“Drag Race France”, the phenomenon that opened the country’s eyes wide

Thursday, August 11, at the Café Beaubourg in Paris, shortly before 8:00 p.m. Hundreds of people crowd in front of the establishment and the queue extends to Boulevard Sébastopol. They all came to attend the screening of the latest episode of Endurance race France, which opposes three drag queens: La Grande Dame, Soa de Muse and Paloma. The fervor and enthusiasm of this rather young audience, but not exclusively, is almost palpable. For a moment, it feels like a projection of a World Cup final, a much more gay-friendly version.

Several screens have been installed inside and outside the establishment. The public carefully follows this final, the last maxi-challenge, the last parade, the last lipsync [une épreuve de synchronisation labiale ou « playback » sur une chanson française] . When, after an hour, the presenter Nicky Doll announces that Paloma has won the first edition of Endurance race France, the crowd let out their joy. Surrounded by her two finalists, the Clermont-Ferrand drag queen savors her coronation and her newfound popularity live before savoring the pleasures of the public bath.

La Grande Dame recalls: “We joked with Soa and Paloma that it was going to end up as the start of the Loft with Loana. We were hoping for it a bit in secret and we got it. He was very beautiful to see. »

A season 2 in sight

The popularity of this adaptation of a successful American show seems to have gone beyond the LGBT+ community. On Twitter, Paloma is thus congratulated by Isabelle Rome, Minister in charge of Equality between women and men, Diversity and Equal Opportunities, but also by Olivier Bianchi, Mayor of Clermont-Ferrand, and Stéphane Sitbon-Gomez, Director of French Programs. TV, who announces in the process that a season 2 will take place.

This latest tweet shows that France Télévisions seems pleased to have been the broadcaster of Endurance race. Launched on the day of the LGBT+ Pride Parade in Paris, this first season was broadcast on the France TV Slash platform, with an online release every Thursday, and then on France 2 on Saturdays at midnight.

Initially, France Télés had announced that only the first episode would be broadcast on the air. With 914,000 viewers (11.6% of the total audience, according to Médiamétrie), the network changed its mind and broadcast the rest of the season in the third part of the afternoon. Ratings dropped considerably thereafter, but that can probably be explained by the fact that fans didn’t wait until Saturday night to see the episode. Audience figures for France TV Slash have not yet been released.

promises kept

If the success was there, it is because the show produced by Endemol and Shake Shake Shake kept its promises in terms of quality. The ten drag queens selected for the production ensured the show with often memorable performances, outfits that honored our reputation as fashion country, and plenty of emotional moments.

We especially remember this incredible lipsync between Lolita Banana and La Big Bertha in Body of Yseult. The first, feeling rejected by the other candidates, completely shaved off her hair on stage, before her competitor came to take her in her arms.

And now ?

As they wait for new drag queens to take over, the ten candidates intend to capitalize on their post-show notoriety. The entire cast, accompanied by presenter Nicky Doll, leaves at the beginning of the school year for a tour of France and Belgium entitled Drag Race France live. It will start with three shows at the Casino de Paris.

Then each will continue their race individually. Paloma will join season 5 of the series Balthazar in TF1. The Great Lady, accustomed to fashion shows, would like to have a radio column or do television. “We are too eager to do Fort Boyard with Soa and Paloma”, he jokes. Soa de Muse, who can be found at the beginning of the school year at her cabaret in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, hopes to perform in France and abroad.

Can the rest of the French drag community take advantage of the dynamic? drag race ? In recent years, drag scenes have developed all over France, in Bordeaux, Nice, etc. However, during the exhibition, the candidates repeatedly mentioned the difficulties they had in making a living from their art.

Paloma wants to believe that things will get better. “I hope that the organizers of evenings, those who hire drag queens, consider us intermittent workers, artists and pay us properly. But it won’t be that simple. She adds: “We have to think about local drinks. drag race, it’s very good, but it’s a very particular vision of drag, it’s a competition and drag is many other things, there are a thousand more facets. »

In an interview, several participants in Endurance race France they insisted on their desire not to pull too much of the blanket. “I think it will really change everyday life in drag,” says La Grande Dame. We were really at the origin of a discovery for many people. We are going to be very well reserved, very well paid, but our great fear is that the other girls will not be revalued at their fair value. I have the feeling that we were quite militant in all of this and that we expressed very clearly our desire to change things for everyone and not just for ourselves. »

The drag of the “revolution”

Beyond the drag scene, can queens change society? During the final episode, Olivier Rousteing, artistic director of Balmain, who was a guest judge, launched Soa de Muse in particular and the other queens who were a “revolution” for France.

One of the strengths of this cast was its diversity, both in terms of art and identity. A message of visibility aimed at the population in general, but also at the drag community. To non-white drag queens who would have a hard time asserting themselves, Soa launches: “You have your place and if they tell you that you don’t have your place, you break everything and impose yourself. In addition, the drag queen whose parents are from Martinique, points out, for example, that “in Martinique, things are already moving! We don’t know because we’re not there, but there are a lot of queer people, there are a lot of artists. My dream will be to go there, with other people I already work with. The drag revolution has only just begun.

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