From Ballroom to drag: dancing queens Zilver Zwan & Merckz intersect both worlds
Merckz was the one who got into drag first. She entered the drag scene as a dancer at Nectar Nightclub’s Pride Month and eventually became their choreographer and Xilhouete’s assistant director. “Working with amazing queens behind the scenes for months also made me want to pursue it. I realized that drag isn’t just the glitz and glam we see on stage; there’s a whole process one must be willing to undergo,” she says.
As a supportive boyfriend, Zilver learned the basics of makeup and hair so she could help Merckz whenever needed. It all snowballed when she bought a 300-peso wig and surprised herself that she could easily work out a desired look. Zilver gagged everyone when she showed up in drag and walked the Oldway and Sex Siren categories at “The Bxtch that Stole Christmas Ball,” organized by the Kiki House of Cleopatra. Winning the grand prize for the Sex Siren category was the stamp of approval that made her say, “I’m going to keep walking the balls in drag.”
What are some of the most rewarding aspects of being in a relationship with another drag artist?
Merckz: No need to look for a PA because we already have each other. Also, it’s good to always have someone transparent enough to point out things I can improve. We love to criticize each other in dance and in drag.
Zilver: Probably seeing him grow because we cannot take out the fact that we have a huge influence from each other. Another thing is seeing him being appreciated by other people when he’s in drag because people who don’t do drag don’t realize that it takes more than a look to do drag. You must also be mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared when you step out of the house.
How does drag and dance factor in your relationship? Does it enhance your bond, or is it more of an individual expression?
Zilver: We are both from the same Kiki house, the Kiki House of Dirty, and we help each other improve our drag. We always share knowledge about everything and want to ensure that both of us would come out looking great. But of course, we cannot take out the part that it is also a huge thing on our individual expression since I’m more into glam-type of drag, and Merckz’s drag is leaning to the more alternative side.
Merckz: We met through dance, and we were able to deepen our connection through drag. It enhanced our relationship and gave us more identity to express ourselves individually. We actually had no plans to take the couple route in drag, but it’s inevitable to have that connection with your partner that transcends from one art form to another. Our friends tell us I’m more on the antagonist side and Zilver’s the protagonist, which I honestly get. Kasi ako ‘yung nasa matapang/rebellious na spectrum, siya ‘yung sa princess princess fantasy.
Can you share any memorable experiences you’ve had together on stage?
Merckz: When we got booked for our first drag show in Loft, BGC. First shows are always so special. It even happened on the day of our monthsary. Felt like the stars aligned, and we were celebrating a special day through a special art form we’re both passionate about.
Zilver: That was the first time we were paid to perform, and it was a huge validation for us because it was the first time we felt like actual drag queens. People would give us tips, clap for us, and even greet and compliment us when we cross paths with them.
In what ways do you support and motivate each other’s artistic journey?
Zilver: By just giving our honest opinions to each other and supporting him all the way.
Merckz: We randomly share creative thoughts whenever we have something in mind. While he’s driving, while we’re eating, etc., we consult each other on how to make a look or a performance better. We make sure not to hold back. Also, hiraman ng gamit! If my boots will tie his whole look together, go! And vice versa.
Photos: ZILVER ZWAN & MERCKZ (via Instagram)