Even though drag queens have been firing up the stages in Singapore for years with awesome amounts of shade and sass, an upcoming live show suddenly became a matter serious enough to be discussed in Parliament.
Dr. Lee Bee Wah — a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Nee Soon GRC, wants to know if the shows featuring celebrity drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race is safe for consumption in Singapore.
For those of you who don’t know, RuPaul’s Drag Race is a reality series featuring drag queens competing for the top spot in a competition through various challenges to win US$ 100,000 in cash and other prizes. Television personality RuPaul acts as the series host, mentor, and head judge. The live show is set to make its Singapore debut on Feb 2 at the Kallang Theatre. The TV series and the fourth ongoing season of its All-Stars spin-off are currently available on Netflix Singapore.
Basically, the MP wants answers about how the young crowd here is being kept safe from the raunchy, glamorous and downright sassy content during the live drag queen performances held here. Lee’s probably asking because of late, local fans of the Emmy-winning reality TV series have been treated to frequent visits by its celebrity contestants in Singapore, including Bianca Del Rio and Sasha Velour. Next month, we’ll even see RuPaul’s Drag Race World Tour making its Singapore stage debut, featuring performances from the show’s season 10 queens.
These are the questions Lee asked the MCI (Ministry of Communications and Information):
- How the age restriction for the audience is determined for such shows?
- The criteria for approving such performances.
- How MCI deals with approval and censorship of performances dealing with LGBT issues?
- Whether the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has received objections to the RuPaul’s Drag Race show here.
Minister for Communications and Information, S. Iswaran said in a written reply that The Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA) has received the art entertainment licence application for the RuPaul’s Drag Race live show to be held next month and will be assessing it for content classification. IMDA is guided by the Arts Entertainment Classification Code (AECC) which sets out the classification system and the principles of classification.
There are four classification ratings for arts entertainment – General, Advisory, Advisory 16, and Restricted 18 (R18). Shows rated R18 is age restricted and can only be viewed by those aged 18 and above.
Mr Iswaran stated that several similar shows have previously been staged in Singapore and these shows were classified R18 in view of the mature content and have not attracted much feedback.
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 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.
Lee has been known to show her distaste concerning the state of Singapore’s LGBT equality in the past. Just last month, the Member of Parliament walked out of a meeting with two of her residents after they asked for her views on Section 377A, the archaic law that criminalizes sex between men in Singapore.