kahena, Kam Hugh, Lolita Banana, Lova Ladiva, Paloma and Soa de Muse) were recently unveiled. See you tonight at 8 p.m., then every Thursday, for colorful parades, diva brawls and lip syncs “LÉ-GEN-DAIRES!”.

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