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Heidi Klum drag queen show sparks controversy

Rebecca Staudenmaier
July 1, 2019

Following the success of "RuPaul's Drag Race" in the US, Germany is poised to get its own drag queen competition show. But fans are unimpressed with the choice of host Heidi Klum, with thousands calling for her removal.

Heidi Klum
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo

Plans for Germany's first-ever drag queen talent show have received considerable pushback from the LGBTQ community, after it was revealed that supermodel Heidi Klum will be the main host.

Last week, TV channel ProSieben announced that a drag queen competition show called "Queen of Drags" will premiere at the end of the year.

The show takes after the popular US series "RuPaul's Drag Race," which was launched by singer and drag superstar RuPaul Charles. Over the past 10 years, the show has helped boost drag culture into the mainstream in the US and garnered fans around the world.

The German format sounds like it will differ slightly from the original US version, in that the 10 drag performers will live in a mansion together while they compete in weekly challenges.

Besides Klum, the judges on the show will consist of Austrian Eurovision winner and drag star Conchita Wurst, as well as Tokio Hotel lead singer Bill Kaulitz.

"I love and have been in awe of the art of drag for years," Klum said in a statement. "In 'Queen of Drags' we will show the creative facets of the drag world."

Some members of Germany's drag scene, however, are not as enthused.

Thousands back petition to remove Klum

By Monday, over 20,000 people had signed a petition calling for Klum to be removed from the show and "to replace her with a queer person."

"Finally a queer show is being produced for German television, but the front figure is anything but queer — basically handing the cake to the straight white woman while we are, once again, left with the crumbs," the petition states.

Drag performers Ryan Stecken and Margo Schlönzke, who launched the petition, note that Klum has been a supporter of the LGBTQ community, but charge that she lacks the knowledge needed to lead the show.

They also are worried that with Klum at the helm, ProSieben is trying to target a "heteronormative audience" and that the show will no longer be about educating the public about drag in the way that "RuPaul's Drag Race" has done.

Klum, who previously hosted the US fashion competition "Project Runway," has particularly come under fire during her longtime role as the host of "Germany's Next Top Model."

Other critics have also taken issue with Klum's performance as the host of "Germany's Next Top Model," and worry that her performance there could repeat itself in the drag show.

Critics have repeatedly called out Klum for sexist remarks she's made about the female contestants on the modeling competition show, including comments such as: "I don't want to see anything wobble" or "Have you gotten pregnant since the last time we've seen you?"

Olivia Jones: 'We have to fight for freedom of speech'

German queens 'don't have to hide' behind US colleagues

Although Klum has been under fire, she's gotten the backing of one of Germany's most famous drag queens — Olivia Jones.

"This is the first time drag queens in Germany will have their own prime time show on a major German TV channel," Jones wrote on her website. She will also reportedly make an appearance on the upcoming ProSieben show.

Jones also noted that Klum gave drag queens a platform on "Germany's Next Top Model" and advocated for Germany to get its own drag queen-centric show.

"Finally German drag queens can show everyone that they don't have to hide behind their American colleagues and that we have an unbelievably diverse scene," Jones said.

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