Past shows in Singapore similar to RuPaul's Drag Race 'have not attracted much feedback': Iswaran

RuPaul takes the stage during the taping of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2 in Culver City on 31 July, 2009. (PHOTO: Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
RuPaul takes the stage during the taping of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2 in Culver City on 31 July, 2009. (PHOTO: Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Past shows similar to an upcoming world tour featuring drag queens in Singapore have not attracted “much feedback” from the public, said the Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran on Tuesday (15 January).

Iswaran was responding in a written reply to a parliamentary question by MP for Nee Soon GRC Lee Bee Wah on whether the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) had received objections to RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World 2019 World Tour, set to be held on 2 February at the Kallang Theatre.

Lee also asked about the criteria for approving such performances, how the MCI handles “approval and censorship of performances dealing with LGBT issues” and how the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) determines the classification ratings for such shows.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race is a variety show and similar shows have been staged previously in Singapore. Past shows have generally been classified R18 in view of the mature content and have not attracted much feedback,” said Iswaran.

The Emmy award-winning American reality show sees drag queens – typically defined as men who dress in women’s clothing – competing against each other to win US$100,000 in cash and other prizes. Television personality RuPaul acts as the series’ host, mentor, and head judge.

The world tour – hosted by Michelle Visage, one of the show’s regular judges – will feature performances by the series’ Season 10 contestants as well as fan favourites, including Detox and Kim Chi.

Drag queens from the popular TV series have previously held shows in Singapore, including Sasha Velour, Shangela, and Bianca Del Rio. The world tour, however, marks the first time the official RuPaul’s Drag Race live show will be staged in Singapore.

The TV series, and the fourth ongoing season of its All-Stars spin-off, are currently available on Netflix Singapore.

Iswaran said that the IMDA has received the arts entertainment licence application for the world tour and will assess the performance in accordance with the Arts Entertainment Classification Code (AECC).

The IMDA administers the regulatory regime for arts entertainment, which includes plays, variety shows, and art exhibitions. There are four classification ratings under the AECC: General, Advisory, Advisory 16 and Restricted 18 (R18).

R18 content can only be viewed by those 18 and above, while those beyond the R18 rating will not be allowed.

Any performance which deals with more mature themes or content, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) content, would be given a higher classification rating, said Iswaran.

For those with a rating higher than General, the IMDA will issue a consumer advice to allow the public to make an informed decision, as well as guide parents on the suitability of the content for their children.

The rating and consumer advice issued by the IMDA for the performance must be reflected in all of its publicity materials, at ticketing booths and event venues.

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