‘Shantay you stay!’: workshop seeks to spread drag queen art in Amazonas

Aritana Tibira Shaolin and Harmoya Dórémi Jabutt, creators of the workshop "Eu, Drag Queen" (Reproduction/Projeto Pense Drag)
Yana Lima – From Cenarium Amazon Magazine

MANAUS (AM) – The Pense Drag project, with support from the Manaus Faz Cultura Program and the Municipal Council of Culture, has launched the 2nd class of the “Eu, Drag Queen” Artistic Workshop, promoted by drag sisters Harmoya Dórémi Jabutt and Aritana Tibira Shaolin, to reveal new talents. With ten places available, the training will take place on January 26 and 27 at the Instituto Vidas, in Manaus Downtown. The idea is to develop skills in make-up, look construction, stage presence and performance techniques.

The initiative, covered by the Manaus Faz Cultura 2023 public notice, emphasizes inclusion, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. “Drag art is not limited to gender identification, sexuality and other forms of identification. So, whether you are trans, cis, gay, lesbian, straight or non-binary, we will work to ensure that you are welcomed during this training in a safe space for expression and learning”, says the application’s text.

Contrary to popular belief, being a drag queen has nothing to do with gender identity or sexual orientation. It’s an art and anyone can immerse themselves in this universe. Drag queens don’t go about their daily lives dressed up. It’s a character, an artistic expression that may or may not include exaggerated elements attributed to the female sex. This construction of gender, however, has gone beyond the feminine and many drag queens today have a non-binary aesthetic, i.e. one that doesn’t represent the male or female gender.

Aritana Tibira Shaolin and Harmoya Dórémi Jabutt during the ‘Eu, Drag Queen’ first edition workshop (Release/Projeto Pense Drag)

According to Harmonya Dórémi, one of the organizers of the event, the approach also incorporates elements of psychoanalysis to explain the construction of the drag persona and the character’s projection, highlighting the importance of self-expression in this art form.

The necessary materials will be provided by the project, with guidance on techniques, tricks and the development of the drag persona. Registration is open and questions can be sent to [email protected] and [email protected].


The first workshop was held on November 24 and 25 last year, starting with a theoretical moment that covered different types of drag, the different ways of acting and the spaces in which a drag can express herself – whether in politics, science, on stage, in the streets, fighting for rights, among others. The idea is to inspire students to develop their own artistic practices.

The first edition of the workshop took place in November 2023 (Disclosure/Projeto Pense Drag)

The participation of artist Dani Maresia Souza dos Santos, 21, was a journey of discovery and expression. The persona she adopted is called Neblina Colorida, born during the Pense Drag event and characterized by a vibrant aesthetic that uses authorial texts to share personal experiences, experiences and challenges as a trans person.

Dani stresses the importance of going beyond the superficial perception of drag art, showing that behind the entertainment there is a real person. “People act like it’s just entertainment, but it’s not that. I try to show that I’m still a person, I still feel, I still experience very heavy things because I’m a trans person, I still go through very sad situations. So I like to put all this in my texts and express it so that people have this shock of reality that not everything is just a colorful fog”, she says.

Neblina Colorida is Dani Maresia’s drag (Reproduction/Personal Archive)

Mateus Salazar, a 23-year-old university student, took part in the workshop without any practical experience of drag, but with a deep respect for the form of artistic expression. The highlight of the workshop for him was the importance of expanding his knowledge of the art form.

For the student, drag is more than just a performance; it’s a story, a form of expression that deserves to be understood and respected. “It was very important for me, because I’ve always been very appreciative, but I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know the history of drag art. And I was taught this over the two days of the workshop. On the first day, we learned this, the importance of drag art, what it means to be drag”, recalled Mateus.

The drag scene

Harmonya Dórémi has been performing drag for seven years. She shares the artistic scene with her sister Aritana Tibira, a writer and seller of her own short stories, who has six years’ experience. Harmonya is also a psychologist who integrates performances and courses into her artistic practice, but keeps psychology as her main profession. The pair coordinate the “Pense Drag” project, which combines art, science and artistic interventions, including workshops, statistics and presentations.

Harmonya and Aritana coordinate the ‘Pense Drag’ project (Release/Projeto Pense Drag)

Although the drag scene in Manaus still lacks articulation, the initiative seeks to expand the scene in the city and stimulate the emergence of new drags and artists, as well as bringing people closer to this form of expression.

Harmonya explains that drag art in the North can reflect local culture by incorporating, for example, elements such as colors associated with the bumbás Garantido and Caprichoso, the use of indigenous clothing and handmade accessories made by indigenous artists so that drags in the North can transmit cultural information through their performances.

“The body serves as a canvas that will show people who consume drag art, which is a visual art, a performance art, also this cultural information from our environment, from our territory”, explains Dórémi.


Drag queen is a term that goes beyond the definition of a man dressed as a woman. The origin of the name comes from the English verb “to drag”, a reference to the long female costumes on stage.

Drag culture evolved over time and stopped being associated only with satire and comedy, taking on a more glamorous persona in the 60s. During the 70s and 80s, drag queens became symbols of the fight for LGBTQIAPN+ rights (lesbian, gay, bis, trans, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual/agender, pan, non-binary and more. In the 1990s, the film “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” marked the popularization of this artistic expression.

Trailer for the movie ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ (Reproduction/Gay Theme Channel/Youtube)

The iconic drag queen RuPaul established herself as a superstar in the 2000s and her reality show Ru Paul’s Drag Race has popularized drag in pop culture. She is the owner of iconic catchphrases such as “shantay, you stay”, a phrase that the presenter says to the winners of the lipsync battle, and “sashay, away”, when the drag queen leaves the competition.

RuPaul, icon of drag culture, became a game changer with the show RuPaul’s Drag Race.

In Brazil, the drag scene has had its ups and downs, resurging in the 1990s with artists like Márcia Pantera and Sylvetti Montilla. Today, São Paulo is considered the center of the Brazilian drag scene, with parties and a nightclub specializing in drag shows.

Read also: Northern drag queen draws inspiration from love relationships and releases first career single

Edited by Adrisa De Góes
Reviewed by Adriana Gonzaga
Translated by Bruno Sena

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