The name behind some of the most successful projects in Spanish television when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, Javier Ambrossi, alongside with his partner Javier Calvo, has established what diversity means in television nowadays.
Veneno was the first television series in Spain to have trans characters played by trans actresses and also boasted trans people working behind the cameras in all the different production sectors of the series.
In conversation with GAY TIMES, the Madrid-based filmmaker shares how he dealt with the eliminations on Drag Race España, talks about this new era of LGBTQ+ representation on TV and reveals if RuPaul herself is sashaying her way to Spain.
What can we expect from the contestants of this first season of Drag Race España?
I would highlight the warmth they have. I have fallen in love with all of them. Take into account that it’s the first time we do this show, so it has this thing of not knowing what is going to happen, some naivety. Also an overflowing talent, apart from their style because Spain has many different styles of drag, each one of them has her own style, representing different current movements. I’m hopeful the show will work and we will see them become stars. Their personal stories will bring new discussions to Spain, because many of them are non-binary, for example, we will have different gender identities. It will enrich the culture and Spain in all levels.
I’d love to hear RuPaul repeating “Mis chicas, por favor” like she already did once instead of her classic “bring back my girls”. Has she been involved in any way in making the show?
I can’t tell you anything. I can only tell you that Javi and I spoke with RuPaul, we had a video call a couple of weeks ago and everything was fine. She’s very happy with what we are doing.
How have you experienced the eliminations?
For us it has been totally organic. We have taken it seriously, we have been part of every decision, we debated all the decisions endlessly. I don’t know if it is easy for the public to guess but for us it has been very difficult, because drag is sometimes very subjective. It’s an art that sometimes depends on personal taste. For us, the decisions have been very difficult to make and everyone took part equally, be it Ana, Javi, Supremme, the guest judge or myself.
Television has been going through a difficult period, do you think we are witnessing a rejuvenation of this platform?
I don’t know if rejuvenation but I do see that there is more diversity. In periods of crisis, everyone starts looking for something else. They realise that what there is is not enough. More than a crisis, it’s an opportunity. This is happening in Spain, we are very attentive to what the public demands. I think LGBTQ+ stories should stop being a niche and start becoming mainstream. LGBTQ+ stories are human and by the mere fact of being human it’s already mainstream.
Creators generally speak about their projects having a message, a goal. What do you intend to achieve or transmit by participating in Drag Race?
What we want is to make it as big as possible. May the message of the drag world reach all corners of Spain, may it also become an international phenomenon. Because it’s going to do us all very good. If the word ‘drag’ spreads throughout Spain, we are all going to benefit because it’s something that will make us freer, the world of drag makes us more open, it takes us out of the box in which we put ourselves and makes us start questioning things.
What has it been like working with the RuPaul team? Do you consider their vision very different from the Spanish one? Have you found much difference on a cultural level?
I think we have made a very Spanish adaptation while respecting the original format. People will find little details of the Spanish culture. We couldn’t help being who we are! There is some enthusiasm, passion, touching, and holding. The format has changed naturally, but respecting it.
Drag or transvestism in Spain has a tradition of feeding on folkloric singers. Do you think this has changed in the face of a more global vision of the show?
I guess so. It’s indeed changing, although no one will ever be able to beat Rocío Jurado and her legacy. Whenever a Spanish drag takes the stage, her legendary figure is somehow present.
Speaking about the franchise in general. Who are your favourite queens?
My top one is Brooke Lynn Hytes, absolutely in love with her. Top two, Valentina, although for a long time she has been my top one. And three, Symone, I think she is a fair winner and represents today a lot.
Who would you play in the Snatch Game?
I would play Lydia Bosch in Motivos personales. It’s my life, it would be amazing, right? That would be real drag!
What is your favourite song to lip sync?
I’m very folkloric, but at the same time I can listen to a whole album of Aitana. TELÉFONE by Aitana, I would do very well.
And Whitney Houston?
Of course, always, but that is more universal. Whitney Houston must always be done. You have to do one of Whitney’s songs, one of Rocío and then always one of OT [Operación Triunfo]. And also Vas a volverme loca by Natalia.
Drag Race España premiered in the UK on Sunday May 30th exclusively on the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus. Subscribe via visiting: https://uk.