Paloma, figurehead in the first season of “Drag Race France”.
TELEVISION – They are ten when the adventure begins. This Thursday, August 4, there are only three of them. The three major finalists of the first edition of Drag Race in FranceFrench adaptation of American competition RuPaul’s Drag Race broadcast since June 25, every Thursday night on the France.tv Slash digital platform and on France 2 every Saturday, after Fort Boyard.
The competition, where drag queens compete in events that combine singing, theater, dancing and modeling, is no match for its big American brother. Week after week, he proves to be as entertaining, funny, touching and concerned in defending the interests and diversity of French drag. And this, regardless of strong messages of self-acceptance.
Among the strong personalities this season, one of them has pulled out of the game, Paloma. A fantastic impersonator of Fanny Ardant (and of Ludovine de La Rochère in secret), the queen of comedy also proved to be a fierce competitor on the catwalk, as evidenced by her interpretation of a sketch of the famous fashion illustrator Erté for the Haute Couture fashion show.
Paloma didn’t have her tongue in her pocket. Especially, when it comes to remembering that the art of drag isn’t just about rhinestones and glitter, or championing issues that cross the LGBT+ community The HuffPost he was interviewed.
The HuffPost : In some of the interviews you have given since the launch of Drag Race in France, you talk about the art of drag as a political act. What does that mean?
Paloma: From the moment I risked getting my ass kicked by wearing stilettos, a wig and make-up in the street, it was a political act. Drag is above all an art that subverts society, a society built according to heterosexual norms. Our art is to deconstruct gender. I myself feel the pressure of being a manly man, when I am not. I am still in society. It is important to open doors for the next generation, bad or not.
As long as there is homophobia and people insulting us in the streets or on social networks, there is a need for drag queens and drag kings to change things.
The HuffPost: The presence of the government of Caroline Cayeux, who had previously declared against marriage for all, provoked an outcry. What do you think?
Paloma: It just shows that the current government, which claims to be progressive, is actually implementing the conservative policy of François Fillon, but in disguise. The Manif pour tous, although it has the right to exist in the public space, is against laws that have been debated and passed, such as marriage for all and PMA for all. What they want is to question things that have been previously validated by the government. I find it very contradictory on the part of Emmanuel Macron to see him, now, on his side.
Also, when Caroline Cayeux talks “these people”I want to remind him “these people”, they are also voters of the government, they are voters, important people, who pay their taxes and therefore their salaries. That it excludes us from public debate. We are here and there are many of us.
The HuffPost: Another news today is the monkey pox epidemic. Within a few weeks, the circulation of the virus continued to increase to reach more than 1,800 cases in France. Men who have sex with men represent 96% of these cases. Aides, Sidaction and Acte-Up lament the lack of support in the epidemic by public authorities. Is that feeling you share?
Paloma: That’s right. With the arrival of Covid, there was general panic. The left. When I went to vaccinate, the doctors made it clear to me that they did not have enough doses for everyone, but more than that, no one heard what happened. No one outside the LGBT+ community knows this.
The government has put a bell on a disease. The message he is sending us is to manage within. However, it is a disease that can have serious consequences if it is not well cared for. [elle peut s’avérer douloureuse et créer des complications, notamment chez les enfants, les femmes enceintes, et les personnes vivant avec le VIH, ndlr].
I find this to be indicative of so-called pinkwashing. We want to bring people who are not good in the media and in the political debate. But, when it comes to the real interest of our problems, there is nothing left. It means to us that we, as gays, lesbians, bis or trans, are still not included in this society. there are people “normal” and we have. We need to stop thinking of ourselves as a minority.
The HuffPost: Along with stigma, crimes and offenses targeting LGBT+ people increased by 12% compared to 2019, according to SOS Homophobia, in France. Do you feel safe?
Paloma : Following the vote of the law for the PMA for all, in 2021, the Manif pour tous organized a mobilization to challenge. I, who showed up very little, went to the counter-demonstration organized by the bad people. We are 70 to break everything. Among us, many harmless youths with flags. Result: we were gassed and immobilized on police land. Some were even arrested.
My vision may be interrupted because I live in Paris. Here, many people are not afraid to walk down the street with blue hair or manicured nails. We live in a cosmopolitan city. People don’t care. Where I’m from, Clermont-Ferrand, there was no other place at that time. In my high school, I was the only one who said I was gay. When I go around to my high school classmates at that time, I’m not surprised that a package comes out.
But, since Drag Race in France came out, I received many messages every day from children thanking me for starting to talk about their homosexuality around them. However, while there is still the fear of revealing oneself, coming out of the closet, so everything is out of order.
The HuffPost: So yes, screen representation isn’t everything, but does it matter to you?
Paloma: I have a feeling that the other candidates of Drag Race in France, we were the first people who were not good enough to occupy this place on television. Indeed, we have had openly homosexual TV hosts for a long time, such as Laurent Ruquier or Olivier Minne, but they do not always position themselves on these questions, if possible. On the contrary, those we see on the screen sometimes hit us, like Matthieu Delormeau [le chroniqueur de TPMP a notamment été critiqué en 2021 pour avoir tenu des propos homophobes à l’encontre de Bilal Hassani, ndlr].
We need another representation, positive images, a diverse discourse with different personalities, and not just clichés. And that’s it drag race brought. Each of us brings back in our own way a vision of the spectrum, which is clearly not fully represented. For example, La brioche is a trans woman. He is pansexual, in a relationship with a woman. This brings up many questions about gender and sexuality. Muse’s Soa defines herself as non-binary, she doesn’t want to be defined by one gender or another. He is also not gendered. Here, we bring different discourses.
The HuffPost: Is there interest in seeing this public service program?
Paloma: Yes, what about France 2. We are still talking about a channel whose group broadcasts Louis the Brocante. This is a big step forward. It will reach a wide audience, not just LGBT+ viewers I got a message from a woman. He wrote me to tell me that he had never been interested in what drag was until then. He told me that he found us all impressive, for our talents and the resources we had. He’s not the only one. I received several testimonials telling me that they watched the movie as a couple or as a family with their children. The prevalence of drag racea real blow to the antique.
The HuffPost: The hearings of drag race France good and the return, too. Doesn’t this show that audiences are ready for other forms of entertainment?
Paloma: We’re not on a reality show where people are throwing glasses of water in the face. It is not The angels of reality TV. It does not correspond to the classic codes of French entertainment. There are real moments of emotion, humor and light. And this raises real social issues [comme la séropositivité de Lolita Banana, l’agression homophobe de La Grande Dame, la réception du coming out chez les proches, ndlr].
Me, I come from the world of theater and cinema and I observed something there. If a program is successful, we will continue to do it without question. Really lame movies have been made for years. People are watching. So the producers think that’s what people want to see and don’t want to watch anything else. And I disagree with that. You write a slightly better screenplay, people will still watch. When we improve things, people are happy because we stop hiring these idiots.
See also at The HuffPost : Appearing as a drag queen on TV, this American pastor agreed