Drag Race is changing and it is finally allowing women to compete.
Trans women Gia Gunn, Sonique and Stacey Layne Matthews have all appeared in the past few months on the US version.
But, in Thailand, cisgender women are now allowed to audition.
Enter Felicia Heals. The heteroflexible ‘dominatrix diva with the double Ds to prove it’ was born in Russia. She moved to Thailand when she was eight years old.
And even though she’s only been doing drag for less than 12 months, she auditioned for Drag Race Thailand.
Drag Race Thailand is also made by Thai TV group Kantana and airs on the streaming channel Line TV.
Felicia will appear in the audition episode airing today (11 January).
Cisgender woman reveals how she found drag
The performance artist said she decided to go to a gay party in Bangkok on 2 January 2017. The party was hosted by Drag Race Thailand co-host Pangina Heals.
‘ I remember like it was yesterday, the feeling I had from being around the girls that day,’ Felicia tells Gay Star News.
‘It honestly felt like I instantly fell in love with the art of drag.’
With a strong interest in performance art and fashion, Felicia started making costumes for the drag queens.
But she wanted to get involved in the performance art herself.
While researching drag kings, Felicia tried to figure out a male persona for herself.
‘It just didn’t feel right, I didn’t feel like myself,’ she said. But then, around the first episode of Drag Race Thailand, Pangina talked about cisgender women who perform as drag queens.
Some call them bio queens, hyper queens, female queens, or faux queens. Felicia prefers to use ‘bio queen’. The one thing that unites all those words are they are women participating in the art of drag.
Felicia Heals was born
‘I decided to talk to [Pangina] about it for guidance,’ Felicia said. ‘Next thing I know, Felicia Heals was born.’
The Heals in her name represents that Pangina is Felicia’s drag mother.
‘We have always had a very good understanding and connection,’ Felicia said. ‘It was a very natural thing.
‘Pangina is a drag mother who lets you develop yourself. She asked me first to see if I was ready to perform before I did perform for the first time.
‘When I have questions she is always happy to advice and suggest or give a hint of what I might want to try, but in the end the decision is up to me.
‘I was interested in sending a tape [for Drag Race] but being a baby drag I wasn’t sure if I should submit my tape this year. The words of wisdom from the Queen herself were “you would never know until you try, and if you don’t you might keep beating yourself up for not trying later”.’
But even after the discussion with Pangina, Felicia waited a month before submitting her tape.
She said she wanted to work on her makeup and her lip-syncing, and she was worried she wouldn’t be good enough.
It was the last day of submissions when she sent the ‘life-changing email’.
First bio queen to be featured as a competitor in the Drag Race franchise
A call came and Felicia was invited to appear in the audition episode.
Felicia Heals is officially the first bio queen to be featured as a competitor in the Drag Race franchise.
— Pangina Heals (@PanginaHeals) January 8, 2019
‘It was a green light that I was waiting for that I am on the right track in exploring myself,’ Felicia said.
‘I understand the risks of judgments that come with the fact that I am a bio queen who is joining.
‘It is a big controversy for many but I hope my feature will open doors to bio queens and drag kings around the world to be more accepted and loved.’
Felicia said she hopes her appearance will encourage people to see drag as art, not just a show for cross-dressing men.
‘Coming from a background of art I never looked at drag shows as men wearing women’s clothing and performing,’ Felicia said.
‘Each performance is also not just entertainment, it is a theater performance of each and single one.
‘So much is put into creating one show, looks, steps, costumes, actions you would take, how you connect with the crowd. How can this not be considered art?’