In 1994 Las Hermanas Vampiro, one of the most important shows for the Mexican LGBTQI+ community and pioneers of the Mexico’s Drag Queen scene, probably never imagined what would happen years after. The show was a trailblazer, waiving a flag of rebellion against macho culture, heteropatriarchy, and of course, all the canons imposed by country’s conservative society of the early 90’s.
However, 25 years later, Mexico’s Drag Queen culture has reached its most prominent moment, thanks to the creation of spaces intended to make it more visible and accepted. Examples include, La Carrera Drag de la CDMX (Mexico City’s Drag Race), which has been presented each year at Teatro Garibaldi since 2011, and productions like La Más Draga, now entering its second season.
Every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Mexico City time, crowds of fans from various Latin American cities tune in to YouTube and marvel the magic and creativity of each competitor, who come from different Mexican cities like Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mérida.
Each competitor brings unique characteristics to La Más Draga 2, showing the Drag movement’s vibrancy and vitality that little by little is captivating the region’s imagination.
Mexican Drag Queen culture is on full display, setting it apart from other international Drag cultures. Often invoking the surrealism and mysticism of Mexican culture and traditions, this creative disruption leaves countless viewers in awe and amazement.
Imagine this: the Virgen de Guadalupe transformed into a piñata. Or a Santa Muerte. El Santo Malverde or a Baby Jesus walking down the runway. The narrative is clearly subversive.
But is La Más Draga just a Mexican version of RuPaul’s Drag Race? No, not even close. While we must recognize the importance and influence icons like RuPaul, nevertheless, the Mexican Drag Queen movement has its own institutions and important figures.
Paris Bang Bang, a prominent pioneer, leads the Mexico City Drag scene, and currently plays a critical role in La Más Draga 2. Her knowledge of the scene and competitors elevates Paris Bang Bang to “Madrina” status.
Then there is the influence of Latin America pop culture. Famous names like Thalia, Paulina Rubio, Gloria Trevi and Daniela Romo match perfectly with others like Chavela Vargas, Lucha Villa, Lola Beltrán and of course, Juan Gabriel.
While money might be a challenge to competitors, contestants are still able to create the most stunning and flawless outfits to show the judges and the public.
In addition, the show is all about inclusion. It might be a bit controversial to see a cisgendered woman transformed into a Drag Queen, but Itzel (a.k.a Alexis 3XL) makes it clear that gender should not be a barrier to doing what you love. Thanks to her unique and innovative style (a combination between cosplay and Gothic influences) she has emerged as one of the favorites to be La Más Draga this year.
Drag culture is not is only about being glamorous. It is an opportunity to articulate a radical concept or vision of one’s personality. Amelia Waldorf, one of the show’s most provocative competitors does this masterfully. They rock a horror-chick-flick-style to amaze the judges, and remarks on their style.
“If something combines lots of blood and lots of pink, it’s probably me,” they told Latino Rebels.
This 21-year-old thinks very seriously about the bravery required to be a Drag Queen in a country with a pervasive macho culture, while also wanting to be valued as an artist.
“Sometimes, people or clubs want to pay you with beers or something instead of money, which doesn’t helps us,” they noted, “but platforms like La Más Draga are so helpful to make people understand the real value and price of our work, and see us as the artists we are.”
Leandra Rouse, one of the show’s nine competitors who began his career in the United States, has an important perspective on the differences between the Drag scene in both countries. For Leandra, Mexico offers the platform he was looking for to share his art with the world. He also feels that the support in Mexico is more palpable. The “mothers” and “daughters” of Mexico City’s Drag scene take their roles seriously. When one Drag Queen decides to become a “mother,” it means they guide and support “daughters” at the starts of their careers, displaying a sense of responsibility and commitment for Drag culture.
Both Amelia and Leandra agree that the scene still needs more visibility. The narratives also need to center on the artistry and humanity of the culture without prejudice. The lack of awareness has led to dangerous stereotypes that can lead to violence and exclusion. Shows like La Más Draga provide a powerful platform to show the world that Mexico is on the cutting-edge of Drag Queen culture, and must be recognized as a centerpiece for Latin America and across the world.
Diana K. Pinacho López is an Afro-Mexican storyteller. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications Sciences from the UNAM. Diana has written for several outlets, including El Universal, Publimetro, Yahoo! and Cultura Colectiva. Follow more on her blog “Sofá de Letras.”