Welcome to my review, recap, and power rankings of the first episode of Drag Race Belgique Season 1 – “Bonjour Iedereen.” This episode introduces us to 10 queens, explains the Drag Race format to new viewers, and has the cast perform one-minute Talent Show segments and show off their “Belgicolours” on the runway.
Each new international Drag Race franchise brings its own flavor of production and judging, and especially of drag. Drag Race, Drag Race UK, Drag Race Canada, and Drag Race Down Under are all wildly different despite all being English-speaking franchises (and three of them being hosted by Ru).
As a result, I was not sure what to expect from Drag Race Belgique despite being obsessed with its neighboring (and language-sharing) Drag Race France when it aired last year (plus, loving the part-Francophone Drag Race Canada, which might be my favorite of the franchises).
My first impressios of Drag Race Belgique is that Belgian drag feels like it has much less to prove than French drag. Even the most austere and fashionable of these 10 queens were a little bit weird and goofy compared to the most competitive members of the French cast. This first episode may have felt the least cutthroat of all of the franchises, save perhaps Canada.
Also, I had no idea Belgian drag would be so humourous, or that the humour would be quite so surreal! I’d describe the majority of these Talent Show acts as deliberately comedic, and all of them had at least a slight edge of absurdity to them. Compare that to España, whose last Talent Show felt like queens were competing in an intergalactic tournament with their very lives at stake!
I see a potential downside of this franchise being that when the humor misses the mark things may seem underwhelming. That could be because the queens simply aren’t funny, or because their humour is are low key and it doesn’t translate well out of the Belgian idiom. Some of these Talent Show performances felt like they may have required us to be in on the joke as viewers, and I can’t tell if that was a Belgian thing or just down to the intensely unique perspectives of each queen.
I’m impressed with Rita Baga on her first Drag Race hosting outing. She’s not trying to be something she’s not by coming off as austere and full of glamour. Rita is our beloved Quebecois alien actress and a dedicated weirdo, but she’s also always authentic. I think she balanced her silly side with clear, incisive commentary as the head judge on the panel. She also showed a fair amount of sympathy for the queens as competitors.
If you came into “Bonjour Iedereen” looking for American-style haute couture and back-breaking stunts, it’s likely you only found one or two opportunities to TOOT along the way.
However, if you treat watching this franchise in an education about how drag can be different all over the world, it was a charming introduction with a strong cast of characters.
How did the performances from this strong cast stack up against my Pre-Season Power Rankings, based only on Meet Queens Interviews and social media? I think I nailed the bottom of the pack, but there were many surprises in store at the top of the ranking to shake things up heading into this season.
(Want to watch Drag Race Belgique outside of Belgium? For most of the world, it’s available as part with a Wow Presents Plus subscription as soon as the episode is done airing.)
Lecteurs, start your engines. Et, que la meilleure Drag Queen gagne!
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 Belgique Season 1, Episode 1 – “Bonjour Iedereen” Power Ranking
Before we get to a deep dive into entrance lines, talent shows, and “Belgicolours” runway looks, let us appreciate Rita Baga living her best life as a newly-minted host of a Drag Race franchise. While this was hardly her best-ever outfit, her confidence and humor as a host was 10s across the board for me.
(However, I was obsessed with her satin suit in the workroom!)
#1. Athena Sorgelikis (was Pre-Season #3)
Athena Sorgelikis can go from severe fashion model to silly humor in a split second. She picked up the first win of the season in “Bonjour Iedereen” and I think she’s going to prove herself a force to be reckoned with in several of the standard Drag Race challenges.
Athena entered saying, “OK, je vois le genre. Choquée mais pas décue.” That means, “I see how it is. I’m shocked, but not disappointed.”
I feel like there’s something idiomatic going on there that I’m not quite grasping, because in English it’s close to the phrase, “I’m not angry, just disappointed,” which connotes a sort of mature exhaustion. But, I’d expect to hear it the other way, “I’m disappointed, but not shocked.” Maybe reversing it is the point? Maybe it’s like, “You’re all a bit shocking, but I dig it”?
Any French speakers want to clue me in?
Athena’s giving me a little bit of that Alaska / Paloma brand of strong masculine features and a lithe body with sometimes-severe fashion. That tends to go well on Drag Race, but I was immediately curious about if she could get goofy. Well, consider that question answered!
(Also, we learned she’s Edna’s drag daughter – so, expect a lip sync!)
Athena Sorgelikis “Bad Date” Talent Show gave me what I was hoping to get from Irene Dubois’s water-pouring routine on Season 15. It was subtle, and there was really only a pair of fiery gags in the entire thing, but Athena kept a steady pace of silliness throughout. I don’t think the one bout of fire-breathing was enough of a payoff, but it was cute and incredibly well-thought-out.
Athena’s corset with fuzz affixed and pair of flaired mukluks wasn’t anything revolutionary, but it proved that she understands how to use her long, lean proportions to her advantage. This is a look that could have squashed her long body lines or felt too broken up across her height. Instead, it all feels like a single incorporated piece.
I was shocked but not disappointed that the judges were so whole-heartedly in favorite of Athena’s performance this episode. I expected them to break in favor of slightly more obvious winning performances, but it felt perfectly in keeping with the offbeat vibe of the Belgian queens for them to be charmed by Athena’s odd, fiery little skit and her fuzzy runway. If she proves to be as dominant this season as I expect, this early win will make her hard to keep up with through the finale.
#2. Edna Sorgelsen (was Pre-Season #4)
It’s hard to argue with the edit of episode narrator who delivers an imaginative performance, which places Edna Sorgelsen well heading into the rest of the competition.
Edna Sorgelsen walked in on the line, “Comment? Vous me dites que je suis déjà la gagnante? Mais je n’ai encore rien dit!” (“What’s that? You’re saying I’ve already won it? But, I haven’t even said a word!”) The line was even funnier considering she delivered it to an empty room as the first queen to make an entrance.
In her entrance, Edna gave us exactly what I predicted from her social media, which is “femme queen realness.” She looks like a lady. A very nice middle-aged lady.
She’s also the narrator of the season, thus far. She has no problem issuing an unending stream of narration both in the Workroom and in the interview chair throughout “Bonjour Iedereen.” As a result, she may have wound up with the most screentime of the entire cast.
Edna Sorgelsen’s Talent Show performance was seriously weird. It was a half spoken word, half popera tribute to moustachioed Belgian astronaut Dirk Frimout. I found it spacey in more ways than one, but when Edna’s singing was at the forefront it was definitely arresting. I appreciated that she immediately went super weird, since her entrance drag was very casual.
Edna’s runway was a fairly standard evening gown rendered in the colors of the Belgian flag, but I loved the massive wrap around her shoulders, her huge statement earrings and necklage, and her oddly jagged silver afro. Plus, from the back the curve of the colored portions gave her a tiny black silhouette. It’s a smart look styled perfectly for high impact.
Edna seems like she has the range from pretty to goofy to gorgeous that works well on Drag Race, but will that resonate with the judges? I’m very curious to see her be critiqued for her advertisement next week. That feels like a challenge win she might be able to snatch.
#3. Valenciaga (was Pre-Season #5)
My big pre-season question about Valenciaga was if she could bring performance chops to match her fashion. Consider the answer to that a resounding YES based on her performance in “Bonjour Iedereen.”
Valencia gave her entrance line in English: “West Flanders is in the house”
She gave me everything I was hoping for in her entrance: fashion, details, weird little twists, and treating the workroom like it’s her runway. She wore a jumpsuit with her name printed all over the fabric in bold type! It’s fucking cool!
However, I wasn’t expecting an exposed hairy chest! Valencia’s social media looks tend to be much more focused on female illusion, so the gender bending was shocking to me – especially since it meant the same outfit on a person with breasts would mean their breasts would be out. I enjoy drag outfits of that nature, that play with expectations about bodies and then subvert them. Valenciaga did it expertly.
Now that I see Valenciaga out of drag, I appreciate her extreme transformation even more than before! She definitely carves out a new face from her look out of drag.
(All of the other queens were obsessed with Valenciaga’s Crocs with tiny rivet heels, which I found hilarious because you know she would get read for them on the US show.)
If any one of the Talent Show acts clued me into the surrealist quality of Belgian drag humor, it was Valenciaga’s. From the obvious gag set-up of the too-low microphone to her stuffed giraffe with massive sex-doll lips, everything about her presentation was absurd. That her actual talent was miming that she was playing a kazoo with her anus was secondary to the overall silliness of her entire act.
I expected a lot from Valenciaga on the runway and she did not disappoint in this first outing. Her deconstructed rain jacket over a slinky vinyl dress was total haute couture and I lived for it. I loved the layered rectangles of yellow vinyl and how the two sides were only connected via her slim belt. She brought so much drama to her walk of what could’ve easily been seen as a whimsical garment that I was entirely sucked into her sodden fantasy.
As a self-proclaimed queen of branding, I have high expectations for Valenciaga heading into next week’s advertising challenge. If she can show her stuff with this same level of confidence (and maybe snag a win) it will cement her as an early favorite to reach the finals in my mind.
#4. Drag Couenne (was Pre-Season #7)
Drag Couenne was transfixing in every bit of “Bonjour Iedereen,” but she’s already showing early signs of confidence issues. Let’s hope this killer queen won’t let her inner saboteur wreak havoc before she can make her mark on the competition.
Drag Couenne took the breath away from her competitors when she entered the Workroom, drawling “Drag Queen, Drag Queen, Drag Queen… [elaborate yawn] Drag Couenne” as if she was playing a very boring game of “Duck Duck Goose.”
This is a queen who makes an impact in the room with both her look and her personality. I got shades of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7’s Miss Fame. It’s not that Couenne looks similar, but just the way she instantly captured everyone’s attention when she walked into the room. Anyone who puts a healthy fear into the eyes of both Edna and Valenciaga (and delight into Athena’s) just by arriving must be pretty fierce.
I think it’s important that we’re all on the same page about one thing: I am obsessed with how Drag Couenne does drag.
Her Talent Show emphasized that for me. I was assuming she would deliver some form of punk rock, especially with her David Byrne influenced big shouldered suit. I was shocked that she sang a baritone-range torch song, which was as much about the vocals as it was about carefully composing every second of body and face as she delivered it. It was so un-punk that I think it came back around to be punk again. Major Bowie vibes.
Her actual singing was fine – good and controlled, but nothing spectacular. But, the way she used the singing along with her look and her posture to tell a story was *chef’s kiss*
(Also, the camera crew was having WAY TOO MUCH FUN shooting her Talent Show performance. So many amazing frames, it was hard to restrain myself to just one.)
Drag Couenne delivered a similar performance in her runway – taking a look of slivered multi-colored ribbons that could be played messy and punk, but delivering it with fashion model seriousness. It wasn’t an all-time best look, but she walked it perfectly despite being insecure about her presentation.
That insecurity makes me worry we’re going to see a Katya-esque “almost a finalist” run from Couenne, despite her being utterly compelling. If she’s already stuck in self-doubt on week one when she crushed the challenge and placed high, what will it look like when she’s safe or in the bottom?
#5 Susan [from Grindr] (was Pre-Season #2)
Susan is an offbeat camp queen, but she pays attention to the details. That’s going to take her far in a cast that’s a little on the punk and DIY side. The real question is: how often will she try to rock her natural hair?
Susan walked in with a bit of camp pep in her step and cooed “Coucou, les enfants. Tatie Susan est arrivée!” (“Hey kids, Auntie Susan is here!”)
The other queens seemed less than impressed with her entrance look. Personally, I love her completely-monochrome purple skirt over purple catsuit that extends from her neck to her fingertips right down to her toes. It’s simple, but it’s not basic. It has a massive visual impact that really pops on screen. It’s a major TOOT from me.
Susan’s Talent Show performance of “rhythmic gymnastics” was the perfect balance of talent and stupidity.
At the most basic level, she hula-hooped for forty seconds straight. Is that a talent? Sort of. But, she dressed it up with ribbon twirling and mimed(?) singing that failed to crack a glass, so she surreptitiously cracked it over her head.
I think it’s such a wise move to take a subtle talent and then dress it up like this. It’s high camp, and that’s often the way to score a win on Drag Race. (Think Trinity turning tucking into a talent, or Ra’jah being a seamstress.)
Susan absolutely crushed the runway with her cartoonish cubism take on a raincoat that was so exaggerated it bordered on a kimono. It was far and away my favorite look of the night, even beating Valenciaga’s deconstructed version of the same concept. If Susan can bring this level of imagination to all of her runways she’ll have these queens beat week after week.
I think Susan is another queen who I am predisposed to love, and it will be hard to separate that from trying to rank her performance based on how she is received by the show. However, what stuck with me throughout “Bonjour Iedereen” beyond my natural affinity for her drag is that she’s incredibly professional when it comes to minding the details of her drag. Say what you will about her using her natural hair, but not a strand of it was out of place. If she can continue to marry camp, high fashion, and attention to detail, I can’t imagine her leaving before the halfway mark of the season.
#6 Mocca Bonè (was Pre-Season #6)
Mocca Bonè’s too much was never quite enough in “Bonjour Iedereen.” She needs to go even more over-the-top than she did here to make her mark against this cast, while still minding all the details.
Mocca Bonè entered en pointe, saying, “Vous voulez un café frappé ? Ou crushed?”
I don’t think there was anything idiomatic there, since it was basic French and some of it was in English, so I’m not really sure what she was going for other than a play on her coffee-related name. I guess it’s a sort of “martini, shaken or stirred” sort of line.
I had an idea that Mocha was going to be all about long body lines and performance, but I don’t think I understood it FULLY until I saw her entrance. Also, I love her upcycled burlap dress and that she is my perfect hair twin out of drag!
I was also surprised that she comes off slightly soft-spoken next to some of these other queens. We’ll see if her actions speak louder than words.
Mocca delivered a fine Talent Show by dancing en pointe to a self-introductory original track (en anglais). It a was camp enough track and ballet enough performance to come off as a legitimate talent, but it didn’t blow me away. Plus, as the judges pointed out, there were several off-balance moments that vibrated oddly against her obvious ballet training.
Mocca Bonè’s runway was similar for me: fine, but a little bit lacking.. She executed her reveal well enough, and her glittering sequined cape was lovely, but… was that all? It’s just a black corset with wings. I’m not saying it was simple to construct, but once the reveal was over I was left wanting for more visual impact than Mocca delivered.
For a queen with a more-is-more aesthetic, I already feel as though Mocca Bonè isn’t pushing things as far as possible. She needs to get exponentially louder without getting messier if she’s going to survive against the top half of this cast.
#7 Mademoiselle Boop (was Pre-Season #1)
Mademoiselle Boop was mostly a non-event in “Bonjour Iedereen” outside of the interview chair. She is carefully posed and polished from every angle, but she lacked a certain oomph that a reality TV show demands. Is that a portent of her arc on the show, or are the editors simply saving her powerhouse moments for later in the season?
Mademoiselle Boop entered with her diaphanous orange robe billowing behind her, saying, “Des centaines de reines, une seule impératrice.” (“Hundreds of queens, but only one empress.”)
While I am all for comfortable, colored-blocked entrance looks, Mademoiselle Boop’s look gives me pause. That’s because I gave her a pass on her similarly basic diaphanous promo look, and this is even simpler and more ill-fitting. Is Mlle Boop going to make me regret placing her at the top of my Pre-Season ranking?!
You could tell Mademoiselle Boop is a stage veteran from the pomp she brought to her onion-cutting act. She certainly had everyone transfixed at the start! It’s just… there was no punchline.
She chopped the onion once and held it up to her face. What were we supposed to get from that? Was it supposed to be impressive that she didn’t cry? Was she supposed to be crying? Imagine how hilarious it would’ve been if she simply chopped the onion while sobbing uncontrollably? That would’ve been high camp.
Instead, Mlle Boop gave us some lovely tableaus to look at, but that was about it. It was all show, no talent. Her eating a bite of the onion at the end was the funniest part.
Boop’s runway look wasn’t too far off from her Talent Show – fun to look at from certain angles, but missing substance. An elegant, red, high-necked dress with gold tendrils and leaves formed into a sash across it created some interesting angles when it was in motion, but as fashion it was quite plain.
I loved the hair though! #hairgoals
I feel as though my reaction to Xilhouete on Drag Race Philippines has already colored my reception to Mlle Boop and will continue to do so all season long. I thought Xilhouete was too subtle for almost all of the season right up until I realized she was storming the finale. In Boop I saw a similar cabaret-owning business-woman with subtle fashion and decided to trust that her experience would make it impactful.
Based on “Bonjour Iedereen,” I think Boop is hyper-focused on visuals and what her drag will look like both in frozen moments and in motion, but all of that consideration is honed for a club stage. On TV, her drag is coming off quite small – and I’m not sure that’s something fixable in an eight-episode run.
#8 Peach (was Pre-Season #8)
Peach didn’t show any particular weak spots, but didn’t showcase any particular strengths, either. She’s utterly charming, but in a cast stacked with seasoned performers who walk a fashion equally as well as Peach can I fear she will struggle to be unique.
Peach entered on the line, “Tu vois ma main? Je suis juste en dessous, fille.” Basically, “Hey [waving], I’m down here.” Or, did she say, “Tu vois, maman?” meaning something more like “Mom, look at me now!” I’m not sure, and the French subtitles and the English subtitles disagree with each other.
(Also, to me it sounds like she says something different that ends in “fait”? Maybe it’s just her accent.)
Update! Francophone reader Chansey explained that Peach says “fille” at the end of her sentence, which the subtitles missed and I could hear (but didn’t understand in her accent). Chansey says they’d translate it as “You see my hand ? I’m just below, girl.”
Peach is disarmingly charming and I love her upcycled look, but she doesn’t seem like a very big personality in the room. What I do get from her is that she was raised on American Drag Race. She says she learned English from the show, but I also just get a heaping helping of mannerisms from US queens from her in the interview chair.
I’m not saying Peach is copying anyone, just that she easily translates to the American drag idiom more than these other queens. She’s an easy queen for international viewers to love.
I loved Peach’s dramatic bellydancer look and wet hair for her “Sword Dance” Talent Show, but I wanted more dance and more sword from her sword dance!
She briefly balanced a sabre on her head while walking dramatically. That was it. I was waiting for it to start right up until it ended.
Peach completed the assignment on the runway. Her dress had massive hip panniers that draped a massive Belgian flag train behind her. It was aces on sheer volume, but a bit dull on actual fashion and styling.
I think part of the problem for me was her following the literal Belgian flag by putting the yellow in the middle of her outfit. It feels like having the dress be black or red would’ve popped more – especially with blonde hair.
Peach will need to show some steely nerves and obvious talents in the next few weeks if she wants to shift her placement out of fodder phase and into the top half of this cast that’s packed with serious competition. I can imagine her picking off a few of the queens above her, but to do that she’ll need to show a considerably louder voice and stronger perspective on drag than she brought to this episode.
#9. Amanda Tears (was Pre-Season #10)
Amanda Tears narrowly escaped a first elimination on “Bonjour Iedereen” with drag that was full of details but lacking a coherent perspective.
Amanda entered with a line entirely en anglais, “I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m ready for my beer!”
No one in the cast knew who she was. That’s interesting, given that everyone else in the cast has a connection with someone. The Belgian drag scene seems somewhat insular. What is Amanda up to that she is unknown to them all?
Her entrance look completely lived up to my Pre-Season observations that she is a “stylist” before she is a drag queen. It’s a hodgepodge of an outfit that doesn’t lack for visual impact but does lack for making a single lick of sense. I love her oversized knit sweater, but the random zip ties? The rainbow underwear worn on the outside of silver pants? What are these choices! It seems like her sense of style is “put on everything.”
It’s Amanda Tears’ “put on everything” aesthetic that made her Talent Show so puzzling to me. For a queen whose drag looks and feels like “everything, everywhere, all at once,” her so-called “striptease” felt surprisingly bare – and not in the nude way. Her “talent” amounted to some pacing back and forth and then dropping an obvious reveal cloak to reveal a little black dress.
I dug Amanda’s sultry original track (was that her singing?!), but I felt like there was so much more she could have done with it! She could have played with the reveal longer. She should have had another reveal afterwards. And, having to laboriously add black tears to her face with a dropper in the middle of the act took all the magic away from the moment. If her black tears had been a surprising reveal, they would have had more impact.
I chalk a lot of that up to inexperience. At 21 years old (and no more than three years into doing drag), I just don’t think Amanda has the instincts to play up those moments to make them more impactful. It’s a pity, because I think she had the raw material for a good Talent Show – one that would have been better than many of her competitors. A properly paced burlesque routine with the same song and the same outfit and a less overt crying gag might’ve been best-in-show.
I could almost get on board with Amanda Tears’s runway outfit, but her denim dress was distractingly shapeless. What was going on with the upturned hem in the front that looked as though it was tucked into her bosom? I could not figure it out for the life of me. It’s not like it formed an interesting shape or created a defined bustline. Perhaps it would’ve worked if the underside of the dress was lined with a different color from the flag, but rendering it all as denim-on-denim simply made it hard to parse.
I don’t think I was too far off in my Pre-Season ranking of Brittany and Amanda at #9 and #10, considering they both lip synced in this first episode! To her credit, Amanda brought some define sass to her lip sync. It’s hard to imagine Amanda Tears conquering any of these other queens to make it past Episode 2, but perhaps she’s a better actress than she is a stylist.
Eliminated in 10th Place: Brittany Von Bottoks (was Pre-Season #9)
Brittany Von Bottoks entered with a timid “C’est bien ici Drag Race Belgique?” (“All good here?”)
That defined her run on this first episode. She simply didn’t take up enough space or occupy enough volume – even in her lip sync.
I love a good “Muppet Hunter Couture” drag look. The problem with these sort of stuffed-animal cannibalizations is that it’s difficult to tell a coherent color story, and without one the shape of the look can wind up a muddle.
That Brittany combined her muppet muddle with clown face, rainbow leggings, and ball pit hair makes it hard to know where to focus. It certain has visual impact, but I don’t know if that’s a positive thing.
Even in an actual comedy challenge, comedy on Drag Race is always a high-difficulty endeavor. It’s hard to get a room warmed up to roaring laughter in 60 seconds just by talking to them. That’s made doubly hard during a Talent Show when you aren’t surrounded by other comedy acts.
Brittany Von Bottoks got in a few good lines that I expected to earn at least a few chuckle, but her delivery was decidedly unfunny, I think there was a way to garner laughs with the same script (like her “always get paid first” line), but she played it all so subtly and without a rhythm.
I low-key loved Brittany Von Bottoks’s runway look, and it seemed like the judges did, too! It is a severe 80s punk outfit with competing color-blocked patterns that I would’ve expected from Couenne or Peach, but also would look right at home on Rita Baga. Brittany’s bottom lashes still bug me, but I adored her two-toned wig.
If this episode was judged on looks alone, she would have been safe – or, even high!
Ultimately, I think Brittany Von Bottoks carried herself with the least amount of certainty of everyone in this cast. Even if she had merited a few more laughs in her Talent Show, it didn’t feel as though she had the sheer nerve it would take to crack into the top half of this cast. I hope her drag style continues to evolve past this too-brief run on the show, because the DayGlo take on DIY punk she showed from entrance to exit is unique and engaging.