The beauty of Drag Race‘s global expansion is having the opportunity to meet a new set of queens who can offer viewers a different perspective on the art form—one that challenges the status quo while giving exposure to the many ways culture is reflected in the identity of a performer. For Drag Race Belgique winner Drag Couenne, this means tying in their years of experience as a trained actor in Belgium with their political activism as part of the collective ‘Not Allowed,’ which fights to give a voice to trans performers in the country.
Inspired by the minds of Leigh Bowery, Laurie Anderson, and Klaus Nomi, to name a few, the self-described “androgynous being” represents a work of art itself as they seek to subvert the expectations of their audience, similar to their muses. With the title of Belgium’s First Drag Superstar under their belt, Drag Couenne hopes to use their reign to extend the reach of Belgian drag around the world while making sure the art form continues to diversify on home soil.
Pop Crave caught up with Drag Couenne to discuss what life has been like since their crowning, being a working performer in and out of drag, and why drag visibility is important “more than ever.” Keep reading for the full interview!
Congratulations on your well-deserved win! What has life been like since your crowning?
My life has been hectic since the finale. I’m working so much, between drag shows and theater at night and interviews and media appearances during the day. I don’t get that much sleep, but I’m loving it.
As Belgium’s First Drag Superstar, how do you hope to continue putting Belgian drag on the world stage?
Belgian drag will keep creating our own space here in Belgium and, at the same time, making sure our Belgian queens travel abroad to display our talent all over the world.
What would you say makes Belgian drag unique from other drag communities around the world?
Due to its geographical situation, Belgium is a country with a lot of compromises: three official languages, different cultures, etc. We are in between bigger countries with strong identities. That’s why Belgian drag has no borders and no limits. We’re the champions of self-mockery; we don’t take ourselves too seriously. That’s why we have a lot of drag queens and monsters.
What are your top three goals that you hope to achieve during your reign?
I want Belgian drag to keep diversifying. I want drag artists to be better paid for their art. I want Belgian drag to be more represented abroad.
You had so many mesmerizing runway looks this season. Your bowler hat look for the ‘Surrealism’ runway still sticks with me. How did you and designer Aidan Abnet come up with the idea for it?
The idea was to work on texture, shapes, and optical illusions. Surrealism art can be so simple and refined yet bizarre, so I focused on one element: Magritte’s hat, using optical illusion aesthetics. I liked the idea of being a giant walking hat composed of 50 smaller hats. The reveal makeup was inspired by that half-light, semi-darkness of Magritte’s momentum. You don’t know if it’s daytime or nighttime. So the makeup immerses you in that in-between momentum.
Your ability to tell a story on the runway is truly one of the best I’ve seen in the Drag Race franchise. As a trained actor, what is your method for creating these characters on stage?
Every time I create a look, I first create the character. Once the character is clear in my mind, the look comes naturally. The secret is always to tell a story first.
The reference to Sasha Velour in your final lip-sync was such a fun ode to Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. What did that moment represent to you?
Season 9 was the first season I truly watched. During her finale lip sync, when she did her reveal, everybody knew Sasha Velour was the clear winner. I wanted to create that kind of momentum if I got to the finale of Drag Race Belgique. Also, what I like about Sasha Velour is the fact that in her performance she’s looking for art, not specifically beauty. That itself, this meticulousness, creates Sasha’s beauty and aesthetic to me.
I find it interesting that you also perform out of drag as Adrien De Biasi. What is it like balancing a career as both Drag Couenne and Adrien?
Tiring. People are constantly trying to put me in specific boxes. Since I won Drag Race, people think I’m going to stop theater and movies to perform only as Drag Couenne. When I’m working a lot for theater, people ask me if I’m missing drag. People put a real border between Adrien De Biasi and Drag Couenne.
Drag is currently under attack in the United States and around the world. How important is it to you to represent a more political form of drag?
We’re fighting against ignorant people. I can’t imagine how somebody can be against an art form that represents love. Drag is all about getting people together. Drag is no threat to anybody. Drag is an invitation to come together. The attacks we’re facing right now are taking me out of my comfort zone. I’m scared. But that’s why, more than ever, we need to be visible. We need to be present on stage, in school, on television, in theaters, and in all media. Drag needs to go out on the streets.
Do you recall any fun moments from the Werk Room that fans didn’t get to see onscreen?
At the end of the first day of shooting Drag Race Belgique, Valenciaga and I were on our way to our rooms and she stops and tells me, “Couenne, I love you.” I watched her head towards her room and answered, “Me too; I love myself,” and I shut the door.
What is something fans might be surprised to know about you?
Final question! If you had to compete again with queens all over the world, who would you like to compete against?
Bimini because I love her. Sasha Velour, obviously. Sasha Colby, because she’s a winner. Paloma because she’s also an actress, and Juriji because she’s my friend.
Season one of Drag Race Belgique is now streaming on WOW Presents Plus.
Follow Drag Couenne on Instagram.