Dressed to stand out

Manila Luzon.
Manila Luzon.PHOTO: BRETT SAARI

Gone are the days when dressing in drag means men putting on women's clothing, says American drag queen Manila Luzon, a household name for fans of the American reality television drag competition, RuPaul's Drag Race.

"Now, we see bearded or androgynous drag queens and even biological females in drag. Any kind of look that's not the norm can be drag," says the vivacious 34-year- old in a recent telephone interview with The Straits Times from Melbourne, where she was performing.

The saucy drag queen, born Karl Westerberg, will be here on Sunday to perform in RuPaul's Drag Race Battle Of The Seasons: 2016 Extravaganza Tour, a travelling drag revue that is in its third edition and based on the hit TV series.

He was the third season runner-up and will be joined by eight other finalists and fan favourites from different seasons, including drag queen Detox from Season 5 and Season 7's winner Violet Chachki.

The audience can expect show- stopping outfits and outlandish performances in the 11/2-hour spectacle, a condensed version of the TV show featuring its best segments, including the Snatch Game where contestants impersonate celebrities in a game show setting.

  • BOOK IT / RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE BATTLE OF THE SEASONS: 2016 EXTRAVAGANZA TOUR (R18)

  • WHERE: Kallang Theatre, 1 Stadium Walk

    WHEN: Sunday, 7pm

    ADMISSION: $88 to $188 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

    INFO: www.la-comedylive.com/RuPaulBOTSsg

Admission to the drag revue, held at Kallang Theatre, is restricted to those aged 18 and above. At least 70 per cent of the tickets have been sold.

Singapore, the final stop on this tour, is the first Asian country that the tour is visiting.

For Manila Luzon, who is part Filipino - hence the stage name - this is his second visit to Singapore. He was here last year to perform in another show.

He has been dressing in drag for close to 15 years and is known for his signature black-and-blonde locks and tongue-in-cheek humour.

His big break came when he made it to RuPaul's Drag Race. Since appearing on the TV show in 2011, he has gone into the drag show business full-time, performing in the United States and elsewhere.

He has also released at least 10 songs and music videos online.

RuPaul's Drag Race has done more than alter his life, he says.

"Before the show, drag queens were at the bottom of the totem pole in the gay community," he says. "Now, we are being increasingly accepted."

He adds: "I have even seen mothers bringing their teenage sons dressed in drag to our shows. There is more support now."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2016, with the headline 'Dressed to stand out'. Print Edition | Subscribe