Drag Sethlas was already a celebrity in Spain when she entered the Drag Race España workroom. In 2017, she won the Gala Drag Queen of the Carnival of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, performing a remix of Madonna’s Like a Virgin and Judas by Lady Gaga dressed as the Virgin Mary. The icing on the cake was her ending with a jump-split, dressed up as Jesus Christ crucified.
The traditional drag contest held during the Canary Islands’ Carnival drew a lot of attention, and her gig sparked an avalanche of controversy and even received death threats for touching on religious topics. In 2020, she repeated the polemic recipe and won the contest for the second time with a performance inspired by Adam and Eve.
The Canarian artist came to the competition with a lot of expectation. Her drag mother, Drag Vulcano, left the competition far too early in season one and was accused of not being able to show versatility when she refused to take off the platforms – the giant shoes that are a trademark of Canarian drag.
But contrary to the viewers’ perception, Sethlas did bring versatility to the stage. Her jump-split on the Talent Show was unforgettable. Also, she knew exactly when she had to step down from her seven-inch high-heels, as she did with the Balenciaga-inspired gown on Almodovar’s runway and when she won the Ball by using three amazing looks to show the evolution through history of the different means of communication used in the 10th, 20th and 30th centuries in Spain.
Read ahead for our full interview with Sethlas about her time on Drag Race España, her elimination and who she wants to take home the crown.
Sethlas, I just remembered that RuPaul performed at Las Palmas de Gran Canarias’ Carnival one year ahead of Drag Race’s premiere. How is that remembered in the drag scene over there?
I was very young then, and I don’t remember much, but today, after seeing all the success that RuPaul and Drag Race has in Spain, people say that RuPaul created the contest after coming here. Actually, both competitions don’t have that much in common, we are all drag, but in very different styles. American drag has nothing to do with Canarian drag. He may have come up with the idea here, but that’s all.
What is it like to go to a contest like Drag Race after having won Las Palmas de Gran Canarias’ Carnival twice?
I put a lot of pressure and expectation on myself, regardless of my background. But when someone wins something several times, they judge you differently because they already know what you are capable of. If you don’t reach the goals they set for you, they can feel disappointed. It’s different when someone you don’t know shows up and surprises you. I felt much more pressure because they already knew me. Especially in lip-syncs, everybody knows how I am on stage.
Eliminations have been quite emotional. What’s happening behind the cameras?
I was really moved by Ariel’s elimination. That moment reminded me that anyone could go home. Ariel started as one of the most popular contestants, along with Samantha and myself. I thought, ‘If Ariel was sent home today, tomorrow it could be me.’ Samantha’s elimination also affected me a lot. We shared closets, we put on makeup together, and I grew very fond of her. Same with Onyx. The eliminations are becoming emotionally hard because you get closer to some of the girls. The love and admiration we have for each other grows. Also, we don’t have our smartphones, so we end up being psychologists, friends, mothers for each other.
Do you think that Drag Vulcano’s time there influenced your own experience?
Yes, obviously. Vulcano’s elimination meant that I had to adapt to what they were asking for. If that had not happened, I’d probably have done more things on platforms than in heels. I had to change my drag completely. Drag Sethlas’ aesthetic is not even remotely similar to what you saw on TV, mostly because my aesthetic is not so feminine. I tried not to soften the makeup too much because I wanted to see my face. But I’ve never used a wig or heels, corsets, panties, bras, bodysuits, or anything like that. I’m more into thongs, platforms and a bald head. I had to adapt all my drag in a month, and obviously it demanded a lot of me. In the end, I was giving so much versatility – in looks and personality – that somehow it felt like I was being demanded more than the rest of the girls.
Are there any characteristics of Canarian drag that we have not been able to see yet?
Everything can be adapted to the competition, the way I have. For example, in some challenges, I used the platforms that I considered could work well. In other ones I thought, ‘Well, here I’m going to wear heels, it will even look better.’ We love headdresses in iron, with feathers, stones, and other things that really don’t fit in most of the challenges. Our looks are known for their luxury. Also, we have a more androgynous aesthetic that doesn’t work on the runway. On Almodóvar’s runway, for example, it was impossible to adapt the Canarian drag to the runway.
In the last episode, the judges commented that your previous victory made you feel overconfident. What are your opinions on this comment?
I completely disagree. I had no time to relax. The show is recorded continuously. You don’t have time to disconnect, so it was quite the opposite. I was aware that the next challenge was an advertisement, which meant acting and improvising, things that I am not experienced with. Had it been a creative challenge, something like makeup, performing, dancing, I might have relaxed because that’s my thing. But not at all in an acting challenge. It made me become obsessed and demanded even more of myself.
Can you talk to me about that moment in Untucked with Juriji? Was it a reaction to what happened in this particular episode, or was it something that came from before?
It was a direct reaction to that moment.
Do you have a favourite moment from your time on Drag Race?
My favourite episode is the Talent Show. I loved the feeling, the jump-slips, how I left the stage at that moment. It was wonderful. But I really like the moments of laughter with Samantha and those of love with Sharonne. I remember a lot, working and looking for them, hugging them when there were no cameras.
Who would you like to take the crown?
Obviously, the person I think deserves that crown without a second’s hesitation is Sharonne.
What plans do you have for the future?
Right now, we are preparing ourselves for the tour. That is my future for the next six months. I’ll enjoy meeting everyone in person and seeing them enjoy the show. That is what I like the most, to perform.
Are there any plans to return to the Canarian carnival?
Who knows? Never say never, because you never know.
Drag Race España S2 continues every Sunday on Atres Premium in Spain and exclusively on WOW Presents Plus everywhere else. Subscribe via: https://uk.wowpresentsplus.com