We’ve only had two weeks to get acquainted with the queens of Drag Race Belgique, but it’s already time to launch the third Drag Race season of 2023 – again, in a new country! We’re flying north from Belgium to Scandinavia, where Drag Race Sverige will debut in Sweden on 5 March, 2023! That means it’s time to meet the queens of Sverige for my pre-season Power Ranking.
What exactly am I ranking before the season even begins? Usually I watch the “Meet The Queens” interviews of the cast, but Sverige didn’t produce any! That puts me at a major disadvantage for pre-season ranking, since I can’t tell much about how the queens do on camera without being able to control their own edit. Instead, I’ll scroll these artists’ social media feeds and closely examine their promo looks.
It’s not much of a “get to know you,” but that’s all I get before I make my totally blind, no-spoilers try at ranking their chances to win the show.
Remember: my Power Rankings are for fun. I don’t write them to criticize these amazing drag artists. The point of these posts is to give these performers the thousands of words of attention and analysis they each so richly deserve for their art – all while trying to predict what their drag and their editing says about their placement on the show.
Some of those predictions come from watching 15 years and 30+ seasons of Drag Race, but ultimately it comes down to the camera presence and quick wit of each queen.
Or, perhaps we could say it has to do with their Charisma, Uniquness, Nerve, and Talent.
If you want to watch Drag Race Sverige when it premieres on 5 March you can sign up for WowPresentsPlus to watch it anywhere outside of Sweden. WowPresentsPlus also features the many other worldwide Drag Race franchises (though note that generally each franchise is blacked out in its home country, since you’re meant to watch it on local television.
Läsare, start your engines. Och må den bästa Drag Queen vinna!
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 Sverige Season 1 – Pre-Season Meet The Queens Power Ranking
#1. Admira Thunderpussy
Admira Thunderpussy’s promo look is straight-up glamour and I enjoy that. Drag Race promos often enforce a theme of some kind, whether it’s drag racing or being encrusted in diamonds. I know that’s great for a cohesive campaign, but I’d rather see a queen being her ideal self.
I love the shape of this dress on Admira’s body and how she is modeling it. There’s a real Jessica Rabbit, va-va-voom quality to how she is wearing this look. She knows exactly how to pivot her knees to give the illusion of her legs being whittled down to a fine point. Also, check out her shape – broad flat hips and a tiny nipped waist. This is a queen who is going to deliver classic DRAG.
Going super-close-up, I love that the glitter effect on the dress is comprised of a blend of crystals, paillettes, and chunkier stones. It gives texture from a distance but visual interest up close.
Amira’s make-up is relatively on-trend for this moment in drag – big light brows, blended white above the eyes, and a tiny swordfish nose. (The doors Magnolia Crawford opened). What sticks out to me as being different and all her own are the jewels under her eyes and the overdrawn Amanda-Lepore-style lips (might be a little bit overboard).
I get “experienced showgirl” with a vein of goofiness from Admira Thunderpussy’s social media. She has so many amazing fashions already in her closet that I fully expect her to crush the runway. She’s more of a strutter than a dancer, but she also has comedy chops on display in spoken word lip syncs.
She strikes me as the drag veteran who makes it to the finals… and, on the European franchises that’s often the queen who wins (see Holland and España!). I’m not saying they tend to reward queens just for being experienced. If anything, it’s that they don’t try to sneer at and belittle experience the way American Drag Race often does. The European shows seem to really value queens who have honed their skills rather than looking for an ingenue’s perspective on drag, and Admira could be exactly what they’re looking for.
#2. Vanity Vain
Vanity Vain delivers a very effective, simple promo look.
I’m not saying that massive peaked shoulders and chaps are simple. What I’m talking about is that this look is streamlined. Black plus a pattern. Body plus one accentuated shape. Simple. Effective.
The thing about simplicity is that sometimes it involves a lot of fine details! Note how the lingerie is all a single piece, with the lace at the crotch mirrored just under the bust. Also, the see-through material at the bust is the same as the material on the gloves. Is it actually all one piece down to the glove, or did Vanity Vain just sweat the details and make gloves out of a matching fabric?
Notice the spread of stones on ALL of the plaid with a single, chunky, iridescent stone at the peak of the shoulders. Also, note that when the tiny strip of plaid repeats on her corset belt it is also stoned.
(Also, from the looks of her socials, Vanity already had this look before the show. Whether it had this many finely-considered details to begin with or she added them with the promo in mind, I’m impressed.)
I also love Vanity’s eye make-up. It’s massive! The outside tips of her wings extend all the way to her temples, and her brows kiss her wigline. This is a queen who is not afraid to use up the real estate on her face. I also love the precision of the glittered cut crease and that she buffed out her pointy nose contour so it wouldn’t be so obvious.
The only element that gives me pause across this entire look is the lip. There’s just not much shape to Vanity’s overdraw, and the natural line of her own lips sticks out. I’m certainly not one to be the lip-blending police (that shit is hard), but given how broad the top of Vanity’s paint is, there’s something a bit off about the bottom of her face around her jaw. I’m not sure if it’s her lips or that her contour needs to angle slightly more up to match the angle of her eyes. It looks like the bottom third of her face is much more masculine in shape than the top part.
Vanity Vain is a frequent (and high-quality) Lady Gaga impersonator, but there’s a lot more to her drag than that. Any questions I had about the proportions of her make-up were smacked right out of my mouth when I checked out her Instagram. This is a queen who can turn many different looks.
Also, Vanity really pads – seeing photos of her mostly-nude as a boy I was shocked by how tiny her body looks!
What struck me the most across Vanity Vain’s socials is that she’s had a breadth of drag experience. She has made looks overnight. She has learned exact choreography from a video. She has performed on massive stages. These are the kinds of experiences that can help you survive the most-turbulent moments of the Drag Race machine.
I always say, “you’re only as good as your worst rehearsal,” and it seems like Vanity has had a lot of time to rehearse.
#3. Santana SexMachine
I love the industrial quality of this outfit. It looks like a motocross outfit repurposed into a dress. The texture, the straps, the cut-outs, the high-viz yellow – it all really clicks for me.
The only element that bugs me are the hastily-applied stickers of her name. I don’t see the point of them as design elements, and they cover up part of the hemline of the bright yellow accents. Maybe she had to cover a hole? Who knows.
I also absolutely love the styling of this. The shiny metallic platforms on her shoes thrill me. I dig the cartoonishly overlarge dog collar. I love that she still has the clips in her fingerwaves. It all makes sense together.
Also, Santana SexMachine has the most unusual, striking makeup out of the entire cast. She is the only queen with a non-standard, graphic brow out of all of these promo looks, and rendering it as black-on-yellow makes it really pop. I usually dislike a black lip, but there’s enough going on with the rest of Santana’s makeup that it doesn’t unbalance her face.
Santana SexMachine is SO TALL. That’s my big takeaway from her social media. She looks like a giantess, and she seems to know how to use her long lines to her advantage when it comes to fashion and modeling.
Santana has a distinct club kid bent to a lot of her looks. I was expecting some sassy, vampy drag based on her promo, but she also has some very unusual looks that are outside of the typical Drag Race box.
Where I’m not so convinced about Santana is the dynamics of her as a performer and her on-camera charisma. She knows how to hold a stage, but can she win a lip sync? And, is her personality going to pop on TV, or is she a bit more laid back?
When it comes to her drag talents, I have zero doubts about Santana SexMachine. It’s all about how she executes them on TV.
Fontana is giving us showgirl with this promo look.
“Showgirl” is an easy button to push to force us to make assumptions about your drag. You throw on that feathered backpack and we’re going to expect a queen who knows her way around a stage, who can serve body and face, and who has long, glamourous legs.
This look is a hodgepodge of different pieces and layers, but if I’m being honest I think you can get away with that when everything is rendered in a single color. From a distance this just looks like golden armor festooned with embellishments. Only when you get close up is it evident just how many different things are happening (including some bunched-up pantyhose dangling from one side of her chest? Not sure what’s going on there.)
Parts of this are messy, but even with some messy details this look has major visual impact. I wish she had more of a waist, and I am altogether puzzled by the flesh-colored panties with a tiny peek of exposed belly above them.
Fontana has the smoothest makeup look of the entire cast. Her mug is so clean. She is wearing A LOT of make-up to give the impression that she’s not wearing too much makeup and it’s all blended beautifully.
Check out her subtle chin contour, the subtle dark contour at the bottom of her blush, and the highlight above it. Note how the outward slash of her brows broadens her face. Clock the perfect white wing sandwiched between black wings on each eye and how the inside corner of her black eyeliner comes to a TINY perfect point at her tear-duct.
This make-up excites me. This isn’t a queen who only knows how to do this one look. She is going to bring versatility in the face department.
My assumptions were confirmed by Fontana’s social media, which I saw well after checking out her promo image. She is a beauty influencer slash pop-star who knows her way around a make-up palette and who has put some out actual music to match her Ariana Grande fantasies.
I think that’s an an interesting combination for Drag Race. Often these particular ambitions are very separate for queens on the show. The beauty influencers don’t tend to be avid performers. The queens who describe themselves as “drag pop stars” often have never actually released their own music, they just like to look like pop stars. And, the queens who do release their own music often seem to have a sound that says more about their producers than themselves.
Fontana combines all of that in a way not many queens do (though Luxx Noir London does on Season 15). That’s thrilling to me! I want to see more all-around talents on Drag Race who aren’t waiting to get on the show to chase their dreams.
However, I question if a beauty influencer pop star will be the winner of a first season of a new Drag Race franchise. I feel like first seasons tend to pursue queens who are emblematic of their national drag, and Fontana might be too much of her own thing to be the winner.
#5. Imaa Queen
Now here is a queen with a perspective!
Imaa Queen said, “Oh, we’re gonna make this CONCEPTUAL.” She is covered in translucent blue lace from neck to ankles and her face is being swallowed by a massive, asymmetrical lion’s mane rendered in endless yellow vinyl ruffles.
I am fucking obsessed. OBSESSED. The mane. I cannot even. I kinda wish the dress hit the ground, but if you’re going to show off your shoes make sure they have more stones on them then all of the other queens in the cast are wearing. combined.
When you frame your face like this you have to make sure your makeup is REALLY on point. I’m not sure I can say that for Imaa Queen, if only because so much of this makeup look is about the stoning. And the stoning is REALLY on point. Do I like the lip shape? The eyes? The brows? The answer is: STONES. Imaa queen carried her concept into her makeup rather than do her standard drag face.
It’s all so smart. And, if you are gonna mention that one nail is falling off one of her vinyl gloves, that just proves how well-considered the rest of the look is.
Imaa Queen’s socials show off a lot of huge, conceptual looks that prove that her promo look wasn’t an outlier.
Where I’m left with concerns is how quickly she can execute these high-concept makeup looks, and to what extent she can easily pare them down to the sort of glamorous beauty drag Drag Race Sverige will demand. Also, to what extent was Imaa able to apply her typically over-the-top aesthetic to the runway brief with limited time to execute?
Imaa reminds me of Raja in her addiction to maximalism, but to pull that sort of opulence off on Drag Race you need a lot of focus and budget (and also to know when to get stoned and just let things be, if Raja is any indication). To then make it fun on top of that takes even more effort. I think of a queen like Yuri Guaii on Drag Race Down Under Season 2, who did manage to translate her aesthetic onto the show, but couldn’t figure out how to make her personality as loud as her fashion.
I’m not betting against Imaa. I see hints of all of that capability on her social media. It will all come down to how she put together her package for the show.
Elecktra’s look strikes me as very “I watch American Drag Race.”
I’m not saying it’s derivative of anyone! I simply get the sense that she has studied some existing promo looks and made deliberate choices in how to style her own.
This looks cohesive from afar and I was surprised to notice that is constructed of so many different layers and textures when I zoomed in. The gemmed and patterned bust is actually a shirt that is separate from the power-blue wrap and pink corset. What looks like a central jewel or brooch is actually the screen print of an eyeball. That might actually be a one-piece bodysuit, since I can just make out the same pattern at her crotch. That makes me think the long draping garment isn’t a dress, but simply a robe that she has carefully corseted together. The purple of the boots looks like it matches the body-suit, but it’s a different texture entirely – velvet or suede.
I want to be super-clear that pointing out these details is not a read! I’m truly fascinated by how Elecktra pulled this look together from such disparate elements to make it look cohesive. Many queens like to talk about how they are “stylists” when their styling is just layering vintage pieces on top of one another. Elecktra strikes me as a true stylist, who knows how to build a cohesive look out of many different parts. This give the illusion of being all one coordinated piece.
Even the choice to use a bodysuit with a printed pattern is smart, because it gives visual interest without having to add more stoning or appliqués. You don’t see many queens wearing a specific printed pattern on garments, but this shows it can work to your favor.
Elecktra’s make-up trends slightly more “femme queen beauty” than some of the other queens on the cast. A lot of that comes from small lips, a realistic, non-pointy nose contour, and brows with individual hair lines sketched in. Her eye make-up is small (for drag), and emphasizes the gorgeous natural shape of her eyes. She also uses a relatively soft amount of contour and goes with the classic “highlight the T-zone” method of amplifying the center of her face.
Also, her wigline is outstanding. That hair looks like it is growing right out of her scalp. Try to clock the lace. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
I wonder how this beauty drag is going to hold up on the Drag Race runway. In particular, Elecktra’s lips seem so small compared to the current trends in drag. And, if we’re being honest, she has enough face real estate to go bigger on her brows. (I say this with jealousy as someone who has barely any forehead for such endeavors).
The most-obvious thing about Elecktra’s socials is that she doesn’t share much of her drag.
It’s not that she’s not active, either! She shares plenty of her boy life, beauty tips, and posts with her exotic birds. Just not much drag.
I suppose after over 17 years as a drag queen you don’t feel the need to post every look or document every show. Yet, this gives me Lova Ladiva vibes from Drag Race France – lovely and experienced, but not ready to adapt quickly to what the show has to throw at her.
Can a queen who plays it this low-key on social media be the Next Drag Superstar of Drag Race Sverige? Honestly, social media doesn’t have much bearing on it one way or another. I think Elecktra’s makeup and stying talents in the promo photo speak for themselves. But, a lack of drag content on a season with no Meet The Queens means Elecktra has given us very few clues to how things will go. She could turn out to be a secret weapon! Or, maybe she’s so well-known in Sweden that she needs no introduction.
#7. Antonina Nutshell
Antonina Nutshell is in a pale pink button-up mini-dress with fringe at the bust, with white accents in the form of a corselet, gloves, and boots.
I struggle with what this look might be saying about Antonina. I love the washed out, nearly-white palette, but I feel like she could have leaned harder into a particular genre here. It is meant to be giving 60s mod per the skirt and boots, or Country Western based on the cleavage and fringe? How does the stiff, pearled, too-big neck-brace figure into this look other than to hide the edge of Antonina’s breastplate?
It’s all confusing. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to know about this queen. I guess maybe she’s goofy? A little bit retro? Her perspective isn’t coming through.
Antonina Nutshell’s makeup is tight to the middle of her face. Her eye shapes are angled slightly in and downward and her brows seem quite short. The wing on the inside of her eye pushes onto her nose, further emphasizing how centered all of her makeup is. She doesn’t paint much of a wing on the outside of her eye, instead extending it straight up to her brow with black shadow – stretching her face vertically. And, she does the classic Trixie Mattel hard cut of contour, but also pulls the edges up high to her temples – more vertical emphasis.
Fighting with all of that height is a wide, chunky lip with a thick, dark liner. Antonina paints out her top lip farther than her bottom one, which tends to give a bit of a moustache effect.
Antonina Nutshell serves a lot more makeup looks on her Instagram, so I’m less concerned about her promo makeup now than I was at first.
It’s also evident from her photos and captions that she’s primarily a comedy queen who works in UK nightlife. Regularly-gigging UK queens tend to be extremely experienced on stage, so Antonia will have some tricks up her… sleeve.
However, what I don’t see across her looks is a consistent aesthetic. It’s a lot of gig-ready outfits that look great, but not much in the way of a visual brand. Nor is there much high-end couture. With a strong cadre of fashion-focused queens this season, I fear Antonina might get boxed out of finale contention because she can’t keep up on the runway. On the other hand, she also might be the versatile queen who proves to be the most-adaptable to all of Drag Races many performance challenges.
I wouldn’t count her out early, but I do think the Drag Race Sverige runway will be make-or-break for her.
Endigo is doing DRAG and she wants you to know about it! This look could not be any more pink and it is accessorized within an inch of its life.
At the base of this is a short, pink, vinyl mini-dress with long sleeves and a pleated skirt. To that she adds a mini-corset, a chained harness, a necklace with her name on it, many plastic bracelets, and a massive wig-topper of transparent fabric loks which itself is topped with a bow.
I think this look gives a big impact taken all at once, but it falls apart a bit on closer inspection. The name-necklace over the chain halter really bugs me; I’m not sure she needed either. I’m also not wild about the low half-corset right on top of such a shirt, wide skirt. It makes her bust look extra low and it makes any illusion of her hips disappear due to the flare of the skirt. I feel like it’s slightly squashing Endigo, and see looks like she may be a tiny queen to begin with.
What I do love are the boots. They are wild! I love that the “boot” portion is just strips of vinyl given the illusion of structure by all of the lacing between them.
Getting up close on Endigo’s make-up reveals some interesting details.
Her cheeks and contour is very blended – she’s not a harsh contour kinda gal, except for when it comes to the stripe down her nose. I almost didn’t notice it at first because it gives such a good illusion of a long, straight nose and it marries to the highlight on her forehead perfectly. Not every bit of contour has to be about a carefully whittled illusion. Sometimes a big, broad stroke works even better to trick our brains.
I have some questions about Endigo’s eye look. I like her upper lashes and how they are heavier on the outside, which widens her eyes. But, I’m generally not a fan of lower lashes that wrap from this far on the side or which dip this low without following the angle of the eye. Endigo hasn’t filled in the space above them with white to enlarge her eye, so they just come off as droopy. They make her look like she has sad eyes.
Also, her blocky brows are so odd – they look like a single, almost-horizontal stripe of watercolor paint across her brow.
I have to confess, I’m excited for a Drag Race artist who is a legitimate rocker. We’ve certainly had some queens who love rock’and’roll, but I can’t think of any who can shred on electric guitar like Endigo does on social media.
She’s already a globe-trotting social media rocker and YouTube star. How hard could a Drag Race crown be?
The thing that immediately jumps out at me is that Endigo has a go-to drag face from which she rarely deviates. She sometimes renders it in different colors, but she has a consistent look. Further, I’d go so far as to say it’s very “optimized” for social media – it’s all about making the bottom two-thirds of her face feminine from a front-facing angle while the top of her face is covered with bangs.
(She also has a very standard look: mini-dress.)
There is nothing wrong with that. It’s practically The Trixie Mattel Story(TM). However, winning Drag Race is about versatility. That’s especially true when the judges zero in on something about your makeup early on. Even if Endigo has the right range of skills for Drag Race Sverige, she also needs a range of looks to go along with them.
This is another queen who I think will be incredibly charming, but I wonder about her ability to quickly adapt. Being a rock star might help her crush a challenge or two, but there will also be a design challenges and the need to transform her face for acting challenges and Snatch Game. Is she ready for all that? If so, I think her combination of cuteness and confidence could take her far in this competition.
#9. Almighty Aphroditey
Almighty Aphroditey might be slightly underdressed for the occasional of her global media debut on Drag Race Sverige.
She is wearing shredded silver lamé wrapped around her body, maybe with a little actual tin foil blended in for structure. It’s tied up with silver string and run through with silver beads.
I’ll admit that I don’t really get this look. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to say about Aphroditey and her drag. It isn’t doing her any favors when it comes to her shape – no thanks to that flat-across bustline! Even if a queen wanted to put the emphasis on serving body, I think this approach could be refined.
I thought I had a favorite element in her silver half-gloves with a mid-hand bracelet, but when I zoomed in on the glove I saw it was ripped.
Then we come to the make-up. Almighty Aphroditey is slathered in body glitter. It gives her a nice shimmer, but she’s wearing a literal stripe of it up her chest and onto her neck. It’s not giving a cleavage illusion or emphasizing her collarbones. Her face is similarly confusing. Her all-white eyes are murky and her brown brows are low enough that they could’ve just been her cut crease – especially since her eyeshadow continues above them.
Almighty Aphroditey has no social media presence. Does that mean she just doesn’t do drag all that often, or that she wiped everything clean in anticipation of the show to thwart snoopers like me?
I don’t things bode well with a queen with a promo look this odd and zero footprint on social media. Maybe that just means we’re in for a big surprise.