Drag star Pangina Heals has been tapped to co-host the recently announced debut season of Drag Race Thailand, alongside stylist and designer Art Arya.
Famous for popularizing the dance genre known as "waacking," Pangina studied fine arts at UCLA, where she first developed her larger-than-life character and her razor-sharp satire. Back in Thailand, she went on to win the country's first drag reality competition, T Battle, and competed on Thailand Dance Now and em>Lip Sync Battle Thailand.
The half Thai-half Taiwanese performer, who hosts weekly parties at Bangkok's chic Maggie Choo's, says she's bringing her unique cross-cultural perspective to the show.
"I want to bring a lot of culture from the Thai side and the craft and nitty-gritty details we've been trained to see," she tells NewNowNext. "I also understand the Western side of drag after four years in L.A., so merging those two cultures together I hope I bring in something new and relevant. Drag is a passion, something that should be spread—like a disease!”
All-Stars Season Three queen Shangela recently welcomed Pangina to the Drag Race family.
Fenton Bailey of World of Wonder, which is licensing the Drag Race format to producers at the Kantana Group, is excited to see what contestants bring to the main stage when the show premieres later this winter.
“We’re totally excited about Drag Race Thailand ," he tells NewNowNext. "Drag is part of the Thai culture, in some ways more than it has been in the U.S., historically speaking. Even though they are following the format, I want them to bring their own inimitable style and characteristics."
Bailey says the show shouldn't be a "slavish copy" of the American version: "they should being their own creativity, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. And I think they are doing that!"
"Thailand's known as 'the land of smiles,'" he added, "and that’s perfect... because, ultimately, joy is in the DNA of Drag Race."
Stateside, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 premieres Thursday, January 25 at 8/7c on VH1.