Paloma, figurehead in the first season of “Drag Race France”.
TV – There were ten of them to go on an adventure. This Thursday, August 4, they will be just three. The three major finalists in the first edition of Drag Race FranceFrench adaptation of the American competition RuPaul’s Drag Race broadcast since June 25, every Thursday evening on the digital platform France.tv Slash and on France 2 every Saturday, after Fort Boyard.
The competition, where drag queens compete in events that combine singing, theatre, dancing and modeling, has nothing to envy its big American sister. From week to week she proved to be equally entertaining, funny, moving and keen to defend the interests and diversity of French drag. And this without ignoring the strong messages about self-acceptance.
Among the strong personalities of this season, one of them has been able to withdraw from the game. It’s Paloma. An excellent impersonator of Fanny Ardant (and of Ludovine de La Rochère in secret), the queen of comedy has also proven to be a fierce competitor on the catwalk, as evidenced by her interpretation of a sketch by the famous fashion illustrator Erté for the Haute Couture fashion show.
Paloma doesn’t have her tongue in her pocket. Especially when it comes to remembering that the art of drag isn’t all about rhinestones and glitter, or championing the issues that cross the LGBT+ community HuffPost interviewed her.
HuffPost : In some of the interviews you’ve given since the launch of Drag Race France, you talk about the art of drawing as a political act. What do you mean by that?
Paloma: From the moment I risk getting kicked by walking in stilettos, a wig and make-up on the street, it is a political act. Drag is, above all, an art that deconstructs society, a society built on heterosexual norms. Our art is to deconstruct gender. I myself have felt the pressure to be a manly boy when I am not. I still exist in society. It’s important to open doors for the next generation, queer or not.
As long as there is homophobia and people insulting us on the street or on social networks, drag queens and drag kings will be needed to change things.
The HuffPost: The presence in the government of Caroline Cayeux, who has previously made remarks against marriage for all, has sparked an outcry. What do you think ?
Paloma: It just shows that the current government, which claims to be progressive, is actually carrying out François Fillon’s conservative policies, but in disguise. Manif pour tous, although it has a right to exist in public space, opposes laws that have been debated and voted on, such as marriage for all and PMA for all. What they want is to question things that have previously been approved by the government. I find it very contradictory on the part of Emmanuel Macron to see her today by his side.
Moreover, when Caroline Cayeux talks about ” These people “I will remind him of that ” These people “, they are also government voters, they are voters, people who matter, who pay their taxes and therefore their wages. That it does not exclude us from the public debate. We are here, and there are many of us.
The HuffPost: The other current news is the monkeypox epidemic. In a few weeks, the circulation of the virus has continued to develop 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 regret the lack of support for the epidemic from the public authorities. Is this a sentiment you share?
Paloma: Exactly. When Covid arrived, there was general panic. Nothing. When I went to get vaccinated, the doctors made it clear to me that they wouldn’t have enough doses for everyone, but other than that, no one had heard about what happened. No one outside the LGBT+ community knows about it.
The government rings a bell on a disease. The message he sends us is to rule internally. However, it is a disease that can have serious consequences if it is not taken care of properly. [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 think this is a sign of what is called pinkwashing. We like to bring queer people into the media and into the political debate. But when it comes to really caring about our problems, there is no one left. It lets us understand that we, as gay, lesbian, bi or trans, are still excluded from this society. there are people “normal” and there is us. We must stop thinking of ourselves as a minority.
The HuffPost: Along with stigmatization, crimes and offenses against LGBT+ people have increased by 12% compared to 2019, according to SOS Homophobia in France. Do you feel safe?
Paloma : After the vote on the law for PMA for all, in 2021 Manif pour tous organized a mobilization to challenge. I, who demonstrate very little, went to the counter-demonstration organized by queer people. We were 70 to break everything. Among us many harmless young people with inclusive flags. Result: we were gassed and immobilized on the ground by the police. Some were even detained.
My view may be truncated because I live in Paris. Here, many queers 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 come from, Clermont-Ferrand, there was no queer place at the time. In my high school, I was the only one who said I was gay. If I go around the people I was with in high school at the time, I wouldn’t be surprised that a package has come out.
But since Drag Race France come out, I receive dozens of messages every day from kids thanking me for starting to talk about their homosexuality around them. Yet, as long as there is still fear of revealing oneself, of coming out of the closet, all is not settled.
The HuffPost: So yes, screen representation isn’t everything, but is it important to you?
Paloma: I have the feeling that with the other candidates of Drag Race France, we are the first queer people to occupy this niche on television. To be sure, we’ve had openly gay TV hosts for a long time, like Laurent Ruquier or Olivier Minne, but they haven’t asked themselves these questions often, if ever. Conversely, those we can see on the screen sometimes strike 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 a different representation, positive images, a diversified discourse with different personalities and not just clichés. And that’s what drag race brought. We each bring back, in our own way, a vision of the spectrum that is obviously not fully represented. For example, La brioche is a trans woman. She is pansexual, in a relationship with a woman. It raises a whole heap of questions about gender and sexuality. Muse’s Soa defines herself as non-binary, she doesn’t want to be defined by one gender or the other. She is also not gender specific. Here we bring different discourses.
The HuffPost: Is there interest in watching this program on public service?
Paloma: Yes, what else is on France 2. We are still talking about a channel whose group broadcasts Louis the Brocante. It is a big step forward. It reaches a wide audience, not just LGBT+ viewers, I got a message from a woman. She wrote to me to tell me that she had never been interested in what drag was until then. She tells me that she finds us all impressive, both for our talents and the resources we possess. She’s not the only one. I receive a number of testimonials telling me that they watch the program as a couple or as a family with their children. The spread of drag raceit’s a real hit in the anthill.
The HuffPost: The hearings of drag race France are good, and the returns too. Doesn’t it show that viewers are ready for other forms of entertainment?
Paloma: We are not in a reality show where people swing glasses of water in their faces. 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 lightness. And it raises real social problems [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 worlds of theater and cinema, and I observed something there. When a program is successful, we continue to produce it, no questions asked. Really lame shows have been produced for years. People are watching. So the producers think that’s what people want to see and don’t want to see anything else. And I don’t agree with that. You write a slightly better script, people still want to see. When we improve things, people are happy because we stop taking them for idiots.
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