Minty Fresh is fierce, fabulous and forever fresh | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Months after she shot the first season of “Drag Race Philippines” and months before the show started streaming, thousands upon thousands of Filipinos had a memorable Minty Fresh moment without realizing it.

Clad in an all-pink ensemble with pink thigh-high boots and a super high ponytail accentuated by a pearl headband, Minty led the crowd at then-VP Leni Robredo’s PasigLaban rally into singing the Ariana Grande song “Break Free.”

It was such an epic moment, a viral moment—this sea of pink singing the same song with such fervor—that Grande herself reposted clips with teary-eyed emojis and the words “I could not believe this was real.”

Perhaps it came as a surprise to “Drag Race” fans later on that the drag queen-slash-makeup artist behind that powerful performance would turn to be soft-spoken and chill (who says all drag queens have to be loud?)—so soft-spoken and chill that midway through the competition, the judges urged her to “wake up.”

But Minty Fresh wasn’t sleeping—not with two RuBadges on her chest, not with a lip-sync against Brigiding that was so good neither of them could be sent home, not with her consistent killer looks and that flawless mug, not with her winning both the mini and maxi challenge in one episode. “I experienced everything. Yung korona na lang talaga yung kulang,” she said in her final “Untucked” episode when she exited as the top 5 queen just before the show’s final episode.

Why did you join “Drag Race Philippines?”

I’ve always been a fan of “Drag Race.” It was a dream talaga na magkaroon ng “Drag Race Philippines” so nung nagkaroon, pinush ko talaga. I felt like it would elevate my drag, mas malalagay ko out there yung drag ko and not just my drag but yung drag scene ng Philippines.

Favorite moment from the show and why?

It’s surprising pero yung naging favorite ko talaga is yung away namin ni Brigiding. I didn’t expect na doon kami magkakaroon ng ganung argument or moment. It became iconic for me.

Do people quote “Baliw!” when they see you now?

Yeah! After that episode aired, when I would go to clubs, ako yung sinasabihan ng “baliw,” parang mali yata. (Laughs)

You had so many fantastic looks in the show. Which ones were your favorites?

The pink runway, the vagina dress because it has a deeper meaning. Another favorite is the pearl runway. And yung last is the Filipiniana. Pangarap ko lang siyang masuot and nag-risk ako to ask the designer Santi Obcena to borrow it.

What “Drag Race PH” moment are you proudest of?

Marami eh pero ang unang pumasok sa isip ko is yung “Pop Off, Ate” not only for me but the whole cast. Up until now pinapatugtog siya sa clubs and nakakakilig siya ‘pag naririnig namin.

What are your thoughts on the judges?

Okay naman. May mga judges na intimidating at first and nakakapressure to be judged by them but I wouldn’t wish for a different lineup of judges.

How does it feel to have people around the world embrace the show?

Nakakatuwa and at the same time nakaka-overwhelm and pressure. Hindi namin inexpect na magiging ganun siya ka-big. Kinakabahan pa nga kami before the airing na “Sh_t sana tanggapin siya ng tao” or “Sana mag-boom yung show.”

What do you hope it would show the world about Filipino drag queens?

I think we’ve shown it in Season One—na Filipino queens, kahit saan mo ilagay at kahit sinong Filipino queen may kanya-kanyang talent yan and very world-class ang talent ng Filipino drag scene. Nakakatuwa na nakita siya ng buong mundo kahit a glimpse lang. Sana magkaroon pa ng ibang season para mas marami pang mapakita yung Filipino drag scene.

What impact would you like the show to have in the Philippines?

Gusto ko na sana mas mabigyan ng opportunities yung drag queens hindi lang sa drag scene. The queens here are more than just queens in the clubs. You can put them anywhere, even in the mainstream world. That was one of my goals in entering “Drag Race”—to elevate the drag scene, mailabas ko siya sa clubs at mas maintroduce siya sa buong mundo. We aren’t just club queens, we can do everything, anything.

What’s the weirdest thing a fan has done to get your attention?

Yung pinakanawe-weirdan ako and medyo naa-annoy ako is yung pag hinahawakan yung face ko. Yeah, naeexperience ko siya sa clubs. Parang … it’s o- … no hindi eh, hindi siya okay eh. Bigla akong magugulat na may hahaplos ng makeup ko eh medyo pet peeve ko siya.

What’s your favorite catchphrase from the show?

Syempre yung catchphrase ko na no, lalayo pa ba ako? Yung “at least maganda.” Feeling ko kasi very relatable siya, like, maliitin man ng iba at least maganda. (Laughs)

How did you feel about your elimination?

Actually, akala ko magiging super sad ako. Pero when it happened, it wasn’t super heavy for me. Umalis ako ng “Drag Race” na light yung heart ko.

That final lip-sync was so emotional—what do you remember from it?

Handa ako sa lip-sync na yun but hindi ako handa na si Xilhouete yung makatapat ko. Lahat ng plans ko for the lip-sync, reveals and all, hindi ko nagawa. Parang na-blank ako. It was a really emotional lip-sync.

How has the show impacted your relationship with Xilhouete?Kung ano kami sa show, ganun din kami backstage sa Nectar. Now, we’re closer than ever.

If you could do it again, what would you do differently?

Siguro mas magiging handa ako sa looks na dadalhin ko kasi, pandemic nun eh, so yung resources namin were very limited. Siguro kung uulitin ko siya, may mga mas idadagdag ako sa looks, mas mapo-polish ko pa siya.

Grabe, hindi pa ba ready yun?

(Laughs) I mean may room for improvement.

The fans can be super loving but also vicious to queens they don’t like—what are your thoughts on that?

For me naman kasi kung makikilala yung name mo sa social media or kung saan man, hindi naman siya all positive eh. Parang part talaga siya. It’s a double-edged sword. For me, as much as possible, yung mga hate comments and all, dedmahin na lang. Nandyan naman yung block button eh. Maa-affect ka pa nun eh. Dun na lang tayo mag-focus sa positive.

What has been your biggest lesson from “Drag Race?”

Kahit gaano ka ka-prepared, there’s always room for improvement and kahit gaano ka kagaling sa tingin mo, merong mas magaling sa’yo. So ang pinakadapat mo lang gawin is to improve yourself and be open to evolve lagi.

What do you want people to know about you and your drag, that they did not see in the show?

Feeling ko naman napakita ko siya, isa naman yun sa goal ko sa loob, na mapatunayan na si Minty Fresh is not just a look queen—mas marami siyang kayang gawin pa. Cold-hearted siya pero cold yan with a heart.

How has the show changed your life?

Sobra. Nakaka-overwhelm. Parang all eyes on you lalo na nung nag-air. Minsan nakakatuwa pero minsan nakakatakot din in a way. Naa-appreciate ko naman the love na pinapakita ng “Drag Race” fans.

Where can people catch you and see more of your work? I have weekly gigs at Nectar. Kami ni [Lady]Morgana, weekly kami nasa Nectar. Pinopost ko naman yung mga shows aside from Nectar (@minortiz on Instagram). May vlog ako, bumalik na ako sa pag-va-vlog on YouTube. And my merch is available on @mintyfreshmerch.

What are your plans post-”Drag Race”?

Syempre tuloy-tuloy lang yung shows … kung may opportunity to do “Drag Race” again, why not, ‘di ba? Very open ako to do “Drag Race” again. What do you love the most about being a drag queen? Ang pinaka-bet ko sa pagiging drag queen is the fantasy talaga. When I’m in full Minty Fresh gear na, iba yung feeling talaga eh. Hindi ko siya mae-explain until ma-experience talaga ng tao kung ano yung sinasabi kong fantasy.

What else would you like to add?

Sana suportahan ng “Drag Race” fans kaming 12 queens, kahit tapos na yung season, kahit magkaroon na ng ibang seasons, sana hindi nila kami makalimutan. Keep on supporting the drag industry of the Philippines because it’s very colorful and very full of talent.

“Drag Race Philippines” and “Drag Race Philippines: Untucked” have been re- newed for a second season.

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