Under The Wig with CHIYO: 'RuPaul's Drag Race actively promotes discrimination'

1 June 2021, 16:18 | Updated: 28 June 2021, 12:30

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Actively Promotes Discrimination’ | Under The Wig with CHIYO

Woodrow Whyte

By Woodrow Whyte

"How do you expect producers, promoters, the audience of the show, to know they want us when you don't platform us? How do you expect them to care about us?"

For Pride month, PopBuzz is going 'Under The Wig' with drag queen Yshee Black to chat with four very different - but equally iconic - drag artists to explore the UK drag scene.

In our first episode, Yshee meets drag king and prince of provocation, CHIYO, to discuss the power and beauty of kings, why the king community are upset with Little Mix’s latest music video, why everyone should try drag, and so much more.

In the excerpt below, Yshee Black and CHIYO discuss the standing of drag kings in the wider drag community and what is needed before kings have the same representation and opportunities that drag queens are currently enjoying since the meteoric rise of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Head over to YouTube channel and switch on notifications to get the next episode of Under The Wig next week.

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CHIYO and Yshee Black Under The Wig asset
CHIYO and Yshee Black Under The Wig asset. Picture: PopBuzz

YSHEE BLACK: I'm so proud of the King community in London and here in Birmingham. We've got a little one, but we're mighty. In different cities, the king representation really needs to be there. It's sad that it's rare to have multiple kings on lineups. Why do you think that is?

CHIYO: Y'know, I feel like that's because most of the people in charge are cis men, and they just don't understand our talent. They just don't get it. I can sit here and say, 'Oh, we need more visibility', which we do. 'We need more representation', which we do. But ultimately, we are working. We are hustling. We're doing the damn thing. Look at this shirt...I made this! I made this! Do you know what I mean? Look at my face, look at my makeup, I'm gorgeous. We are doing the damn thing. And it's the men in charge that are sleeping on us.

So, I find myself on a lot of drag queen dominated lineups because I'm very palatable and they need a token. So, I feel like when people in general - cis people, white people, men - when people start expanding their minds beyond tokenization and realising they need to put active work into platforming the marginalised so we can all truly achieve equality, when they start to realise that then, hopefully, we'll start seeing more drag kings online, more black people on line-ups, more cis women who are drag queens on line-ups, more trans people on line-ups. Because, honestly, the mayo show.

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YSHEE: Not the mayo! It's true. I feel like the people who are booking - the people who are in power - it's one of those things where I don't think they know anyone else outside their friendship circle, or people who don't also look like them. And that is very damaging. And it's just crazy that people think, 'Oh, he's my friend, I'll give him producer role, he knows everyone'. [But he] barely knows anyone. Knows the same seven people. And they're not going to want to grow because they're like, it brings in money. It doesn't help. It takes the community to really fight back against that and you're a great representation of that, to be fair.

It leads me on to my next question, what do you think the queer community should be doing so we have more kings and queens on the same level of representation and opportunities?

CHIYO: Honestly, I think that the only way that we, as a community, as queers, as drag artists, as people who generally use this world in this bubble to escape the horrors of cis heteronormativity...the only way we can truly progress is if more people with power actively start rebelling against platforms like RuPaul's Drag Race, who actively promote these discriminations.

How many seasons? How many continents? How many performers? Never ever, ever, ever, ever a drag king? How do you expect producers, promoters, the audience of the show, to know they want us when you don't platform us? How do you expect them to care about us? How do you expect them to know how precious and worthy we are when you cannot even give us a token, a scrap of that platform.

I mean, it's great content, and I do love to see it, but I also love equality.

Follow CHIYO on Instagram here and Yshee Black here.