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Bonjour, bonjour… bonjour. Oui, GAY TIMES is currently speaking fluent French to commemorate the launch of Drag Race France, the latest international edition in RuPaul’s Emmy Award-winning franchise.

Hosted by season 12 alum Nicky Doll, who makes herstory as the second contestant to host a series after Brooke Lynn Hytes, the first season introduces 10 fierce French competitors who will, as per, compete in maxi-challenges, runways and lip-sync showdowns to be crowned France’s First Drag Superstar.

The premiere, which received overwhelmingly positive reviews on social media, saw the contestants flex their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent with lip-sync performances, live vocals, burlesque and more. In the words of one viewer, “Drag Race France HAS TALENT!”

“I was gagged every time,” Nicky tells GAY TIMES of the talent show. “This season was so emotional for me because when I did season 12, my goal was to represent my country the best I can and make my country proud.”

The Mistress of Ceremonies, who sits alongside TV host Daphné Bürki and French DJ/activist Kiddy Smile on the judging panel, says hosting the series was a no-brainer because it’s important for her to “level up the drag scene” in France and “make sure these girls are paid what they deserve and not just a cheap 80 bucks”.

Read ahead for our full interview with Nicky about following in the footsteps of RuPaul, Brooke, Supremme de Luxe and more as the host of Drag Race France, why she does not plan on stealing your husband and whether her new gig rules out a potential comeback on All Stars.

Nicky, condragulations on Drag Race France! The premiere was absolutely outstanding. How are you finding the reception so far?

It was definitely big shoes to fill. There can only be one RuPaul but, at the end of the day, being the one who broke through in that field as the first French queen [on Drag Race], I was really humbled to be the one to represent as host and highlight these girls. As you saw, there’s so much talent in this country and they deserve to have a spotlight. Overall, I’m very happy and I think the premiere was really well received, so I’m over the moon!

How have you found the entire process so far, especially the shift from contestant to host?

When I realised that I would be on the other side, I felt like it would be much easier! When you sit on the other side as someone who has a past as a contestant and have girls with big dreams who are fighting in order to get to the top, you have empathy that you didn’t expect. I feel like it connected me to be able to give my best for these girls and really understand them. It gave me this big sister energy that I didn’t think I’d have. It made us bond a lot.

Is this what surprised you most about being a judge?

Yeah, because it made eliminations very hard, very emotional. I didn’t win [season 12]. I got eliminated, so I know what it means to have your dreams crushed. You know when you didn’t have the best parents and then you become a parent and try to do a better job? You’re trying to do things you wish you had. You really try to remember your past as a contestant and I think I did. It was so much fun, I did not want it to end. I was like, ‘Can we bring more girls in?’ I was comfortable in my seat and I wanted to do more.

Prior to filming, did you speak with RuPaul or any of the other international hosts? Did you get any tips?

I actually reached out to Michelle. When she heard the news, we texted and she gave me some advice. We had a long talk where she basically told me how she does it and that it always has to come from love. She was actually really helpful because she really loves what she does and she loves every queen. She said, ‘At the end of the day, you have to do a job and you have to make sure that what you’re saying and doing is fair.’ I listened and did the same. And RuPaul, we talked a few times when I was on set and he invited me to do Pete Davidson’s makeup for SNL. I think, overall, RuPaul shaped me to have the shoulders to accept such a big opportunity. Everything that I’ve experienced with Ru since I was on the show shaped me to where I am now.

As host, how did you make sure you were true to Nicky Doll instead of trying to embody RuPaul and her classic Ru-isms?

I think, if France had English as their first language, it would be really hard to get out of the RuPaul-isms. But, because I’m doing it in a whole different language and culture, I was able to keep some of the campiness and American-isms but turn it into a French recipe and make it my own. For example, I would not have liked to have been in Brooke Lynn Hytes’ shoes, to have to do it in English as well. I think she did an incredible job of making it her own. In French, I think it was easier for me to stay away from Ru’s ways by still keeping what was really successful and making it understandable for French people as well. American sense-of-humour and French sense-of-humour is very different, we’re very dry and sharp. We’re actually closer to the UK. So, it was easier to shape it to what France wants to see and relate to.

For viewers who are yet to watch the series and are unfamiliar with French drag, how would you describe the scene?

French drag definitely puts a lot of effort into the aesthetic. We come from a country that has a lot of history with couture and fashion, so aesthetic is very important. There’s a lot of look queens, but there’s also a lot of cabaret. Before drag – the way we know it now – became more mainstream, there’s always been a lot of cabaret with queens impersonating, for example Liza Minelli, seven days a week. So, you have that essence of the edgy and underground cabaret, as well as a lot of live singing. We have comedy queens too, so there’s a lot that France has and we have our own way of doing it. Now, the industry of drag is much greener than in the UK or the US. First of all, because we don’t have a one dollar bill, so the tipping concept is not a thing unless you wanna break someone’s brain with a coin. I think that having Drag Race will help to level up the industry.

Were you familiar with any of these queens prior to the series?

I left France seven-and-a-half years ago, so I knew some of them, but a lot of them were people I’ve seen on social media that I didn’t know personally. I think it made my job easier to discover them on the show without having too much of a personal opinion. I knew Kam [Hugh], La Grande Dame, Lolita Banana and Paloma, but everyone else I got the pleasure to discover them on the set with their skills in the challenges.

Speaking of challenges, that talent show… Nicky, I was floored.

The thing is, when I was shooting it I was really worried that we were starting with a talent show. Because the industry is still up-and-coming, I didn’t know if the girls would have the money to back it up and be able to bring it. I was gagged every time. This season was so emotional for me because when I did season 12, my goal was to represent my country the best I can and make my country proud. Once I did it, I decided to come back to France and do the work to level up the drag scene and make sure these girls are paid what they deserve and not just a cheap 80 bucks when it probably costs more to get to the club back and forth. Then, sitting there in full drag behind my table looking at the talent show… I think I cried every single episode because of the amount of emotion. Talking about it, I have chills.

Did you have a lot of input into the series, such as the casting and the nature of the maxi-challenges?

Initially, I was offered to have more say in the casting. I was about to say yes, but I decided to back up. Casting a show is a job. It is a professional skill that you have to learn because you’re not just looking for the best of the best, you’re also looking for the difference of personalities and how they can compliment each other. I’m not delusional so I was like, ‘I don’t think I have this skill and I’m going to stick to what is asked of me, which is to give my insight about drag. So, you pick the girls and I will do my job behind the table!’ When it comes to the challenges, I wanted to do a lot and inject a lot of my things into it, but the first season I really let the producers and writers, who are just as passionate as I am, lead their own fantasy. Who knows about the future?

The panel primarily sees what is presented to them on the runway. So, when you watched the first episode and saw the queens interact in the werkroom, what surprised you the most?

When I watched the first episode, I was surprised to see how Elips, for example, was a little shy. She seemed overwhelmed, but when I saw the talent show, I saw a superstar. That lip-sync was, to me, the cleanest and most organised one. It had a full concept, she did not shake whatsoever and looked at us straight in the eyes. The difference between the person behind the character and the superstar on the stage, I was like, ‘Oh! Surprising.’ Overall, I think they represent themselves pretty well in private and on stage. As of now, they all seem to like each other…

International versions of Drag Race have had an unprecedented impact in their respective countries. How would you like this series to affect the drag scene in France?

I would love this series to impact, not just the drag scene in France, but the queer community. This show is not just a perfect representation of the art of drag in France, it’s also an amazing documentary about testimonies of different people within the country. On Drag Race France, you can be educated about what a trans woman is or being an immigrant moving from Mexico to France, or being a plus-size person. Once you meet someone who is different from you and you understand their background, somehow you relate to something that has happened to them and it’s normalised. When it comes to the drag scene, it’s time for people to stop seeing drag as a sexual vice or something sketchy we’re doing to trick straight men into our beds and steal straight women’s husbands. Baby, I don’t want your husband. He’s not that cute! Also, just to appreciate the art and the commitment and the investment that it is to be a drag queen. Drag is a vessel to showcase other types of art. It’s time for France to see that art. What the UK and US don’t realise is that the whole world really looks at your queens as people who can work full time and have a career out of it. Not a lot of other countries can say that. When I left France, I didn’t know one single queen – besides the cabaret queen who would work seven days a week – who didn’t have a job on the side in order to pay her rent. That needs to change.

Now that you’re a Drag Race host, does that rule out a comeback on All Stars? Where do you stand on that?

You know, I always answer the same way and I usually have a crowd in front of me. I always say, ‘Should I?’ That’s it. I don’t think I have an opinion yet. You never know.

‘Should I?’

Should I? It always works, in that sultry Sharon Stone voice. They’re always like, ‘YAAS!’ Honestly, I don’t know. I love being on the TV and challenging myself. I have no ego whatsoever and I’m a hard worker, so we never know. As of now, I’m happy focusing on being a host, making sure that my country and franchise is doing the best it can and that my girls are getting the celebration they deserve. We’ll see…

Drag Race France airs Thursdays at 7pm BST exclusively on the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus. Subscribe via