“Drag Race France”: the drag queens of Rennes shine from the broadcast of France 2 – Rennes

At the Liberté, on Thursday 3 November, the drag queens of the Drag Race France show will perform. Like these artists, who have gained thousands of followers, the visibility of Rennes’ drag queens has accelerated. “The audience has multiplied”, shares Anne-Marie Kondom, of the Dragopole collective of Rennes.

The Drag Race show, launched in the United States in 2009 by RuPaul, gained momentum with its arrival on Netflix. After the UK or Italy, France offered itself an edition in June 2022.

If Anne-Marie Kondom was expecting a French version, the resulting dynamic is surprising: “It aired at midnight, Saturday night, and even so it reports people who knew neither drag nor drag race”.

This practice has multiple aesthetics, but usually involves a male person playing a female character. The staging ranges from the theatrical show to the danced or sung show.

This stage art on the Rennes scene, initially confined to the LGBTQ + community, has since gained a new audience. Julien, a friend of Anne-Marie Kondom who works in the field of education, confides: “I have colleagues who tell me about Dragopole’s performances. I didn’t think they would know. “

Anne-Marie Kondom, drag queen of the Rennes Dragopole collective, is a dazzling and colorful character who puts humor at the center of her performances. (Misty Wolf)

The Click Drag Race

With a discreet smile on his face, this habitué of Anne-Marie Kondom’s performances is admired. “When I think of her, I think of Mylène Farmer, feminine, glam ‘”, he says enthusiastically. The drag queen thought for a long time about her character, for which it was necessary to find a name, an aesthetic, a personality-like in the theater. “Anne-Marie”, a pseudonym derived from a joke of hers about her real name, and “Kondom”, for all the puns this might suppose: her name is like her driver. Humor is what mostly speaks to him. Between comedy, sexuality, songs, he offers a character who laughs at stereotypes. “My character goes everywhere, she says nonsense, is very colorful, bright,” explains the queen. “She is falsely demure, rarely very serious or very intense.”

In her early days, however, the drag queen would never have imagined performing, or even evolving within a collective. “I come from a rural background, it was a bit complicated. I waited until the age of 25 to try: it was bad, very bad, “he recalls with a laugh.” It’s normal, you don’t learn how to do your makeup in two steps, but I’ll put it aside. “It’s from Drag Race, the original American version, which he clicked.

The group takes shape

Armed with an online makeup palette, too high heels and her wig, backed by several months of tutorials on YouTube, Anne-Marie Kondom was born. And she made her first outing. It is April 18, 2019, at the Part des Anges bar, for the 25th anniversary of SOS Homophobia. The drag queen meets her early Rennes counterparts: Vicky Veryno, Denise Ontweed, Eva Porée. With them comes the desire to do more evenings, to have “a queer scene worthy of the name in Rennes”, she confides. So far, in the Breton capital, there are only the Broadway French collectives, in Rennes 2, and DRAG. So they first organize social outings in bars where a warm welcome is guaranteed.

“We were going to talk to people, we explained the differences between drag, transgender people, which we should no longer say transsexual. They were drunk, maybe they didn’t remember anything the next day, but it was always good “, remembers Anne-Marie Kondom. Little by little the Rennes Dragopole collective takes shape. An early evening is organized at the Fée Verte bar, in December 2019, where they go up. on stage to deliver a true and thoughtful show. The format likes it, it will be monthly. The imprisonment puts an end to the whole queer scene.

A continuous renewal

A hit for these artists. On Instagram or Twitch, they perform live, perform, put on makeup, offer a myriad of content to LGBTQ + people, even more vulnerable in these few months. “After COVID, we mostly found a weird audience that needed it. On the street, however, welcoming is more difficult than before ”, grimaces Anne-Marie Kondom. The public, however, swells alone, more and more curious and passionate. It’s also for all ages, with children’s readings organized at the Iskis LGBTI center or revisited Cluedo drags for the little ones.

Pearl Boobcock, Anne-Marie Kodom and Giant Jasmine from the Dragopole collective to the green fairy
Pearl Boobcock, Anne-Marie Kodom and Giant Jasmine, from the Rennes Dragopole collective, are on stage at the Fée Verte, in Rennes, two evenings a month. (Anne Marie Kodom)

A variety of drag queens and drag kings then evolve in the bars of Rennes that have become essential places of the queer environment: the Fée Verte, l’Attrape-Rêve, l’Atelier du Vent, Usine, the Bistro de la Cité , the Cavale or the part of the angels. Several times a month they offer bingo, cabaret, music quizzes such as techno nights and busy snacks.

They are evenings in which the “readings” follow one another under the laughter and cries of the audience, where Mylène Farmer makes the artists move their hips, where fake blood splatters right in the middle of the performance. “Without limits!”, Assures Anne-Marie Kondom, if not to ensure that cleaning is easy. “We do burlesque, stripping, pole dance, it can be vulgar or sometimes very serious, around drugs, rape, things that are also very close to the community. ”Talk about everything, without laughing at everything, get to know your Rennes audience, as queer as they are busy, and above all organize a show.

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