The premiere episode of the reality show “Drag Race Sweden”, where nine transvestites compete to become the “next Swedish drag star”, was broadcast on Sunday on tax-funded SVT.
Created in 2009, RuPaul’s Drag Race is an American reality show that seeks to find America’s next drag queen star. The program is popular worldwide and sequels have been produced in a number of other countries.
In early March, the Swedish version of the drag show series premiered with actor Robert Fux as host. State-owned SVT broadcasts the Swedish drag queen series and says that the reason it chose to invest in this program series is because it believes that “the format has strong public service values” and that it also combines “community, entertainment and personal stories in one” while being “really, really good television”.
In general, drag culture has generated a lot of debate recently, largely because some formats have chosen to involve children in the adult, sexualized form of entertainment. One example is the children’s series “Generation Drag”, where children compete to find their “true identity” by living out their interests as “drag queens” on TV.
However, the Swedish state broadcaster says that it is showing “Drag Race Sweden” in the context of the big debate on drag culture by “pure coincidence” and hopes that people will watch the program and make up their own minds.
A total of 913 000 Swedes watched the first episode of the drag show series. In the first episode of the series, nine contestants are challenged to do a midsummer-themed photo shoot. The set-up is similar to the original series where, for example, the two worst contestants are allowed to “mime for their lives” with the aim of the worst contestant being eliminated from the competition. Two permanent judges, artist Kayo and stand-up comedian Farao Groth, help Robert Fox decide who should be eliminated. Each week there are also guest judges. For example, the second episode of the series featured transsexual child idol Tone Sekelius, who has also podcasted about oral sex and so-called “anal rinses”.
The program is being broadcast on SVT on Sundays at 21:00.
Facts: Transvestism and drag queens
A drag queen is often a male person who dresses, often more exaggeratedly, in female attributes. They usually perform as artists or party people. Performances where an ensemble of drag queens perform are called drag shows.
A transvestite is a person who often uses a different gender expression in terms of clothing, voice, body language and other attributes. Both male and female transvestites exist, although male-to-female transvestites are more common than vice versa.
Transvestism and drag queens should not be confused with transgender individuals.