“Last summer, Piyarat Kaljareuk, the Vice President of the super-prestigious Katana Group Public Co.Ltd production company announced on Instagram that the country will begin production of its own version of RuPaul’s Drag Race.”—JAMES ST. JAMES/Worldofwonder.net
With the huge success of RuPaul’s Drag Race it’s just a matter of time when others try to get a piece of the pie. It’s quite astonishing that it took more than nine years before anyone even tried. With the exception of “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK”, that produced Charlie Hide, who then competed in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9, it’s been a monopoly.
Perhaps with all the progress and inroads made by the LGBT in the last decade worldwide, coupled with the success of Drag Race alumni in the world arena, the accolades and awards received by RuPaul and RuPaul’s Drag Race in the past couple of years, and the prevalence and popularity of drag in social media, the conditions maybe right for others to follow suit. Drag is becoming mainstream, whether we like it or not.
Drag Race Thailand
At first glance “Drag Race Thailand” came across as a franchise of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but after a closer look it’s not. It’s Katana Group’s own version of RuPaul’s Drag Race. For one thing, “RuPaul” is not included in any of the branding – not in the title nor sets. In fact, it seems to position itself as a show that could possibly be turned into a franchise, like “Survivor”, “The Voice”, etc. by simply calling it “Drag Race” followed by country of the competition. Although the photos of the sets posted on Instagram by World of Wonder look very similar to RuPaul’s Drag Race, there’s no obvious indication of any collaboration between the two companies. I hope there is some sort of licensing agreement between World of Wonder and Katana Group. For one thing, the title “Drag Race” implies “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. Fans of the show hash tags “#DragRace”. It would not be right if another show took advantage of that branding.
Break A Lash
How will Drag Race Thailand fair? It remains to be seen. But Thailand is known for its very fishy ladyboys — gay men who look like cis women. We can expect fierce-looking contestants for sure. The show’s format and appeal is a different story. RuPaul’s Drag Race works because of one main ingredient, RuPaul. He’s the glue that binds everything together, the fuel that gets the Drag Race engine going. A RuPaul-less Drag Race? Drag conventions in the UK, who featured former cast members of Drag Race, has been very successful. Perhaps if they include guest judges who were winners or popular cast members of RuPaul’s Drag Race? I don’t know anything about Thailand’s drag scene, but Katana Group’s VP, Piyarat Kaljareuk, looks very charismatic. He could be their “RuPaul”. I suppose you don’t have to be a drag supermodel to be the head honcho of a drag competition as long as you’re very charismatic, stylish, successful, and popular? We’ll see.
If you’ve been paying attention to social media in the past few years, there’s an influx of new generation of drag queens from all over the world. Thanks to Drag Race, YouTube makeup tutorials, and Instagram. Some of these newcomers are insanely good in such a short period of time. A RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise that could be exported to other countries, like in the UK, Australia, Mexico and Canada, and could potentially become huge hits. The outcome of “Drag Race Thailand” will be the second Litmus test to this, the first being “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK”.
So stay tuned!
[ Update ]
Katana Group Public Co. Ltd. bought the rights to produce its own version of RuPaul’s Drag Race in October 2017, as per Instagram update, see below. RuPaul or World of Wonder involvement (if any) in the “Drag Race Thailand” production has not been made public.
[ Update ]