Dutch fans of the hit show RuPauls Drag Race cant beat their luck. The talent contest in which drag queens in frenzied outfits and with artificial make-up compete for the crown, comes with a Dutch spin-off. It is a big moment for the participants.
RuPauls Drag Race has been a household name in America for over ten years. The programme won nine Emmys and caused a revival of show transvestism worldwide. In addition, according to Philip Tijsma of COC Nederland, the programme carries a powerful message that appeals to lhbti youngsters. The drag queens have a positive story. Their message is: whatever happens to you, you can get over it, you can even become a world star
Just like in the American show, Drag Race Holland is all about the search for the new drag superstar. Participants compete against each other in dance and playback contests, cabaret performances and on the catwalk. According to the makers, the tone of the show is mainly focused on the positive and celebrating being different.
Patty Pam-Pam participates in the programme
This is as if I was asked to participate in the Olympic Games, says Henrique. He is one of ten participants under his stage name Miss Abby OMG. The quality of the looks and performances of RuPauls Drag Race are so high, and so is the Dutch version
Also for Boris, who participates as Miss Envy Peru, is participating in Drag Race, a dream come true. I followed the American programme from the very beginning. As I took more steps into the world of drag, I began to feel confident enough to participate myself
According to Boris, drag is much more than a costume party in which a man with a wig is singing in a brown café. Its a passion, I enjoy that transformation and the excitement every time I get ready for a drag performance
The queens receive reactions from all over the world to their participation in Drag Race Holland. These reactions are often very positive, but sometimes less so. Thats no fun, but Ive been in the business long enough to know that I dont have to pay attention to those negative reactions, says Pieter, who participates as Patty Pam-Pam. I hope that Drag Race Holland will also change this and that the new audience we reach will also get more respect for the drag phenomenon
The programme revolves around the search for a winner, but gradually the viewer gets to know the participants and their passion for drag. The outside world sees primarily the end product of creativity. But that creativity is also a way to process grief and to break stereotypes, says Rowan, who participates as Madame Madness.
She is the only bearded queen in the programme. Everyone has experienced similar struggles in their lives: coming out of the closet, being bullied, not accepting yourself. We dont have to explain that to each other. Everyone accepts each other as they are.
According to Brian, who participates as ChelseaBoy, the acceptance that participants have towards each other is the strength of the programme. When I was growing up, I was very much looking for someone to tell me that I could be myself. But there were almost no examples in the media with whom I could identify. Now that that platform is there, I feel responsible to be that example for the younger generation
Brian does that by replying carefully to anyone who sends him a personal message via Instagram. I want to make people feel that they are being seen, just as I used to like to be seen. Thats why Drag Race Holland is more than an entertainment programme, its a safe space for viewers
The Dutch version is presented by Fred van Leer. But that doesnt mean that the spiritual father of the programme is far away. RuPaul calls in via a video link to address the candidates. According to the candidates this makes the participation extra special. From Friday Drag Race Holland can be seen via Videoland.