Eurovision Drag Queens

The art of drag has come a long way. It now enjoys an almost mainstream appeal, thanks to the ever-growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community in society and shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Performers all around the globe feel more empowered to show their talents while serving flamboyant personas and unique looks in the process. Examples of support can be seen constantly, such as the overwhelming social media buzz for Drag Race UK’s Frock Destroyers possible bid for Eurovision late last year.

As we celebrate a different kind of pride season and tune into All Stars 5 every weekend, we’ve decided to highlight some memorable drag performers from Eurovision history, both on the main stage as well as the hopefuls who gave a strong attempt back home in their national finals.

We know all about the iconic acts like the victorious Conchita Wurst and the inimitable Verka Serduchka, but there have been many more through the years.

Here are ten times drag acts werked it and were fabulous every high-heeled step on the way!

Drag Queens at Eurovision and national finals

After Dark (Sweden’s Melodifestivalen)

A third-place finish at Melfest 2004 cemented After Dark’s status in schlager folklore. But the drag project — led by Christer Lindarw and Lasse Flinckman — enjoyed success over many years. The act continued without Flinckman, returning to the contest in 2007 and 2016. The 2007 effort referenced four of Sweden’s biggest TV names, calling them “self-lovers” — although all four apparently gave their consent. Lindarw retired the After Dark project in 2017.

Babsan (Sweden’s Melodifestivalen)

Babsan was the drag persona of Lars-Åke Wilhelmsson. She was yet another testament of Sweden’s love for fabulous personalities. Appearing on countless shows in the 1990s and joining After Dark soon after. She was a pink-haired, bold, glammed-up middle-aged fun-seek woman. A Melodifestivalen appearance was inevitable and in 2011 she gave us the cheeky “Ge mig en Spanjor” (Give Me A Spaniard) in 2011. Ole!

Queentastic (Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix)

Backed by Thomas G:Son, the fab Norwegian act Queentastic almost punched themselves a ticket to Athens in 2006. The duo had previous experience stemming from their time in Norway’s iconic drag group the Great Garlic Girls. They tried their luck in Melodi Grand Prix after grouping up in 2005, achieving a third-place finish. They have been pride parade staples ever since.

Lolita Zero (Lithuania’s Eurovizijos atranka)

Gytis Ivanauskas became Lolita Zero with two goals in mind. One was to promote the movie Zero 3. The second was to represent Lithuania at Eurovision 2017. This bid somehow involved watermelons. She reached the final thanks to the public vote and a wildcard rescue. “Get Frighten” became a highlight of this edition of the marathon Eurovizijos atranka. Fun fact: Lolita Zero mostly lip-synced, instead vocals were provided on-stage by Jurij Veklenko, who went on to sing at Eurovision 2019.

Club La Persé (Finland’s UMK)

UMK 2017 was notable for being quite a bonkers affair. And Club La Persé came to serve some club kid realness. With thumping beats, bizarre staging and the most unique looks of the night, the quartet brought their little world to Finland and the Eurovision bubble!

Kamil Show (Armenia’s Depi Evratesil)

The persona of Arsen Grigoryan, Kamil Show quickly became one of Armenia’s favourite media characters. She even got to be buddy-buddy with celebrities like Lilit Hovhannisyan in the process. Not knowing Spanish didn’t stop Kamil from giving us the explosion of colour which was her Depi Evratesil 2018 entry “Puerto Rico”. She ended up coming second with the Armenian public in the televote.

Courtney Act (Australia’ Eurovision Australia Decides)

In one of the most mindblowing crossovers ever, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Courtney Act was one of the acts competing in Australia’s first-ever national final. The infectious “Fight For Love” ended in fourth place overall, featuring smoldering looks and fierce choreography from the high-profile drag artist.

DQ  (Denmark 2007)

While the sparkling Verka caused a stir in 2007, she wasn’t actually the first drag act to tackle Eurovision solo. That honour went to Denmark’s DQ, who featured in the semifinal some days prior. Surviving a second-chance round in that year’s DMGP, the Drama Queen took her pink plumage and bejeweled crown to Helsinki. While she didn’t qualify, she left her dramatic stamp on Eurovision history.

Sestre (Slovenia 2002)

Five years earlier, the very first drag act was selected for Eurovision. Amidst much controversy, Sestre secured a close win in the 2002 edition of EMA. Their selection sparked both pro and anti-gay protests in Slovenia, to the point of having a parliamentary debate about the topic. They ended up going to Tallin, and their Eurovision entry “Samo ljubezen” placeed 13th. The “sisters” are remembered as groundbreaking performers and they are still going strong to this day.

Ketil Stokkan (Norway 1986)

But who was the first to ever to don a wig, heels and makeup for their country? We have to look way back to Bergen 1986, when the host country’s Ketil Stokkan’s act featured backing dancers from the Great Garlic Girls, the same troupe as Queentastic. The performance included some extra acting inspired in Romeo and Juliet. As such, “Romeo”, which gave Norway a respectable 12th place, represented the first occasion on which someone from the LGBTQ community was visible on stage, inspiring many acts along the way.

What do you think? Is there any dragtastic act you’d love to see on the Eurovision stage? Let us know in the comments below.

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Kleo
Kleo
27 days ago

Honestly Sestre’s Samo Ljubezen is pretty much an unofficial Slovenian anthem. I can’t believe we were the first one to send drag queens to ESC, I’m really proud of my country for that!

Great Garlic Girls
Great Garlic Girls
2 months ago

Thank you so much for mentioning us and our participation in the ESC 1985. We are celebrating 40 years as an active group next year, and do still touring the world with our shows.

Best wishes
Great Garlic Girls

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago

Am loving how this post really has brought out the bigots with their homophobic comments.
They might hide it all behind the concept of drag – but everything is rooted in their own backward concepts of masculinity and drag is seen as completely counter to that.

I really thought we’d moved on from that.
I honestly thought we were evolved and more accepting of each other than that.

Seems not.
Seems the Eurovision fan community is just a hotbed of toxic and vile homophobia (not to mention misogyny and racism also).

Fatima
Fatima
3 months ago

All these acts are indeed fabulous and I think that Thomas Neuwirth would have won in 2014 whatever his stage persona. My worry is that those outside the Eurovision bubble may gain the impression that the contest is primarily a showcase for drag acts.

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Fatima

I don’t know why people keep saying this. There have been only a handful of these acts. It’s not as if they’ve been taking up 39 of the 42 songs. Why would people think anything of the sort?

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Fatima

and what if it was?
What if Eurovision became 43 songs all performed by men in dresses.
What’s the problem?

Jimmy Smit
Jimmy Smit
3 months ago

In relation to All Stars, what a great cast, the queens have been fabulous! Shame some of the challenges haven’t been as good as they could have been, especially that lucklustre hotel makeover challenge. Shea and Jujubee are very worthy of a double win – although I imagine production will enjoy giving Juju a third third place. Cracker has had a good run this season – but if Shea doesn’t win I’ll be very disappointed for her!

ElMisterio
ElMisterio
3 months ago

Sestre’s song is iconic to this day in Slovenia. There isn’t a party without it & everyone knows it by heart. Even the homophobes 😀

Last edited 3 months ago by ElMisterio
Hello
Hello
3 months ago

I don’t like drag acts in ESC. That means more stereotypes and predjuices about the fans and the music festival. And too much «circus» I think.

But Even If I dislike the acts – I like the songs by Sestre, Kamil, Lolita zero And Countrey. Because we should focus on music after all. The others are too musically cheesy for me.

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Hello

swap the word ‘drag acts’ for ‘black people’ and ask yourself if your discriminatory comments are okay??

Have you always been a bigot?

#DragLivesMatter

PP77
PP77
3 months ago

Army of lovers in MF

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago
Reply to  PP77

Army of Lovers do not do drag.

Kim
Kim
3 months ago

I dread making a comment here for fear of being drowned out by the intolerant but isn’t Eurovision about diversity also . Every year we hear people’s complaints about countries sending English versions of their song because it’s a cop out but are you all saying that if a man dresses like a woman or a woman a man they are seen as something to laugh at and poke fun at and makes a joke of Eurovision. Please give me a break. If Eurovision was serious and dreary do you think as many people watch it as they do .… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Kim
Dawid
Dawid
3 months ago

White people performing as Black people in some tv show is racist and disrespectful but males performing as females are fabulous and amazing.

Double standards at finest

Last edited 3 months ago by Dawid
Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Dawid

Okay. Let’s hear where you stand on these issues.

Ashton
Ashton
3 months ago
Reply to  Dawid

How in the hell is this upvoted

Jimbo
Jimbo
3 months ago

What about YOHIO who featured Melodifestivalen a few times. Is he considered as drag act? I have to confess “Heartbreak Hotel” would have been my choice than Robin Stjernberg “You” to represent Sweden in 2013.

James
James
3 months ago
Reply to  Jimbo

Otaku

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Jimbo

a man wearing make-up is NOT (nor has it ever been) drag.
Please do educate oneself before making such comments.

Nate
Nate
3 months ago

I really loved Kamil Show I’m sorry. Plus they would have received some Spanish points for sure

Last edited 3 months ago by Nate
Ashton
Ashton
3 months ago

Courtney Act, Conchita, and Verka are the only ones here with actually good songs.

Peter
Peter
3 months ago

I would like to keep ESC mainstream. I can understand that people like William adore drag but this will only increase the gay stigma of ESC. That is not the way to keep ESC alive.

CarlosM
CarlosM
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Drag is mainstream. If it wasn’t, there would be no drag queen competition shows on TV on almost every continent.

Peter
Peter
3 months ago
Reply to  CarlosM

Just because something is on TV does not make it mainstream.

CarlosM
CarlosM
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Why not just say you’re against drag queens?

Peter
Peter
3 months ago
Reply to  CarlosM

I am absolutely NOT against drag. Love Verka for example. But I feel that for ESC to stay relevant, it should be all-inclusive. Drag and gayness is part of ESC, but it must not consume it altogether. That would be the end of ESC.

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

What a ridiculous over-reaction. Four or five entries out of about 1,5000 is hardly consuming it altogether. There were 0 in 2019, and I include Bilal.

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Oh Peter – you really are a homophobe aren’t you?
A nasty little bigot.

please go educate yourself rather than looking like the massive fool .

Whisker
Whisker
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

William has great taste.

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

Agreed. People like William? What is that even supposed to mean?

There’s only one William.

Whisker
Whisker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Right! Right! Right! And right again!

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

there are literally thousands of Williams!

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

What a horrible comment, in more ways than one.

Peter
Peter
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Drama queen?

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Yes?

Whisker
Whisker
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

Oh wow this comment! This comment! I salute you!

Hello
Hello
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

you are totally right Peter. But some people Will not face the truth

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

The beautiful thing about Eurovision is that it’s a platform were everyone can submit a song. So saying that we should keep esc “mainstream” that’s stigmatising and imo that destroys the beautiful story and the reason why this contest was started.

Una
Una
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter

Why do you have to bring William in this? If it wasn’t for him, you would not be on this blog. And he is one of the people that keeps ESC alive.

Whisker
Whisker
3 months ago
Reply to  Una

Right! Right! And right again!

Peter
Peter
3 months ago
Reply to  Una

Because he loves drag. Because he posts quite some articles with drag here. And because he is quite influential in the ESC world. You must have noticed ….

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter

ESC is mainstream
Drag is mainstream.

Your comments come from a place of absolute homophobia and you really need to go check your prejudice on that one.

Worse still is if you are gay and you’re making these comments – because there’s nothing worse that a self-hating gay.

Ferdie
Ferdie
3 months ago

You totally missed Pink Pistols’ I Am Somebody. They participated in Melodifestivalen 2014. It was actually a great song

FJB
FJB
3 months ago

DQ was the worst song of 2007. Awful singer too. Seeing as it was Denmark I’m surprised it didn’t do better.

Paul
Paul
3 months ago

I still listen to DQ!!

Xoxoxo
Xoxoxo
3 months ago

Tragedy. Is any drag act popular in the world charts? No. They shine only at Eurovision, no one cares outside Eurovision world about them. I like only Verka, he is funny and makes great music. Neveretheless, I hope Eurovision will reflect more and more world music scene and will use less and less its stereotypes like drags, screaming divas, “Dream team’s” songs and Swedish schlager euro pop.

Tajikistan
Tajikistan
3 months ago

I’m still angry that we didn’t send Lolita Zero in 2017 and instead sent Fusedmarc. It was our first time to actually make an impact at the contest since LT United, and Gytis is iconic

Michael
Michael
3 months ago
Reply to  Tajikistan

Could she have done better than Fusedmarc, yeah probably. Could she have done better than Donny or Ieva, no way. The best she could hope for is squeaking into the final and finishing near the bottom like Serhat.

Erasmus
Erasmus
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael

yep..

MyName
MyName
3 months ago

I don’t like drag acts in ESC. Otherwise I don’t mind them. But they just add fuel to all kinds of silly stereotypes people have

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  MyName

If that’s the case, the fault is with the people who have stereotypes in mind. We don’t have to cater to them, or worry what they think. #CelebrateDiversity

Michael
Michael
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

But wouldn’t you feel awkward about it? Literally every single drag act, besides Conchita, has sang a silly, over-the-top, frequently annoying song that really only highlights the stereotypes of the LGBT community, performed by people that aren’t part of it (again, other than Conchita). Like all these people going on and on about Kamil, something tells me that part of the appeal is making fun of the drag queens, if Armenia sent Kamil Show, a lot of it would be because she was making fun of them.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonas

What MyName is getting at is that for a large part of the ESC audience, this might be their only exposure to drag acts that they’ll have during the year. It’s far better for that experience to be one of a Conchita or a Courtney if we want to make a positive impression. I don’t think it’s “celebrating diversity” to send a DQ or a Kamil Show and treat drag acts as merely a joke.

Emily
Emily
3 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

I don’t see DQ as a joke act. Her song is actually a decent pop song. Her outfit and show were ”old-school” drag, but i don’t see the joke.

Jonas
Jonas
3 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

That’s what they are. It’s not just men dressing as women. The whole point is over-the-top dramatic exaggerated humour. Mostly. That’s what it means. It’s certainly not about worrying over making “positive impressions” on idiots.

Roland Greeves
Roland Greeves
2 months ago
Reply to  MyName

ah MyName – another nasty little bigot>

This post is truly bringing out the prejudice in some people isn’t it.!

RavensHeart
RavensHeart
3 months ago

Never heard of Kamil Show before this article, what were Armenia thinking by not sending it??? Qami was so boring and rightfully crashed in the Semi Final, while Kamil Show would have at least had a chance at qualifying if the juries werent so anti eastern.

Alex
Alex
3 months ago

Kamil Show was robbed.

Erasmus
Erasmus
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Amm not at all, if anyone was robbed in DE in 2018 it was Tamar and also Asmik

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
3 months ago

I might be missing the point but rarely does a drag “act” get paired with a song that is actually good or has a performer who can sing at ESC-level.
Conchita aside, Courtney Act was probably the closest to being a good entry. Lolita Zero was one of the better options in a poor Lithuanian selection, too.

Erasmus
Erasmus
3 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

well the reason I don’t like “drag” acts is because 95% of the time are either a joke or really low quality. As a Slovene I can confirm that everyone loves the “Sestre” song, it’s quite iconic in Slovenia.

Mr Vanilla Bean
Mr Vanilla Bean
3 months ago
Reply to  Erasmus

Poor Karmen Stavec!

Conor K
Conor K
3 months ago

Love these kinds of ESC history lists! Can’t help but think Sestre would have benefited from entering a few years later. The song is actually really good and they would have been appreciated a bit more