MANILA — Instead of the glamorous shows in bars, "Drag Den Philippines" brought its viewing party to a barangay in Quezon City with an aim to reach the masses, the show's director Rod Singh said Tuesday.
For their fourth episode, the cast performed for free and led a contest for the queer community.
Show director Rod Singh told ABS-CBN News that she wanted to bring the culture of drag to the streets. She said that this is close to home as some drag artists started as contestants in barangay beauty pageants.
"'Yung vision ko naman for 'Drag Den' is for it to live beyond the TV show. 'Drag Den' as a show naman kasi ay para talaga ma-reintroduce ang drag while also highlighting the uniqueness and nuances of Pinoy drag. So part talaga ng plans ko noon pa na sana maibalik namin sa baranggayan ang kulturang ito ng mga bakla para maging middle ground nung iba’t ibang taste about drag," Singh said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
"'Yung baranggayan kasi nalimit talaga to beauty pageants, pero ito ire-reintroduce niya ang drag in the form of a drag pageant to be more inclusive," she added.
For Singh, it is important that "Drag Den Philippines" would reach the masses to show the shared experiences of the LGBT community on the ground.
"Importante na maibalik talaga ang drag sa lansangan kasi nasa lansangan ang audience na dapat nating maabot at mangyayari lang ito if una, gagamitin natin ang language nila. 'Yung language na ito ay hindi limitado sa manner of speaking ha, but more of ano 'yung language na pinaka-epektibo para makuha mo ang loob nila at pakinggan nila ang mensahe mo tulad ng comedy," the director said.
"Parte din nung language na tinutukoy ko 'yung familiarity (tulad ng pageant format) at 'yung pagiging malapit sa karanasan at sensibilities nila. Some people would say na this doesn’t elevate Pinoy drag in any way because for them 'yung mga ganitong drag ay low level or cheap," she added.
"Pero kasi 'yung karanasan ko mismo sa paglubog sa kulturang bakla ng mga nasa laylayan ang magsasabing mali sila dahil hindi ko ito nakikitang pag-elevate ng drag dahil kailan pa ba nakitang pag-angat ang pag-iwan sa napakalaking porsyento ng komunidad? Siguro para sa kanila they want the easy way, but for me, there is no easy way. Isa pa, ilang dekada na tayong pinamumunuan ng mga mayayaman. Hindi naman sila ang nag-angat sa komunidad — kundi 'yung mga nasa lansangan."
Hosted by Manila Luzon, "Drag Den Philippines" was launched last December 8 on Prime Video.
The show was unveiled in July 2021 as the “first-ever drag reality show” in the country, and by August held its auditions for aspiring queens.
However, it was “Drag Race Philippines,” the local version of the wildly popular “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” that first aired with Precious Paula Nicole winning the crown.
Manila Luzon made their international breakthrough via “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2011. They then appeared in two “All Stars” editions of the show, in 2012 then in 2018.