Welcome to my Pre-Season Power Rankings of the queens of Drag Race Philippines Season 1!
Even though I watch every franchise of Drag Race no matter the language, I’ve shied away from recapping or ranking international editions of the show in the past.
My hesitance is for the very reason RuPaul makes a wobbly host of Drag Race Down Under! (Sorry, Ru, but it’s true.) Even if I had someone to explain every linguistic and pop culture reference to me live through an earpiece, there are so many nuances that are lost in cross-cultural communication.
That not only includes nuances lost to translation and idiomatic expressions, but also different fashion and beauty sensibilities across cultures. What might seem like an uneven silhouette or an off-trend brow in one country might be the standard of beauty in another.
This has been part of the internal struggle of the many non-English language Drag Race franchises, as they try to apply American drag standards set by Ru on the flagship for runways, lip syncs, and comedy performances to their local queens.
I think of all of the franchises, it has been Drag Race Thailand that has achieved this the most authentically. Part of that is because they don’t try to make the show look or sound like the American version, even while having queens do things like play Snatch Game and Lip Sync For Their Life. By contrast, Drag Race Holland often feels as though they are trying to be the most-seamless brand extension possible – including judging queens on the American drag rubric, even while they are putting nationalistic pride on display.
While I’ve always been aware of this, I think watching Drag Race France – where I understood some of the language, idioms, and culture – really drove it home the differences for me. That is because I finally had the opportunity to understand them in context thanks to speaking just enough French and being just enough of a Francophile. After seeing that and writing about that franchise for the past few months, I feel a little more comfortable in finding a way to write about the international franchises without forcing my own anglocentric opinions on how the queens ought to look and act.
(This is especially true when it comes to interpreting personalities! I’ve certainly learned that lesson in New Zealand, where even in another English-speaking culture my personality comes off completely differently than it does in the states.)
This is now my fifth Drag Race pre-season ranking of the year, and it is by far the hardest one I’ve done so far. So many of these queens strike me as strong contenders with few flaws in sight. I’m not sure a single one of these predictions will hold up in the long run – but, it’s still fun to make them! Sound off in the comments below – do you agree with my ranking, or do I have it totally out of order?
As a reminder, these pre-season power rankings are entirely based on each queen’s “Meet The Queens” interview segment as well as a quick browse of their social media. It’s not a judgment of their abilities or their worth as artists. It’s a guess at how well they will perform on the show based on my first impression of their drag.
If you want to watch Drag Race Philippines outside of the Philippines and Canada you can sign up for WowPresentsPlus to watch the many worldwide Drag Race franchises for $4.99 a month or $50 a year. (Note that if you’re in the home country of a franchise you will need to use a VPN to “visit” another country to see that content.)
Readers, start your engines! And, may the best drag queen win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it comes across on this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
Drag Race Philippines Season 1 – Pre-Season Power Rankings
1. Eva Le Queen
It’s interesting that Eva Le Queen said her drag persona was “very dignified,” because I was already thinking she has a certain gravitas to her before she said it. I don’t think that means she will be boring, reserved, or above-it-all. I just get the sense of her carrying herself with full knowledge of herself and her worth.
I love that she points out, “people don’t like it when you’re too smart” while at the same time calling herself a “political” queen and reminding us that drag is fundamentally a form of activism. That tells me she understands how to use her drag as a tool to educate and provocate.
I also love Eva Le Queen’s long, pointed, villainous eyebrows in her promo look. They feel entirely specific to her drag. Her approach to “evil cartoon villain” make-up might not be as overt as Bosco’s on Season 14, but it still comes through for me across many of her looks on social media. She doesn’t do it every time in her make-up, but she definitely has a particular “haughty villain” look that is common across many of her mugs.
To me, Eva Le Queen seems like a queen who is really prepared to navigate the complexity of being a TV character without letting it shake her confidence. Does she have the make-up skills and performance chops to back that up? I hope so, because she is the kind of artist I want to be hearing from week after week.
After watching all of the videos, Eva Le Queen is the one name, face, and perspective that stuck out the most. For me, that makes her the top-ranked queen heading into the season.
2. Precious Paula Nicole
Precious Paula Nicole’s promo look is so unbelievably stupid that it took my breath away.
What is she? A transformer? What does it mean? Why does she have giant fins that extend past her head? I don’t care! So many queens claim to be inspired by cartoons and anime, but to me this is what cartoon drag looks like. I fucking love it.
Also? Her make-up is so clean. It looks natural, but it’s clearly high drag. That carries through to her social media. She might be the most flawless make-up artist of the season. I refuse to believe it’s all the work of filters when she looks just as good in her promo. She also shows a wide range of drag, from beauty and pageant looks to wild colors and occasional sci-fi.
I think Precious Paula Nicole is one to watch. She feels like a full-package queen who is confident and full of surprises. She is one of the few queens I am getting “big winner energy” from on this cast right off the bat without having to look too hard.
3. Minty Fresh
Minty Fresh (Instagram | Twitter | YouTube) is a stunningly beautiful social media queen who doesn’t come from the club circuit. Is she going to show her hidden talents on Drag Race or reveal her flaws?
It’s obvious Minty Fresh has a natural ease in being herself on camera in this 1:1 environment, but will that translate to being in a room with 11 other queens?
The danger whenever we have anyone who is a vlogger or influencer on the show is that they are used to being their own editor. We’ve seen this be a stumbling block for enough queens that we can call it a trend. While they have a camera sense, that camera sense comes from having control. Even someone who does something like Twitch streaming that is live and extemporaneous is still used to talking in their character to their camera.
That doesn’t mean I think Minty Fresh is doomed. Minty makes a great point in her interview that drag her love and her escape, so she doesn’t want to turn it into a chore. Not every queen wants to live that “club, ‘nother club, ‘nother club” lifestyle. At the same time, she openly fears not lasting long enough to show everything she wants to show.
I couldn’t tell from her interview if that was her being humble, or if it’s an actual lack of self-confidence.
I’m not getting “humble” from Minty Fresh’s social media at all. Half of it is photos of her as an almost-impossibly handsome boy, and the rest are confident tight shots of her make-up and wig artistry. While she does show some head-to-toe drag, it’s often in the context of performance (and it’s clear she has a few go-to impersonations, include Ariana Grande).
Seeing her make-up in crisp HD in the Meet The Queens show that her looks online aren’t a trick of filters. A white-outlined wing isn’t revolutionary, but it’s still not the same trend everyone else is doing and it obvious she’s not just doing small beauty make-up. And, even if her outfit is over-engineered to the point of distraction, I get the suspicion she’s going to be a fashion queen all season.
I think Minty Fresh is going to be an intriguing queen to watch. I don’t see self-doubt in her fear of not showing everything she has to show – I see perfectionism. I think she’s is going to thrive in a setting that’s all of the drag with none of the distractions of a club. Even her stumbles along the way should be interesting.
Brigiding is very much an international queen in the Drag Race mold, even namedropping other RuGirls in her Meet The Queens interview. That might mean she’ll have an easy time with the earliest weeks of the competition, but you can’t only be a queen who has cracked the Drag Race code. You’ve got to bring some of yourself to the table as well.
Brigiding shows more depth across her well-curated socials. Her promo make-up wasn’t a fluke. She has some of the cleanest make-up skills in the cast and showcases the most range in color and style in her standard beauty make-up. She’s also an obviously talented and experienced performer with plenty of live clips. Plus, she is a lovable goof out of drag.
I’m hoping she gives all of those qualities a chance to shine through beyond her “I’m a fierce drag queen okay hunty mawma” facade. I’m sure it’s hard to resist acting like that as a fan of the show who has finally arrived on it!
All I really got from Brigiding’s interview was that she was high energy and likes to dance. It took a deeper diver into her socials to get to know her better. She’ll have to find a way to translate that into the competition if she is going to make a lengthy run on the show. Luckily, as a super-fan I suspects she already understands that.
5. Viñas Deluxe
Viñas Deluxe feels like she is ready for her moment.
She is silly and loud, but she speaks surely and puts a sharp point on her words. She was just as quick to volley with the production team about sound outside the studio (“that’s actually my production team”) as she was to mock herself for being unable to do math. Everything about her strikes me as the brand of queen who tends to do well on any of the Drag Race franchises.
To that, we can add her make-up. I love it. The blue eyeshadow with orange pops and a bright red lip? That is draggy drag, and I am here for it. So what if she’s another in the group of queens who took the car theme literally? She completed the assignment without just gluing a giant rectangle to her chest.
More importantly, I remembered her take on it. Being memorable even when you’re average is a critical Drag Race skill.
I might be slightly less excited about her make-up after checking out her socials. This was a huge surprise to me, since she is a beauty vlogger! She’s fearless in trying lots of different looks, but to my untrained eye she doesn’t have the same smooth, blended quality to her makeup as some of these other queens.
Maybe that’s not going to be as much of a feature on Philippines as it has been on other franchises, and they’ll appreciate how much she uses big, bold, draggy colors.
I think Viñas Deluxe is going to be a firecracker personality we all fall in love with, but I’m not sure if she has the ruthless perfectionist side it’s going to take to push past some of the ultra-pro queens in this cast every single week.
6. Marina Summers
Marina Summers has only been doing drag for three years, which is a lot less than many of the seasoned queens in this competition. She’s also a queen with a full-time non-drag career.
That’s always fascinating to me. I tend to identify with queens who have non-drag careers, for obvious reasons. Yet, personally identifying them aside, I think their external influences tend to bring a lot of extra dimension to their savviness in playing the game of Drag Race.
The question is always: can they possibly compare to the experience of queens who would go hungry if they couldn’t make money in drag? That potential weakness might’ve come through in a few aspects of Marina Summers’ interview.
I find her outfit confusing. The cut-up bodysuit has no discernible pattern, and I’m not sure why her full-body fishnets are ripped. Also, her answer to everything is that she represents “the future of Filipino drag” but… why? Because she’s young? There’s not enough story there.
That said, I see positives, too! I enjoy her make-up. It’s a blended, soft face with a few specific elements that stick out, like the glitter cut crease.
Marina Summers’ business professional side comes through on her social media. Her Instagram is curated, her looks are all eye-popping, and she has her own YouTube documentary series! Honestly, I totally forgot I was working on this post and got totally lost in checking out all of her photos.
This is a queen who understands how to produce herself, but how will that translate to the show? I think Marina Summers is polished and quick on her feet, but I’m just not certain she can knock off 11 other full-time queens to become a drag superstar.
I love that Turing spends time talking about the difference between performing a song and feeling the meaning of a song. I feel like this is something that’s often lost on Drag Race audiences, who expect showy lip syncs full of histrionics and tricks. I’ve seen many a lip sync on Drag Race where one queen is giving major performance and completely missing the point of the song.
(RuPaul sometimes rewards them with a win.)
Turing’s social media is immediately recognizable as “very her” even after spending just a minute with her in the Meet The Queens. She is a model and a talented make-up artist who can do more than switch color palettes – she has the know-how to completely alter the period and style of her make-up in drag.
I was obsessed with her big orange wrap around otherwise unadorned eyes in this promo, but I feel like that’s a make-up look that would get critiqued on the main stage. However, she has so much range that even if that was the case, by the next runway she would’ve moved on from it on her own even without a critique.
And, Turing has some looks. Maybe they’re not all your standard “rhinestones everywhere” drag looks, but these aren’t just body suits and pageant gowns. Turing’s style is broad and eclectic.
My fear for Turing is that her version of drag may be too specific and too personal for the Drag Race machine. If Drag Race Philippines is going to lean in to its own specificity rather than being a carbon copy of what we know from Ru-hosted seasons, I could see Turing doing extremely well.
8. Lady Morgana
Lady Morgana’s promo look is killer. So many queens took this “electric automative warrior” aspects of this theme into a silver direction. Lady Morgana managed to show that same power in a strawberry lemonade palette with a ridiculous and unique silhouette.
Lady Morgana’s Meet The Queens is a great example of how missing cultural context can lead me (and you) to misread a queen. I was immediately puzzled by her make-up. She wears a confusing combination of ultra-massive black eyelashes, pink glitter eyebrows, a hard nose contour, and relatively soft face contouring. Yet, within a minute she explained that her city’s drag scene take a more artists approach to drag, and part of that is huge eyes and eyebrows that reach “to the second or third floor.”
Her Instagram reveals many wildly unusual looks that make me excited for her unique perspective on beauty make-up. She does everything from wild creature looks to straightforward feminine glam. I am hungry to see more of what she is showing on her somewhat sparse Instagram! It’s all so wildly specific to her. I don’t think her mug is going to be any single thing every time.
Also, there’s something appealing to me about Lady Morgana emphasis on positive energy while not shying away from being self-confident.
To me, Lady Morgan feels like a queen who will make it midway through the season and leave having shown her talents. But, she also may quickly become my favorite.
Xilhouete (Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter | Website) is a queen I cannot get a read on. She’s talented multimedia artist, but it’s hard to know how much her mixed-media skillset will come through in the confines of Drag Race.
Xilhouete gave me conflicting feelings in this Meet The Queens. First, the combination of the printed blouse and metallic bodice was one of the only times I said, “Oh, it’s fashion” out of all of these outlandish camp outfits. I’m not saying this promo is high-fashion runway-ready, but I feel like there’s more of a personal style perspective to it than many of the others.
On the other hand, I’m not sure how to feel about her small, dark make-up and hair. Xilhouete has a somewhat round face to work with, but her lips and eyes aren’t exaggerated in her Meet The Queens look. The amount of black on them (and the sheer scale of her eyebrows) makes them look even smaller. It doesn’t help that her complex is uniformly pale without much carving out with contour. And, her hair is flat beauty hair. It’s not helping to change her silhouette or her proportions
I’m not trying to read a successful performing drag queen. I’m trying to figure out why she made these choices. Is there a cultural context I’m missing? This is a particular beauty standard I’m not tuned into?
Xilhouete’s social media is focused on her being a multi-disciplinary artist, but it doesn’t show too much of her drag. There are some lip syncs on her TikTok, but they are all to ballads. In every one she is dressed in a similar style of make-up and small hair as her promo look.
I’m not sure what we can expect from Xilhouete. Is she going to go too high-concept too early in the competition and turn off the judges? Or, will she be an artistic assassin like Sasha Velour who is good at everything? I truly don’t know what to predict.
10. Gigi Era
Gigi Era (Instagram) is a hard-working international queen and wigstress based in Australia who is back to her home country of Philippines to win the crown.
Gigi Era is giving me the kind of queen we used to have on Drag Race all the time before the double-digit seasons. She’s slightly older than most of this cast (and all of the typical cast of a US season). That comes with a mature perspective on what it means to sustain success and make a living as a drag queen.
On her Instagram, Gigi Era shows off a lot of her big breastplate and many dance costumes. Purely from a visual impact standpoint, it doesn’t look like she’ll bring as much to the runway as some of these other queens. That was emphasized for me by the fact that her promo seemed to be the most outside-of-theme. It was also one of the few promos that did not fit or flatter its wearer as well as the others.
We’ve seen Drag Race trip up some of these full-time Drag Queens in the past, who can’t change gears from the necessity of being a reliable workhorse to the frivolity of being stupid and personable on television. Can Gigi make the jump? Gigi has a calm confidence to her, but she’s going to need to be something other than the drag veteran to win a crown on this show.
Corazon (Instagram) is a make-up artist, designer, and self-proclaimed catty pageant queen.
Corazon has a stunning face of make-up on in her promo look. However, I question if it is high drag enough for the show. To me, it looks much closer to beauty make-up than drag make-up.
I don’t know anything about the Philippines drag scene, so it could be that smaller “beauty” make-up is a staple for queens there. I’m very curious to hear what the judges have to say about it. Corazon shows a greater amount of range on her Instagram, but it seems like the beauty look is her standard.
Corazon makes herself out to be very well-rounded, but something about her stories felt small and insular. She’s not talking like a queen who is ready to be on a global platform, but one who is here to win another crown for her already-impressive collection. That’s not always a bad thing – it’s how Trinity The Tuck has driven herself to be one of the top queens in the entire franchise!
However, I fear Corazon will fall into the typical pageant-queen trap that’s already on display here in her Meet The Queens. Drag Race is not just about having the “cleanest” presentation in each round of the competition. Even if Drag Race grew out of both pageant drag and ball culture, it requires a unique mix of talent and force of personality to succeed.
Corazon might turn out to be as bitchy as she hints at in this promo, but picking fights with other queens is not the sort of personality I mean. I’m not getting anything about her personal brand from this interview, and of all the queens to turn in Transformers couture, hers is the boxiest and most costume-y. Again, I could be missing cultural context, but to me this reads as a box on top of a simple skirt. That’s not a terrific sign from a gown designer.
While Corazon might not stumble in an initial challenge, I’m not sure she will make it far in this pack of extremely professional, competitive queens.
I don’t know how valid this is, but the moment I glimpsed Prince I got an “early out” vibe.
I can’t explain why.
She has an easy, relaxed humor to her that I find engaging, but there’s something about her that doesn’t line up for me. She’s presenting standard, pageant-inspired drag in this promo with the burnt orange contour carried up to her wigline and a on-trend jeweled wig, but she talks about being a creature.
Also, she repeatedly disclaims herself as soft-spoken and reserved, which rarely plays well on Drag Race.
On her socials, her passion for unusual make-up looks shines through, which makes me question even more why she showed up looking so “pageant” to a promo shoot with such a sci-fi theme. It strikes me as a lack of nerve. It feels like she’s still in the middle of her drag metamorphosis and might not be ready to win this show.
I don’t ever want to sound as though I am tearing down any artist who does drag at a high enough level to be cast on this franchise. I simply get the sense that Prince is early in her life and her drag journey, and that means she doesn’t have her own indelible stamp just yet. She certainly could have the skillset to crush a few of these queens in early-season challenges, but I’m not sure her personal brand is strong enough to go the distance.