This month’s MEGA Entertainment cover star and International Drag Superstar Manila Luzon talks about coming home and hosting the first-ever Drag Show Reality TV Competition in the Philippines. Read an except below.
The art of Drag is very much alive and thriving in the Philippines and Manila recognizes this. And so when she was tapped to host the very first Drag Queen Reality TV Competition in the Philippines by Cornerstone Entertainment, produced by CS Studios, Project 8 and WeTV Philippines, she all but said, “Yass Kween!”
“So, we’re gonna let them take a peek at what it’s like underground; like, right here in your own backyards. We have some of the most creative people here in the Philippines and they are doing some wonderful things with their drag, and we’re going to be able to showcase that and we’re building it kind of in the format of a pageant because you know how we love pageants down here, right? So, it’s basically a reality TV show and pageant for drag queens. We will be crowning our Filipino Drag Supreme.”
“Drag Den is going to be the Philippines’ first ever reality TV drag pageant. I’m really excited because we have so many amazing Filipino drag queens and most people here in the Philippines don’t really have any clue that they’re right here doing some of the best drag in the world in their backyards. Drag is still kind of underground here, so I’m excited to bring the Filipino audience and let them see underground and see the scene that’s happening and to fall in love with these queens and to be inspired by their creativity, to be in awe of their beauty and their transformations, and so it’s going to be like a pageant,” Manila adds.
A Drag Competition and Beauty Pageant in one? Now that’s something we’re all intrigued and excited to see. And Manila and the Drag Den Philippines team combed and finessed the entire nation for only the finest Drag Queens of all colors, shapes and sizes. Because yes, inclusion is everything.
“We have a big range. We opened it up. There’s a lot of ideas of what drag is supposed to be especially from people, but there’s so many different kinds of drags. So, we opened up the auditions to not only drag queens but drag kings, trans drag performers, biological women who do drag called AFAB—assigned female at birth—drag queens, and we found drag artists that really made me even rethink like what I consider drag. So, we have queens that are the most beautiful women and we have queens that are maybe not the most beautiful women but there’s still something about them that is almost more appealing because they are completely different. So, we have a big range of queens.”
And from thousands that auditioned, only a selected few were chosen as finalists.
“We are going to have, I believe, eight. We’ve narrowed it down from like a thousand people—so many people auditioned! And thanks, TikTok, for being the social app which we were able to help hold auditions for. We even had to ask TikTok followers to help us decide on who we’re gonna have in the competition, and we and narrowed it down. Honey, if we could’ve had all of them, that would’ve been sickening, but that would’ve been a very long pageant—and pageants are already long enough. So, yeah, we had to narrow it down. So, hopefully, we’ll be able to see more in the future,” Manila crosses her fingers.
Photography SEVEN BARRETTO of STUDIO 7 MNL
Creative direction JEB FRONDA
Art direction JANN PASCUA
Makeup MARLYN OCAMPO assisted by VIOLET OCAMPO
Hair IAN GARCIA
Styling GEE JOCSON assisted by MARKO JEFFERSON and MICHAEL LESOY
Photography assistants ERWIN BOTIN and PIERRE GUEVARRA
Shot on location at AVIGNON CLINIC, BGC
Shoot coordination KZ FRANCISCO and MJ ALMERO
Special thanks to AVIGNON CLINIC, CHRISTOPHER CACHUELA, CORNERSTONE ENTERTAINMENT, ERICKSON RAYMUNDO and JEFFREY VADILLO