It’s time for the second Drag Race season of 2023 – in a new country, but fronted by a familiar face: Drag Race Belgique Season 1 hosted by two-time Canada finalist Rita Baga! The show premieres on February 16, so it’s time to check out this inaugural cast of 10 Belgian drag queens for my pre-season Power Ranking.
I write these Power Rankings not to judge these queens and their drag, but to have fun trying to predict what their drag and their editing says about their placement on the show. Part of that is 15 years of examples of what aspects of drag do well on Drag Race, but a lot of it is the amount of confidence, experience, and adaptability artists bring to the show.
Or, said another way, we’re looking closely at their Charisma, Uniquness, Nerve, and Talent.
My typical pre-season rules apply: I’ll spend two minutes looking at these artists’ social media feeds, examine their promo looks, and then watch their “Meet The Queens” segment twice (with the subtitles on, of course!).
That’s it! Then, I’ll make my totally blind, no-spoilers try at ranking their chances to win the show.
Part of what I love about Drag Race‘s worldwide franchises is that they often exist outside of the the homogenizing effect the US franchise has on drag. Queens all over the world have access to the same social media, but in other countries what will bring fans out to bars and clubs differs greatly from the states. Even after four Ru-hosted seasons of Drag Race UK, its queens do not feel as “same-y” as most of a brand new US cast can often feel.
I know very little about Belgium and its culture – and, especially nothing about it’s queer culture! I’m excited to listen and learn as I respond to the show, but I also invite those of you who are more familiar to point me towards facts or resources so I can study up!
Just from checking out the Instagram’s of these ten queens, it seems like we might be in for the most gender-bending, androgynous series of Drag Race. There’s a lot of playing with gender signifiers from this cast, and not all of them “erase their face” the way queens are often expected to do in the states.
I have a certain predisposition for drag art that has that slight edge of androgyny to it form growing up on things like David Bowie and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It will be interesting to see how that plays with the judges, especially Rita Baga as head judge.
Also, trend alert: thin brows!
(Another cultural difference I noticed: outside the US, people still use Facebook a lot more, so public figures still have active Facebooks and don’t tend to use LinkTrees as much! That’s true in NZ as well.)
Between that, the fact that this is another French-speaking season (I’ll be able to understand some stuff!), and what might be the most-gorgeous promo videos of all of Drag Race herstory, I am so ready dig into this season when it debuts on February 16. If you want to watch Drag Race Belgique you can sign up for WowPresentsPlus to watch the many worldwide Drag Race franchises. (Note that if you’re in the US you will need to use a VPN to “visit” another country to see the US Franchise.)
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 – Pre-Season Meet The Queens Power Ranking
#1. Mademoiselle Boop
The first thing I said to myself when I saw Mademoiselle Boop’s promo was “FIRST OUT.” Basic robes and colorful, graphic make-up screamed “inexperienced queen” to me.
I’ve never changed my mind so quickly between seeing a promo look and hearing a promo interview.
It’s obvious from Boop’s Meet The Queens interview that she is a canny and experienced queen who simply dressed to meet the astrological prompt. This look isn’t anything like what she wears across her social media. I think that’s a good thing and a bad thing. She isn’t going to try to fit her existing looks into the runway prompts, but we almost may lose her own sense of style along the way.
She also has a complete ease with speaking to the camera. You can tell she is an experienced podcaster who is used to hearing (and editing) herself talking, because she is warm, charming, and direct-to-the-point.
From the looks of her Instagram, Boop seems to be a consummate professional with a slick take on drag that gives “former showgirl who’s the boss bitch now (but still does numbers on the weekends).” There is something slightly austere to her looks, so much so that I feel like the colorful promo is her way of saying “LOOK – I CAN BE FUN.”
Boop is inspired by musical theatre, she lives for performing cabaret, and she’s a businesswoman with her own podcast empire. Despite being initially unimpressed with her promo, this queen screams “first season winner to me.” She’s the kind of brand ambassador Drag Race can trust to represent them all around the world. Plus, she seems like someone Rita Bega will really enjoy.
I think Boop will be headed to the finals of Drag Race Belgique unless she loses her sense of self in trying to fulfill each runway prompt in a unique fashion.
#2. Susan (from Grindr)
From the first moments of her Meet The Queens it’s obvious that Susan (né Susan from Grindr) will be bringing the camp to this season of Drag Race Belgique.
That’s not just evident from her silvery space-alien jump suit and her randomly chewing on her accessories, but from the way she interviews. “I hate drag queens,” she says, “so it’s going to be fun.”
It seems like she is always that acerbic. It’s how she talks. That plays a lot better on Drag Race than queens with a “look at me, look at me!” quality who say absurd lines and then pause for applause. Susan’s quirkiness feels like it’s genuinely her personality, which means she won’t struggle to manufacture moments with it in the competition.
I don’t know what I was expecting from Susan’s social media, but it wasn’t what I found! Susan presents a severe look inspired by Annie Lennox or Pink with a hairy chest – feminine but exaggerated with an edge of nervy humor.
Yet, her space alien look doesn’t feel like a total departure from the rest of her drag. It’s simply how Susan would do astrology.
Susan strikes me as a queen who can do extremely well at Drag Race. She has personality, glamour, camp, and an ease at speaking to the camera. Most importantly, she has uniqueness! I have a feeling that Rita “The Alien Actress” Baga isn’t going to be impressed by queens who simply serve glamour. Looking at Rita, Priyanka, Icesis, Gisèle, and other stars of the Canadian franchise, they all have an X-factor that it feels like Susan shares. I think that will work in her favor.
Based on this brief glimpse, I expect Susan to make a deep run on Drag Race Belgique unless her quirkiness simply doesn’t translate well to the performance challenges.
#3. Athena Sorgelikis
Athena Sorgelikis’s promo look is a space empress come to Earth to sink her heel into your neck, and I love it.
She has a certain severity to her look that’s matched by her confident, nearly-brusque tone in her Meet The Queens. I think one of the most-positive indications of how a queen will perform on her season is her ability to credibly insist she believes she will win during these canned interview segments. Self-belief counts for a lot on Drag Race.
However, up-close there is also a severity to her makeup on camera. Her black-lined lips look like a mustache, and the greyish highlighter on her chin reads as 5’0-clock shadow. I’m not saying I could do any better! It’s a difficult thing to adapt stage drag make-up to on-camera drag make-up and these are surmountable problems. I simply wonder how ready Athena is for the big stage, bright lights, and HD cameras of Drag Race.
Athena has a tall face with a square masculine jaw, and I enjoy how she feminizes it without erasing its shape completely. She has a handful of signature brow looks, including a sweeping brow with an upturned outer edge that creates interesting shapes with the frame of her face.
She also has years of interesting fashions on her Instagram, often with a slight avant garde twist. It’s an aesthetic I find very appealing.
Athena strikes me as a queen I’m predisposed to enjoy. Does she have the performance chops to win an entire season? Her Insta and TikTok are bare of videos, so that will be a surprise! I think on confidence alone she’ll at least make it to the middle of the season, but it will be interesting to see if she can adapt her craft to make it to the finale.
#4. Edna Sorgelsen
In her Meet The Queens, Edna Sorgelsen comes off as exactly the kind of drag queen the first season of a new Drag Race franchise wants to crown. She’s pretty, she’s confident, she’s funny, and there’s something just offbeat enough about her drag that it’s not easy to compare her to anyone else.
Her promo outfit is both confusing and a perfect solution to a “floating in space” prompt. It’s confusing because her body is lost in all the folds of the robe. However, when it comes to solving for the prompt, I think Edna nailed it. All the many layers of her robes were transfixing to watch as she floated around in zero gravity.
From her Instagram, it looks like Edna Sorgelsen tends to portray a pretty, feminine version of drag that borders on serving “realness” but with a vein of camp in her performances. She’s also a co-podcastress with Mademoiselle Boop, which should make for an interesting dynamic on the show.
I had a hard time absorbing and recalling Edna’s social media looks. It’s not that they aren’t good, but they aren’t always STRIKING. I think the big question about Edna on the show is whether she will bring the more casual side of her drag we see on her Instagram, or more fashionable and conceptual looks like her promo.
I had her ranked much lower just from seeing her social media, but I found Edna’s Meet The Queens to be one of the strongest in the cast. If she had the budget to spend on the runway prompts, she could be a serious contender. I believe she is the right sort of queen to win Drag Race Belgique Season 1.
I saw Valenciaga’s social media before I watched her Meet the Queen interview, and the two tell a similar story with different outcomes.
In Meet the Queens, Valenciaga is soft-spoken and tentative. Of the entire cast, she was the one queen who struck me as not being experienced in speaking to camera. That is almost always the sign of a mid-out on Drag Race. It’s one thing to be like Aquaria, who was famously stilted in her Meet the Queens but still had plenty to say. It’s another to seem like you’re always on the verge of being lost for words.
Then there is Valenciaga’s social media…
Valenciaga has the most well-maintained Instagram in the cast, and her looks are INCREDIBLE. She plays with the limits of how to proportion her face in a way that teases at transformational pop goddesses like Madonna and Gaga. She also shows range in her fashion, from businesswoman to pinup girl, always with a dash of goth.
Her promo look is consistent with that aesthetic. Almost all of the queens relied on draping and layers for visual impact for their floating videos. Valenciaga feels like the only artist who made sure her garment would be high fashion first before worrying about how it would float.
That leaves me torn on Valenciaga’s placement. I am incredibly excited by her drag. Based on social media alone I had her ranked #1. On the other hand, if I use my typical standards of ranking Meet The Queens, she is going to be in 6th – 8th place – someone who survives the initial fodder but doesn’t stand out in Drag Race’s typical mix of performance challenges.
On the other other hand, she is the only queen in this cast with a dedicated page for her event schedule! That tells me she’s might be a more-reliable performer than I suspect based on her interview.
I’m hedging my bets and putting Valenciaga slightly on the high side of the season, but I’m saying now for the record: if Valenciaga comes out of her shell during the competition then I think she may destroy the rest of this Drag Race Belgique cast.
#6. Mocca Bonè
Mocca Bonè’s promo outfit is hard to look at.
It has colors on ruffles on accents. All of that completely swallows her and makes her head look tiny compared to the rest of her body. Yes, when she parts her skirts her impossibly-long legs are impossible to ignore – but there’s a lot of busy-ness surrounding them.
Mocca Bonè is originally from Columbia and “adopted” by Belgium. We saw how that went on Drag Race France for Lolita Banana. She was constantly undervalued, endured micro-aggressions from the other queens, and her cultural signifiers were often treated as mere costuming. Even with a set of judges that included a black person and a French queen living in the states, it often felt like they didn’t have the contextual awareness to appreciate Lolita’s Franco-Mexican take on drag.
I’d hate for the same to be true of Bonè on Belgique and for that to define how far she can push her placement on the show. I think the difference may be down to Rita Baga. Canada in general and Québec in specific are much more multi-cultural settings than France. Rita’s outsider take at the Belgique judging table might make it a more accepting space for Mocca Bonè.
Or maybe it won’t be a factor at all! Just because these two queens come from Latina America it doesn’t mean they will have a single thing in common. It feels like Mocca Bonè’s drag features less of cultural heritage than Lolita Banana’s. Bonè is all about a more-is-more aesthetic.
Also, I’ve never seen anyone who highlights quite like Bonè did in this promo look. I feel like she is actually contouring with highlight.
It’s obvious from Mocca Bonè’s socials that she serves high glamour alongside body-ody-ody, which makes the juxtaposition of her glittering beard even more striking. However, what I’m not getting is a sense of her ability to edit. There’s just SO MUCH TO LOOK AT in every single look, from the frills on her garments to things affixed to her head.
“More is More” plays well on Drag Race to a point, but from there you have to be able to edit. In her interview, she said she’d “like to be the shock factor all of the time,” but if you’re always shocking can it be shocking anymore?
I suspect Mocca Bonè is going to be a fierce and clever performer, but I wonder to what extent she can hone her personal aesthetic to tell a clear and singular story on the runway. I think that will be a major factor in determining if she can make it to the finale.
#7 Drag Couenne
Drag Couenne’s drag is glammed-up, punk rock, gender fxck, with a splash of horror.
That pushes every single button of what I love in drag art. From another queen, I’d think the mess of details in this promo look could not possibly be intentional. From Couenne, I’m sure it looks exactly how she wanted it to look.
When it comes to her confidence on camera, I’m less certain. Drag Couenne speaks surely, but compared to the other queens she had a tendency to ramble. It’s endearing, but she hasn’t mastered the ability to present herself concisely to the camera. That could hurt her in several Drag Race staple challenges.
I was obsessed with Drag Couenne as soon as I loaded her Instagram. The gloss level of her looks is turned up 1000% compared to her promo. That can’t all be lighting and photo retouching. It’s clear there’s a lot of range in her drag.
However, I will admit that her make-up comes off a lot smaller when it’s in motion on a video than when she uses to it create interesting angles in a still photograph. It doesn’t always work from every angle.
Couenne has a model’s body and an artist’s eye, and she seems to be a feral performer. The question is how much all of that will translate onto the sometimes severe structure of Drag Race. An outfit like her promo look will get read on the main stage. Is someone this punk the kind of queen who will win an inaugural season – which tend to stick to the fundamentals of drag in the host country?
If Drag Couenne cultivates a her messiness in a deliberate way, her personal brand might be enough to carry her deep into the season. However, I’d be (pleasantly) surprised if she was the the winner of Drag Race Belgique.
Peach is the queen in the cast whose personality is “sexy” and “party.”
I don’t say that to read her. This is a common aesthetic that Drag Race casts for – a younger queen who is all about serving body and turning the party.
The question immediately becomes if there’s depth to a queen’s drag once you’ve seen their sexy body at the party.
Peach isn’t the most confident in speaking to the camera, but there are hints of that depth of skill. She says she is a dancer and a seamstress, which are two things that can take you far on Drag Race.
I think this promo look is on the weaker side compared to what some of the other queens are showing off. It’s the only one of the promos that reads simply as “a dress” without requiring other qualifiers. Also, Peach’s barely-there brows are an interesting choice compared with her high hair line – it leaves a lot of real estate untouched. I wonder if this is her signature look, or if she was shooting for something slightly spacey and alien for this astrological promo theme.
On her social media, Peach gives me “blonde model who might steal your wallet” realness that feels like a cousin of Katya and Bimini. She loves showing off her legs and midriff. But, there’s not much to see – less than two dozen entries on her Instagram, which is the only social media I can find.
That means Peach remains somewhat of a mystery. She’s a young queen in a cast stacked with several drag veterans. Does her breezy, model-y style belie the level of drag craft beneath? Or, will she have trouble adapting quickly to the demands of the competition compared to pillars of the Belgium drag scene?
#9. Brittany Von Bottoks
The first thing that jumps out at me about Brittany Von Bottoks in her meet the queens is HARDNESS.
She’s wearing a stiff, shiny wig. Her makeup emphasizes reflections and lines. Her masculine aspects of her features are not so much erased as they are highlighted. Also, she speaks pointedly with a caustic, humourous edge.
There’s nothing wrong with any of that. In fact, I get the sense that it’s all very intentional. Brittany has an extremely idiosyncratic drag look. Her overall presentation gives me a slight whiff of Dragula’s Disasterina, who famously put up a firm wall between her drag personality and her actual self.
Checking out Brittany Von Bottoks on Instagram shows off that her strangely compelling space-age jumpsuit plus tiered lace skirt isn’t an outlier amongst her looks. She has a knack for taking vintage pieces and juxtaposing them with hyper-modern elements. That might read well on the Drag Race runway if she can avoid it looking too off-the-rack.
Brittany’s make-up reminds me of early Trixie without actually looking like Trixie, in that Brittany sometimes plays with the shapes of her face so much that they almost become abstract. I’d love to see her push that MORE in the way Trixie has over the years. Right now it can come off as over-exaggerated beauty make-up, when I think there’s something more interesting happening there.
I’m excited by many elements of Brittany Von Bottoks, but I’m not sure how she will play on a brief first season of a new franchise. I don’t think it will offer her enough time to hone her aesthetic into something sharper. There has to be something warm, authentic, and focused available beneath all this hardness if Brittany is going to make a deep run on Drag Race Belgique.
#10. Amanda Tears
I didn’t get a strong sense of personality from Amanda Tears (fka Milla Glace) in her Meet The Queens interview.
She talks about how her drag informs being a stylist, and being stylist informs her drag. That definitely lends context to her social media looks, which tend to be assembled pieces rather than original haute couture. However, I worry that her stylist’s perspective leads to her underselling the potential impact of her personality and make-up.
She lets her clothes do a lot of the talking, but that won’t land her in the top for Drag Race’s gauntlet of performance challenges.
The first thing that stuck with me about Amanda Tears on Instagram is that her make-up is often minimal. She overdraws her lips (sometimes with a rounded top rather than a cupid’s bow) and wear a high slash of blush, she doesn’t contour very hard. Her brows are often low and light, or just completely non-existent.
I’ve seen this from a few different Drag Race Belgique queens, so perhaps it’s simply a popular aesthetic for Belgian drag. However, for Amanda Tears in specific the lack of brows alters the proportions of her face significantly and makes her seem less expressive.
I looked backward on her Instagram for her newest look with a more standard drag eye, and it adds a lot to her face. There’s just more real estate taken up by make-up.
If I’m reading her Instagram correctly, Amanda Tears is three years into her drag journey. That’s not nothing, but I think her casual style and low-key make-up are going to get drowned out by the more experienced high-glam queens on this cast. I can’t see total weirdo Rita Baga getting excited for drag that’s this plain. While Amanda could survive an initial cut depending on the first challenge, I just cannot see her knocking off queen after queen in Drag Race Belgique’s line-up of experienced performers.