MANILA, PHILIPPINES — LGBTQIA+ history and culture are not complete without drag. As an art form, it’s one that embodies subversion, plays with gender, and most importantly, is rooted in the politics and community building that can’t — and should not be erased — from LGBTQIA+ history and culture.
In the past decade, drag has become more mainstream, in huge part because of Rupaul’s Drag Race, a phenomenon that has transcended communities. And while that has been an amazing thing, it comes with the stronger need to keep in mind that drag culture and history are so much richer and more diverse than what one can find through mainstream Western programs.
In anticipation of the two exciting drag TV shows coming to the Philippines — Drag Race Philippines and Drag Den — it’s important to remember that drag has been a part of Filipino LGBTQ+ culture long before those programs were announced. So, as part of Pride Month, adobo Magazine is putting a spotlight on three exemplary local queens that show how much drag excellence there is to discover — and support — in this country.
Starting off with a drag queen who knows a thing or two about stealing a show, adobo Magazine kicks off this three-part series with a chat with Yudipota Marupokpok.
Yudipota is a queen who has become a staple in the Bacolod City drag scene. In her latest solo performance — one that was part of the Drag Pride Show held by the stunning Bacolod Drag Queens — she captivated the audience once more with a mesmerizing number set to Lana Del Rey’s Young and Beautiful that mixes fashion, dazzling fantastical imagery, cathartic healing energy. It definitely epitomized the words she used to describe her drag.
Drag as a coping mechanism for healing and expression. 🦇 pic.twitter.com/EmF7ccpzC5
— Anthony x Yudipota (@iyudipota) June 23, 2022
“I would describe my drag as a glamorous, sexy aswang,” she said. “I have created the fantasy that is Yudipota way back in 2018 and her essence and vibe are still the same up to this day. She loves to do visual-based performances that will shock the audience, something not too dance-y since she isn’t the best dancer. She loves to deliver memorable performances, that’s for sure.”
The highlight of my performance last night! It was a destined and timely performance.
— Anthony x Yudipota (@iyudipota) April 24, 2022
Elaborating further on Yudipota’s origins, she said that she initially had no interest to do drag until her friends forced her to watch Drag Race and pushed her to try it because she had the skills to use makeup, create outfits, and she had experience working in theater. “Then came 2018, I had a crazy idea to do drag to shock and surprise my friends,” she recounted. “Basically, [Yudipota] was like a gift to my friends and she continues to be. That kind of stirred the whole college, [my] high school batchmates, and mostly my family – which made her begin her reign.”
Yudipota shared that she draws inspiration for her drag from her favorite designers — Guo Pei, Thierry Mugler, Margiela, and Alexander McQueen to name a few — and nature and mythological creatures. But she also emphasized that her drag draws from anything she admires. “I look to and absorb a lot of inspiration from anything and everyone I admire. But the person I admire the most is myself, and that is where I take the biggest inspiration from.”
It’s evident that the unique way she mixes those influences with her own vibe makes Yudipota a stunning and stand-out part of the already vibrant Filipino drag scene — a drag scene that she describes as “competitive and critical.”
“You know Filipinos are perfectionist individuals and are very eye-on-the-detail to send out their opinions,” she elaborated. “However, my favorite thing about the drag artists, drag queens, and drag kings here are their willingness to improve and the drive to produce better drag with a low budget.”
The eyes on Filipino drag are set to multiply with the upcoming Filipino drag TV shows Drag Race Philippines and Drag Den. In fact, Yudipota was one of the candidates for the latter’s wildcard spot for casting. While she didn’t clinch the spot, she said she’s still thrilled for both of the shows.
“[I’m] absolutely excited!” she shared. “It was a terrible experience for me being almost part of one of the shows mentioned, but that’s how it is. I’m at peace with that.”
“I’m excited to see the format, and I am hoping the queens will bring and shed a good light to not only the drag scene but also to the LGBTQIA+ community because that will reflect immensely on us as a whole,” she continued. “In contrast, I am most excited about the fights and the drama. The irony! But it is a reality show after all and I am a viewer. However, many people are not knowledgeable about how controlled and scripted a reality show is.”
When asked if she thinks there’s a danger that local queens not on the shows will get overshadowed by the programs, Yudipota agreed that that will definitely happen because Drag Race is seen as “the highest you can attain as a drag artist.” However, she believes that whatever success the casted queens get is something to celebrate. “Those queens sacrificed a lot just to be part of the show. I think they deserve the success and opportunities.”
Another apprehension she mentioned about drag becoming more mainstream through the show is how it will be received. “I’m absolutely scared as of the moment since the shows have not aired yet. I am scared that maybe the conservatives, traditionals, homophobes, and the religious might take it as against their beliefs and views and they would not respect it.”
She added, though, that she’s mainly positive about drag’s growing popularity and the opportunities it will bring. “I am mostly happy because [it will] for sure [lead to] more gigs for everyone!”
With more and more people consuming drag content, including people in LGBTQIA+ community who don’t do drag and even cishet people, there’s still a big part of new drag enthusiasts who don’t know the do’s and don’ts when it comes to celebrating drag. But to Yudipota, the basic thing to remember is to be respectful of and support queens.
“Most importantly, tip your queens,” she emphasized. “Consider that we are living in a third-world country. They barely pay the queens in bars and gigs, so how do you expect them to deliver their best if they’re limited in the financial and opportunity aspect?”
“As trashy or as glamorous and polished as they are,” she continued, “They tried their best to deliver and put out something to give the audience joy and entertainment, that I am sure of.”