By HERMES JOY TUNAC, GMA Integrated News
If you’ve long been a fan of drag, even before the airing of “Drag Race Philippines,” then you probably already know by now Bekenemen. This podcast channel soon became a household name for viewing parties of Drag Race episodes with live drag performances.
In an exclusive interview with GMA News Online, Bekenemen co-founder Baus Rufo recalled how he and Myx Chanel brought to life what was once just a vision of spotlighting queer talents and providing a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Bekenemen started its podcast in September 2021 with its debut recap of “Drag Race UK” Season 3, followed by “Drag Race US” Season 14, “Drag Race UK vs. The World,” “Drag Race All Stars” Season 7, and finally, “Drag Race Philippines” Season 1 and Season 2.
It was only until “Drag Race US” Season 14 that Bekenemen started hosting live viewing parties.
“We tried to build a reputation first, para eventually, when ‘Drag Race Philippines’ come six or seven months after, ready na kami,” Baus said.
As a former general manager of AnyMind Group, Baus used his advertising and account management knowledge to successfully plan how to mount viewing parties.
“Pinaghirapan namin i-build ‘yung audience first, so for the first 11 months of viewing parties, we were just trying to do our own thing, hoping na when ‘Drag Race Philippines’ comes, it would result into something, and luckily, it did naman,” Baus said.
When season 1 of “Drag Race Philippines” started airing in August 2022, Bekenemen saw an outstanding reception from Filipino audiences.
“I still remember the viewing party when we saw the very first Ru message, and then may mga Tagalong references doon, everybody got goosebumps,” he said.
Since then, Baus said the Bekenemen audience grew “because it was bound to grow.”
“For Season 2, the audience became wider in terms of demographic, and then we saw people who prefer experiencing the show in viewing parties instead of just watching it alone,” he said.
“Other changes I’ve noticed in viewing parties is it became an event where couples go there as a date night option or queer kids finding a safe space in our viewing parties,” he added.
According to Baus, the growth of Bekenemen for the past two years was more significant than their original intentions.
“I think it has become so many things rather than just a show for people to watch,” Baus added.
Nothing is set in stone for the future seasons of “Drag Race Philippines,” but what Bekenemen is sure about is it will continue to provide a platform and stepping stone for aspiring queer creatives.
“We wanna keep showcasing queer talent, and at the same time, we want the show also to keep pushing the possibilities of what drag is, and I think we owe that to the drag queens we have on our show,” he said.
“I want Bekenemen to be a creative playground for the artists because that is something we are very proud of,” he concluded.
The “Drag Race Philippines” Season 2 finale will air on Wednesday on HBO Go and WOW Presents Plus.
—MGP, GMA Integrated News