The drag scene in Monterrey isn’t new, but until recently, only one or two venues hosted the occasional drag night. But in the last few years, changing attitudes and the popularity of drag culture have given way for an event like Regias del Drag to thrive. Through four seasons, Regias del Drag – which bills itself as the “most entertaining drag competition in the northern part of the country” – has provided visibility to the drag world.
“It has been growing in acceptance, so we’ve been polishing our craft all the time,” Maria Bonita, winner of season two of RDD, tells me. “And each show has been opening the audience’s eyes a little bit more, making it not just about a man in drag, but about the message we are trying to express with our art.”
On February 1, Regias del Drag celebrated its second anniversary at La Carniceria Mty. More than 30 drag acts performed – both individual and group shows – and multiple characters and personalities took center stage. Carlos Briano – aka Bree – Ana Dalay and Paty Piñata brought this event to life, with just one goal in mind: “The art of drag above all.”
In a short time span, the competition has become one of the most vibrant and culturally significant of the city’s drag ecosystem, making it sort of the center for a community that is gaining more mainstream appeal and carving its own unique identity.
“Mexico City has a very diverse scene with many places that welcome drag queens, whereas in Monterrey, we don’t even have a proper drag bar,” says Eia Noel, winner of the third season of RDD. “So I think the atmosphere, like our drag, is a little more aggressive, a little more out there… I don’t really think cowboy culture plays a defining role in Monterrey’s drag scene, since it is associated with a very macho attitude and drags are more effeminate.”
Paty Piñata agrees, painting a scene that challenges tradition. “You get all sorts of characters in the show, like the housewife or the maid, many pop singers influenced by US celebrity culture, or even a local norteño folk performance…,” Paty says. “But it does not take ahold of as a main theme, despite traditions and region. Performers usually try to get away from those local stereotypes, challenging macho culture and identity roles.”
Though northern Mexico is sometimes influenced by US culture (Ru Paul’s Drag Race, for example, was the main inspiration for RDD), it has its own identity, separate from the US and the rest of Mexico. Ahead of the fifth season of Regias del Drag, which begins March 2019, we headed to La Carniceria Mty to document the scene.