Siegfred Quain talks about VERSA, creating a platform for drag artists, and his first time performing in drag at its first live event.
At the peak of the pandemic, many turned to virtual spaces to stay connected and entertained. Lockdowns led to a surge of streaming services and social apps, making it possible for people to participate in different activities and events. Siegfred Quain discovered Kumu, became a live-streamer, and here, a new online drag competition was born. Two years after its inception, VERSA is now, well, live.
Tell us about how you envisioned VERSA.
I wanted to provide a platform for aspiring drag artists and DJs like myself. VERSA is like a playground, a safe space where we can be creative, push the boundaries of our craft, and be our authentic selves, all while meeting new people and having fun. I promised myself during the first two seasons of VERSA that I would produce it live once the lockdown was lifted. VERSA was hugely inspired by Poison Wednesdays Drag Cartel. After two years of being stuck at home, watching it live again gave me enough inspiration and energy to bring it live for the first time.
Producing an in-person event is much different than doing it online. How did you do it?
Hosting and producing it live is a completely different ballgame. Virtually, I used to do everything except the tabulation of scores. It’s challenging because of its high production value. I knew from the get-go that I would need help—a lot of it—so choosing the right people to be part of the team was very crucial. Every detail was scrutinized. Though it wasn’t perfect, for a first run, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.
Congratulations are in order! How do you feel about its success?
It was like a dream, and it happened so fast that I can barely remember anything. The one thing that really stayed with me was the fun the people seemed to have. I also recall some guests and contestants coming up to me after the show, thanking me because the event led to opportunities or gigs that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. That, to me, is the core of our success, because the purpose has always been to create a platform for the drag community, novices and veterans alike.
As with any event production and organization, obstacles surface. What have you encountered along the way?
Producing a drag show isn’t a walk in the park. Logistically, no matter how small the event, it’s always painstakingly tedious. As with any baby production, the financing was really tough. That’s why we are beyond grateful for the support and trust of our partners: Loop Club, Slate Medical, and GRWM Cosmetics. Introducing VERSA as a live production was such a challenge because there are already many established drag events since the airing of Drag Race Philippines. Even though this was a deterrent in the eyes of others, we took it as a challenge to show the community that there is a space for new concepts and that platforms for drag artists should never stop growing in size and number.
I am very thankful to the team behind VERSA. They are very passionate about this endeavor too. I’ve seen how dedicated and creative they are as individuals, so seeing them come together as a team for this event was a dream come true. Shout out to Alexa Arabejo and Bogscy, for being with me since day one. Hats off to Chai Agoncillo, who never fails to support the needs of our queens.
What are some memorable moments that emerged that night?
The entire experience made me reminisce about watching my first-ever Drag Cartel All Stars, where Minty Fresh won. My mind is blown, and my heart is full! All the contestants and guests came prepared with pasabog performances! Mz. Chronicles bagged the title of the Ultimate VERSA Season 3!
What motivated you to perform in drag for the first time?
As an avid fan of drag, I’ve been wanting to do it since I laid eyes on a queen, but my inner saboteur always hindered me from pursuing the craft. VERSA paved the way for me to introduce my drag persona. It didn’t cross my mind to be in drag for our first live paandar, let alone perform in it. As the creative director, I wanted to focus on the show, but I knew in my heart that I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.
How did you come up with your performance? Have you chosen a drag name yet?
I’m obsessed with Cynthia Erivo, and I happened to watch her Oscars performance of Stand Up while crafting the program for VERSA. It moved me. A voice inside me said, “You will regret this if you don’t perform this!”
Tama Gucci was given by a friend of mine, and I loved it because the name is a wordplay on Tamagotchi. It reminded me of my childhood when playing alone was the only escape from the harsh world. Plus, the name is derived from two Japanese words: tamago and tomodachi, meaning egg friend, which in my case, was given by a friend who looks like an egg! Salva V. Duh, love ya, sis!
So, will this be the start of a new life path?
I am absolutely pursuing drag! It basically encompasses everything that I love in life: makeup, hosting, fashion, music, theater, catfight! I mean, what’s not to love about this Olympic sport? Truly, drag should be an Olympic sport! The sky is the limit in this art form.
So many cosmic alignments (happened that night), which I’m taking as a sign for a blessed and cosmically supported future for VERSA Productions.
Photos courtesy of VERSA PRODUCTIONS