Meet the Queens of Drag Den Philippines
Who will be the first-ever Filipino drag supreme?
While today’s understanding of drag as an art form is only beginning to pick up steam, drag itself has long been in the Filipino people’s consciousness. Just take a look at films by Filipino comedian Dolphy like Ang Tatay Kong Nanay (1978) or the characters highlighted in sketch comedy program Bubble Gang.
The boom today centers on something more exacting: a direct focus on the art of drag itself. Aside from catching in-person shows, another popular way of experiencing this is through reality series on streaming that showcase high-energy performances, a diverse set of queens, and their just as diverse backstories.
If you want to enjoy more of the Philippines’ drag scene, check out the new series Drag Den Philippines available on Amazon Prime Video.
Head Inside the Drag Den
Unlike other reality competitions, Drag Den holds no eliminations. Instead, the queens must claw their way to the Top 3 by getting the most points throughout the show, much like the beauty pageants that are a mainstay in Filipino culture.
Each episode features a themed fashion segment, a showdown alternating between a fashion and a talent showcase, and a dragdagulan where contestants must stop their opponent from performing. Winners of the dragdagulan then gain a unique advantage in the next episode’s showdown.
Drag Den’s panel of judges includes Manila Luzon as the host of the show and “Drag Lord,” Sassa Gurl as the “Drag Runner,” and Nicole Cordoves as the “Drag Dealer.” The series also brings in weekly “Drag Enforcers,” a.k.a. guest judges. All these witty titles tie up to the set’s underground lair design, completing the whole parody of a drug cartel.
Produced by Cornerstone and Project 8, with Antoinette Jadaone and Rod Singh as creative directors and producers, the show markets itself as an original drag series “by Filipinos for Filipinos.” All episodes are currently available to watch on Prime Video.
Hail to the Queens: Meet the 8 Drag Den Cast Members
Learn more about the eight talented queens and find out who is still in the running to become the first-ever Filipino drag supreme.
O-A (short for Odasha Flop), known simply as Odasha, had been doing drag for three years and is of Emirati-Filipino descent. Some of her drag role models include Bob the Drag Queen, Monique Heart, Trixie Mattel, and herself.
Being born to Muslim parents, O-A wants to let the world know that religion should not have to define one’s importance or value. By joining Drag Den, she hopes that she can showcase her star power and talent, and represent her community in the process.
Maria Cristina enters the show with a fun fact: she’s actually the drag mother of her fellow contestant Shewarma and is the drag sister of Drag Race Philippines’ Brigiding. Manila Luzon, Shangela, Alyssa Edwards, and RuPaul are some of her role models, but she shares she also looks up to local drag queens Eva Papaya, Let Let Balthazar, Dee Dee Holliday, and Lumina.
She joined Drag Den because of the show’s tagline, “by Filipinos for Filipinos,” as she advocates supporting local culture.
With her remarkable track record in the show, Maria Cristina is now among the Top 3 queens who will battle it out for the crown in the grand finale.
Aries Night got her name from her zodiac sign (with her last name given by Manila Luzon due to her drag aesthetic). When asked why she joined Drag Den, Aries says she wanted to become a part of a pioneer group for a competition solely for Filipinos, one that isn’t trying to please an international audience. She also likes that the show focuses on the sisterhood between drag queens and not on who has the most assertive personality.
A little more about Aries: some of her drag role models, she shares, include Precious Paula Nicole, Vander Von Odd, Violet Chachki, and Jinx Monsoon.
Barbie-Q is the first openly transgender Drag Den contestant. Before auditioning, she asked who among her Facebook followers would like to see her join the reality competition. Another transgender user messaged her, later revealed to be the show’s creator, Rod Singh.
She joined, in part, to represent the transgender community to prove that they can also make it in competition shows like Drag Den. When it comes to her craft, her role models include Gorgeous Dawn, Kylie Sonique Love, Manila Luzon, Marla, and Olivia Lux.
In a Mega video featuring fellow drag queens Minty Fresh and Odasha, Shewarma (or Shewarma Rise) shared that she had already been doing drag for two years prior to joining Drag Den. Originally a theater actor, she started doing drag at the peak of COVID-19’s onslaught as the pandemic closed down many businesses, including theaters.
Even as the youngest contestant (at 22), Shewarma has made Drag Den history as one of the first three queens to make it to the grand finale.
Pura Luka Vega
How’s this for another history-making moment? Pura Luka Vega is the first bearded drag queen to ever join a Filipino drag show. She got her first name, she shares, from her friends, with her second name being a pun for a crazy person and her last name being lifted from singer Suzanne Vega. In the world of drag, her role models include Eva Le Queen, Sasha Velour, and Evah Destruction.
Pura Luka Vega joined Drag Den because its message resonated with her, as she wants to express that everyone can do drag and that no one should shame queer individuals for being who they are.
First known as Tanya Sativa, Naia Black got into drag through a friend. When she auditioned, she had only been doing drag for a year and celebrated her second year after filming the show. For Naia, Drag Den serves as an opportunity for growth (as she’s the youngest queen in the competition in terms of experience). Naia also hopes that as drag becomes more popular, many queens will become more open to newcomers like herself. Her drag persona is her way of expressing herself, and she uses her platform to help foster societal change.
Naia joins Maria Cristina and Shewarma in the queens’ final run toward becoming the Drag Den's first-ever winner.
A long-time performer in the Philippines, famous for her Lady Gaga impersonations, Lady Gagita’s drag journey began in 2010. She’s not a one-trick pony, however; she’s also known for her Katy Perry impersonations under the name Katy Perya.
Lady Gagita has performed in several key Pride Month events and enjoys being able to express her political stand through drag.