Today in International Drag Day—a good time to remember that while RuPaul’s Drag Race is a global sensation, other countries and cultures have their own drag superstars. Just look at international Drag Race stars like Bebe Zahara Benet and Courtney Act—not to mention all the girls from Puerto Rico!
Below, we celebrate 10 queens from around the world who are taking the art of drag in dynamic directions.
Panti Bliss, Ireland
Bliss blew away the Internet in 2014 with an impassioned speech against homophobia, delivered a month after Irish TV network RTE paid out $118,000 to journalists who complained about being labeled “homophobic” on a nighttime talk show.
Her oration was called “the most eloquent Irish speech” in almost 200 years by drama critic Fintan O’Toole and she was praised by RuPaul, Madonna, Alan Cumming and Dan Savage, among others.
Shortly thereafter, “I’m on Team Panti” T-shirts raised nearly $17,000 for LGBT youth services.
Uriel Yekutiel, Israel
Yekutiel’s gender-blurring eccentric caricature (he eschews the “drag queen” label) has landed him in nightclubs throughout Europe and South America, Pride parades around the world, and even on an Israeli sitcom. He’s also earned a following for his work with Israeli electro-pop group the Young Professionals.
Holly White, France
This French queen doesn’t just beat a mean face, she DJs all over the continent and has delivered sickening remixes of Britney Spears, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Ciara and more.
An in-demand makeup artist, Holly is as gorgeous out of drag as in.
Verka Serduchka, Ukraine
Quite the chanteuse, Serduchka has sold more than 600,000 records in Ukraine and represented the country in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007. (She came in second.)
Beauty Ramapelepele, South Africa
South African Satirist Ben Voss doesn’t wear blackface to portray Beauty, a loudmouth 50-year-old black woman, but the scheming social climber has still generated controversy.
“The race debate is a big one in South Africa still,” Voss told The Guardian, “and we talk about it more candidly than the rest of the world does.”
Jodie Harsh, England
This British queen named herself after topless model/UK reality star Jodie Marsh, and helped reinvigorate the London club scene in the 2000s with parties like Foreign and Circus. “I don’t want to be a girl and I am not particularly feminine, I don’t wear false boobs and I rarely wear skirts or dresses.” Harsh told The Independent of her aesthetic.
“I would say that I’m a boy with loads of feminine qualities. My hair, my lips, my makeup, my shoes—everything is big, much bigger than a girl.”
Akihiro Miwa, Japan
This 82-year-old singer, actor, director, writer and composer first came to prominence in 1957, with the obscenity-laden hit “Me Que Me Que.” She hows little sign of slowing down, though, continuing her popular cabaret act and doing voice work in Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and 2009’s Pokémon: Arceus: To a Conquering Space-Time.
“Miwa has carried on being a true monster, whereas many amazingly talented freaks have gone back to looking and behaving normally after enjoying a brief boom in popularity,” said dramatist Hideki Noda.
Bassem Feghali, Lebanon
While Lebanon isn’t incredibly receptive to the LGBT community, Feghali has garnered acclaim for his impressions of numerous Arab and international celebrities, actresses and singers (whom he impersonates without lip synching).
One year during Ramadan, Bassem had a daily show on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation in which he impersonated a different artist every day for a full month.
Conchita Wurst, AustriaAlexandr Gusev/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Since winning the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Rise Like A Phoenix,” Wurst has appeared at London Pride and other LGBT celebrations, walked the runway for Jean-Paul Gaultier, and released a memoir, Being Conchita.
She’s also performed at the European Parliament in Brussels, the United Nations office in Vienna and the Sydney Opera House.
Dame Edna Everage, AustraliaTerry O'Neill/Getty Images
A grand dame of drag, Dame Edna was dreamed up by Barry Humphries (a heterosexual!) in 1955 and has done it all—film, television, books, Broadway, even performing for the Queen of England. Humphries, 85, has mostly retired the character but Dame Edna appeared on the BBC’s Big Christmas Show in 2015 and had a cameo in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie the following year.