After first launching The Boulet Brothers' Dragula in 2017, Dracmorda Boulet and Swanthula Boulet have been expanding and elevating their reality competition series to new heights. As of 2022, they have unleashed The Boulet Brothers' Dragula: Titans, the franchise's first-ever season of returning contestants.
The cast of Dragula: Titans brings back fan-favorite supermonsters Abhora (season two), Astrud Aurelia (season four), Erika Klash (season two), Evah Destruction (season three), HoSo Terra Toma (season four), Kendra Onixxx (season two, Resurrection), Koco Caine (season four), Melissa Befierce (season one), Victoria Black (season two, Resurrection), and Yovska (season three). The series is also slated to feature guest judges such as Elvira, Harvey Guillen, Alaska, Katya, Poppy, and Justin Simien, among others.
During an exclusive interview with Out, Dracmorda ("Drac") and Swanthula ("Swan") talked about expanding their TV empire alongside Shudder/AMC Networks and the process behind casting and producing the first-ever season of The Boulet Brothers' Dragula: Titans.
The Boulet Brothers' Dragula: Titans is now streaming on Shudder.
Out: One of the things that I love about the overall The Boulet Brothers' Dragula series is the arc that the contestants go through on the show. They always feel very raw and very real. When you're planning out a new season, how do you approach the casting process and the storylines that might come out of these cast members?
Drac: I think when you watch people's casting interviews and you really dig into them, you can sort of see where people are at, right? And I think it's sort of easy to see when you find a drag artist who is sort of on the tipping point. They're sort of coming into their own, and that's the sweet spot, I think, that you want to find people. They're at a point where they want something new or different.
Either they're a new performer that have just discovered, 'Hey, I can do something more than just local shows,' or sometimes you'll find a performer who's been doing this for a long time and they're like, 'I need something different. It's time to snap something in me. I want to elevate and push myself and find out something new about myself.' So I think you can find those sort of elements in certain people's audition videos, and those are the people that we tend to be attracted to.
Swan: Yeah, I would say we don't really wait, either. And what I mean by that is, when casting other shows, producers might think off into the future, 'Oh, let's save these competitors for another time,' or 'Who can we add to just fill in and maybe these will go home first?'
We never cast to go home first. We always cast for power and drama. We want the best representation of the Dragula world, and just sort of the drag world in general. We don't hesitate to put all of our top choices together and make as a combustive concoction as possible.
Yeah, we really feel that watching the series and watching each season. Sometimes it's impossible to tell who's going home early and who's getting to the end. You did Resurrection two years ago, but that wasn't a full season of television. What were the biggest differences in producing a season of all returning contestants like The Boulet Brothers' Dragula: Titans versus producing a regular season of newbies on Dragula?
Drac: The Titans season is special to us because we brought these competitors sort of out of nowhere. These were local drag artists who didn't have a lot of exposure. People didn't really know what they were about, and we saw incredible potential in them. We brought them on the show. You see their story unfold. They get this huge fan base. People become interested in them, and then that's it. You don't see them again, right? So you're like, 'Where did that story go? What happened with them?' or 'Whatever happened between Abhora and Erika?' Or whatever it was that happened on their season.
That's what I think of when I watch reality TV. I'm like, 'God, I really wish I knew what happened to this person or that person,' or 'They were scared of this when they were on the season. Are they now embracing it? Did they overcome that?' And so we felt like now, after having four seasons and the Resurrection special under our belt, is the perfect time for us to bring them back and let people see what happened with these competitors. How they've changed, how their art has elevated, and how their relationships have changed.
Swan: Yeah, and kind of lean into the idea that Dragula is a crucible. Competing on it really sort of melts you down to your most basic components and then builds you back up. And we've seen this time and time again with competitors that have been on the show, then we sort of release them back into the real world, and a transformation absolutely happens.
They become, I like to say, more powerful and perfect versions of themselves. So it was a joy to invite them back and then pit them against each other again because they had already been on TV at that point. And we just see these new manifestations of familiar characters, but kind of transformed by being on the show.
It's really interesting to me that Dragula is such a show about facing your fears, and we just went through a global lockdown where we were all forced to face huge fears. And it's really interesting to me that Titans is coming out right after we're kind of coming out of this period. I'm fascinated to see the contestants who were scared of this or that during their original seasons, and how they feel now after we've collectively gone through this massive traumatic event.
Drac: Well, look, here's the thing: our society is so fear-based. We are constantly told to be scared. Be scared of bills. Be scared of inflation. Be scared of taxes. Be scared of everything. 'You're going to get sick. Don't eat this. Don't drink out of plastic. Don't leave your house.' It's so fear-based. And all of that is just clickbait designed to not only control society, in my opinion, but also to keep people clicking these articles online. Keep people in the online universe. I'll tell you something: if you put your phone down and your computer down and you were just in a cabin for the last three years, you wouldn't have known that anything happened, you know what I mean? That's the thing.
So I think with our show, we have found that even performers, drag artists in particular, they come up in this same social media atmosphere, in this same society, and they're told, 'You are a local person, you're going to do this. This is how much money you're going to make. Don't think outside of the box.' And they're very limited. And when we bring them onto Dragula, we're like, 'No, you are a supermonster. You are a star. How can we get you to understand that?' And part of that is putting them in these scenarios that frankly, scare the hell out of them, and make them challenge their belief of what's safe and what's not, or what's scary and what's not. Because people are like, 'Oh my God, how did you have them jump out of a plane?' Guess what? Some people jump out of a plane for fun.
This isn't like 'Drag School' where they come to us and we have years to break through them. We have to get them to transform quickly. How do you do that? Put them in these scenarios where they have to challenge their belief systems immediately, and you see the immediate change from that.
I kind of went off on that, but I hope that kind of answers the question.
For The Boulet Brothers' Dragula: Titans, you've created an underworld for this season. I know you can't give too much away, but what can you tell me about the underworld?
Swan: The underworld is a dangerous place filled with traps and surprises. I mean, I think it goes back to what our original inspiration was, which was sort of the world of mythology. And if you think about mythology and you think about magic or monsters and the underworld, I think of beasts sort of locked away and just sort of biding their time. So we wanted to create that type of dangerous, mythical place.
We also sort of inverted the colors. Where Dragula is black and red, now we have this sort of bluish sort of cyan landscape. And yeah, it's sort of filled with surprises. No one can just rest on their laurels. The competitors thought, 'Oh, I know what we're getting into. I've done this before.' And we correct that immediately. Our first episode, we throw them way off their center. They don't know what's coming at them, and that's exactly how we like it.
Drac: Yeah, I would say that the underworld is a living, breathing entity in itself that poses lots of dangers and surprises for the competitors.
Because all of these supermonsters have competed before, I'm sure that it must be even harder to keep them on their toes and subvert their ideas of how to play the game. How did you approach introducing new obstacles for them to feel like they're challenged and can't just walk in and do exactly what they did before?
Drac: That was super important to us because part of the magic of Dragula is that you bring these competitors in who don't know what to expect. And they're constantly on their toes, and they're afraid, and they don't know, 'Oh my God, what are you going to do? What are they going to do with us next?' So when we brought back the Titans, we didn't want them to get here and think, 'Well, I know how to game this. I know how to play this. I know how to play the game.'
So we changed it. I mean, you'll see a lot has changed. We wanted that same energy to keep them on their toes. We devised a formula that I think does just that. And again, you learn it immediately. Like, within the first 10 minutes of watching the premiere episode of Titans, you'll see that they're very much on their toes the whole time. That's why you've seen some of the competitors refer to it as Gagula in the press, because they really did not know, and they were constantly mouths agape.
These returning contestants on Dragula: Titans have been previously exterminated in a regular season. Do you believe that these super monsters are more bloodthirsty than ever now that they've come back from the dead?
Swan: I think it's different for all of them. It's really interesting if you can remove yourself and just take them one at a time and say, 'What has the experience of Dragula on their original season of done to them or done for them?' And then apply it across the board. Because I think some of them, they're so excited and grateful to return, almost like they have a chip on their shoulder where they say, 'Here I have this opportunity again. I may not have been able to show myself to the success that I wanted to. And now I have this and I'm not going to let this slip through my fingers.' Whereas others might be like, 'I know exactly how to play this game. I've done this before, and now I'm just going to bring my deadliest self.'
There are also others who see it as an opportunity to almost liberate themselves... where it's like, 'I didn't show who I was, and now I know more of who I am. So I'm going to use this opportunity to do that.' I think it's different for each of them.
Drac: And I think there was a sense of them realizing, 'I've already been on a season and whatever happened, happened. This is my chance to redefine who I am as an onscreen personality and a drag artist. And if I don't do it now, I may not get another chance. I probably won't.'
How many people go on a show, come back for an all-star thing, and then come back yet again? That's not very traditional. Now, I'm not saying that that belief is true or not, because for me, I feel like when we make stars, I want to do a lot with all of them. So I don't personally agree with that. But I see why they think that. So that made them a little more blood-thirsty than maybe you would think. Certainly, one or two of them.
You've always had high standards for which contestant to crown as the World's Next Drag Supermonster. I assume that these standards are even higher now for The Boulet Brothers' Dragula: Titans. So, what are you expecting from a contestant in order to win Titans?
Drac: I'm going to say something that's probably not expected. I don't expect anything of them. And what I mean is that when they... In the past, people have said, 'Well, do you want this person to carry on your torch?' And I go, 'No, I don't. I'm fine where I am. I'm carrying the torch proudly and I'm never going to let it go.'
So I want to give them the opportunity to feature their stuff and then go off and make their own brand and their own career. I'm like, 'Don't come over here and mess with mine. Go do your own thing.' We don't want to define what we expect of them after they win. I'm like, 'Come on here, show me your best. If you outdo everybody else, you'll win. And then I hope that you do something great with it.' But I think putting expectations on people after they win things like that can be really damaging to them, honestly.
Swan: Well, Drac, I don't know. I hear you, and recognize it, but when Bernardo posed the question, what popped into my mind was the exact opposite. For me, I was like, 'I expect everything. I expect everything from them.'
And what I mean by that is I need them to be fully formed. They need to come from a very pure place of who they are, what they are, the type of work that they produce. And I'm not saying they have to go out and check all these boxes to make me happy. I want them to go out in the world once when they complete this and that person wins, that they feel just fully empowered as, 'I achieved this. I did this. Everybody knows who I am and what I am.' And then they go forward and just sort of blaze that trail fully.
I love both of these answers. And I think they're actually complementary, to be honest. I also wanted to talk about the new deal between the Boulet Brothers and Shudder/AMC Networks. How did this come about and how is it going?
Drac: I think that they presented themselves while we were on Netflix, and we were sort of trying to decide what's the long term goal for the show, right? Like, where do we want to live? Because we made the show ourselves. I mean, this is something that we did not go and pitch and get funded. We didn't wait for that. We just said, 'Let's make the show, and then someone's going to pick it up. We know how amazing it's going to be.' And so that's what we decided to do.
This is the culmination of our careers. We had been doing events and nightlife, and creating horror content, and comic books, and all sorts of things for a long time. And we just decided we want to elevate our legacy into the next step. And that's what Dragula was.
We had a couple international networks. The show ended up on Netflix. And then we noticed Shudder and AMC and sort of what they were up to, and we started having conversations with a lot of different networks around that time. We had to decide, 'Where is our long term home? Where do we think is a right fit for this?' And it wasn't just like, 'Hey, what's the biggest network? That's the perfect place for us.' That wasn't exactly what we were looking for.
We were looking for partners who believed in what we do, who had long term interest, and saw the potential of our overall cinematic universe. And I feel like Shudder really had those thoughts in their brain when we first started talking to them, and it just made them feel like the perfect place for us.
We still haven't gotten season five this year, so we might not get a regular season of Dragula in 2022. Was that a deliberate decision that you made in order to focus on Titans? Can you tease more or less when we can expect season five to come out?
Drac: So we sort of got onto a new path, right? Because in the past, it would take us almost like two years to produce a season. This is sort of our transition into being able to deliver not only one season a year, but multiple projects a year. And you're sort of seeing that now. So you'll see something from us now in October. You're going to see more from us in the spring. And then you'll see probably a full, proper season more towards the fall of next year.
You've now been expanding The Boulet Brothers' Dragula franchise for over five years. When you first started with this series and it was self-funded, and I remember watching Dragula on YouTube for free, did you imagine that you'd get to this place right now? I mean, all of this is incredible!
Swan: To be honest, and I know I speak for both of us, we did, but we thought it would happen sooner, frankly. And that's not from ego, either. We work hard. And everywhere we brought our brand of stuff, whether in the nightlife space or whatever, we really noticed and acknowledged that there's a lot of pockets of queer people and weirdos, we just call them covens, all over the country. So we just felt strongly, 'We put this show out, it's going to explode in sort of an underground way, a cult way.' Which we love. And we just thought it would happen faster.
I think we might've overestimated the TV world and the TV landscape. So we've learned that now, and I feel like we have a little bit of a mastery over it. And we always knew we would be here; it just took the time that it took to get here.
Drac: You've got to imagine, we wouldn't have put all that on the line if we thought it was not going to work.
On October 28th and 29th, you'll be hosting The Boulet Brothers' World Famous Halloween Ball. The guests include Trixie Mattel, Symone, Jamari from Legendary, and the full cast of Dragula Titans, among others. What can fans expect from the 2022 edition of the event?
Drac: I'll tell you one thing that's kind of fun that we haven't announced yet that we're going to be announcing by the end of the week. We did an event in Downtown LA that really transformed the landscape of LA nightlife called Queen Kong. And that went on for four years exactly. And one of the people that was birthed out of Queen Kong was Kornbread "The Snack" Jete, who went on to RuPaul's Drag Race.
Kornbread won our Queen Kong star search talent competition, and then went on to Drag Race shortly after. So she's coming back and she's going to be performing at the ball as well, and a bunch of performers from that Queen Kong party. There are tons of horror celebrities that are confirmed for the event. It's an amazing party, honestly. As far as what people can expect, they can expect that come to an event unlike they've probably ever been to.
It's kind of a three-level giant haunted theater mixed with almost like a haunted house, like a haunt attraction and a couple of dance floors, and there's all sorts of little stations with games and pumpkin carving, all kinds of things, and really hot dancers. It's just a ton of fun.
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