Philippine ‘Swifties’ flock to Taylor Sheesh show

Wearing a long blonde wig and gold-sequined and tasseled dress, Sheesh shimmered across the floor as she imitated Swift's dance moves.

Allison Jackson

Allison Jackson

The Jakarta Post


Taylor Sheesh, a Philippine drag queen impersonating Taylor Swift, performs in a fan event in Manila on July 7, 2023.(AFP/Jam Sta Rosa)

July 10, 2023

JAKARTA – Thousands of diehard Taylor Swift fans erupted in screams Friday as a Philippine drag queen impersonating the American music megastar strutted on stage in a Manila shopping center.

For many Filipino “Swifties”, as Taylor Swift’s fans are called, this is the closest they will get to the singer’s “The Eras Tour” after the Philippines was left off the Asian leg next year.

As fans across the region scrambled Friday to get their hands on tickets for her six shows in Singapore, one of only two stops in Asia, Filipino Swifties flocked to a mall to see the next best thing: Taylor Sheesh.

Wearing a long blonde wig and gold-sequined and tasseled dress, Sheesh shimmered across the floor as she imitated Swift’s dance moves and lip-synced songs from her 2010 Speak Now album.

Mostly young fans sang along to the lyrics they first heard as children, bouncing up and down while filming with their smartphones.

“I love her writing and her songs,” gushed Daphne Ayuste, 21, after posing with her boyfriend in front of a cardboard cut-out of Swift.

Fans began lining up in the tropical heat more than four hours before Friday’s concert celebrating the release of Swift’s re-recorded Speak Now album.

Many wore cat-ear headbands featuring Swift’s face and the color purple to match her dress on the album cover.

One fan carried a framed picture depicting Swift as the Virgin Mary.

Sheesh, whose real name is Mac Coronel, began impersonating Swift in 2017.

The 28-year-old has seen her popularity explode in the Philippines after footage of her performing her own version of The Eras Tour in May went viral.

“She’s so very popular here,” Coronel told AFP backstage, describing the Philippines as “Taylor nation”.

“We all know that [for] every situation […] there’s always a Taylor Swift song,” she said.

‘Always a Swiftie’

In Singapore on Friday, hundreds of Taylor Swift fans lined up at post offices across the city-state hours before tickets went on sale to the public.

Many of the fans, most of them young people, had queued overnight for prime spots, bringing food, mats and foldable chairs.

With 338,000 seats up for grabs in Singapore, many Swifties across the region have been left disappointed and pleading on social media for more Asian countries to be included in the tour.

Thailand’s Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat, who is seeking endorsement from parliament next week to become the next PM, took to social media to proclaim he was a Swiftie and urged the singer to stage a Bangkok concert.

“Hey Taylor! Big fan of yours. Btw, Thailand is back on track to be fully democratic after you had to cancel last time due to the coup. The Thai people have spoken via the election and we all look forward to welcoming you to this beautiful nation of ours! Do come and I’ll be singing Lavender Haze with you!” he tweeted on Thursday in a message that went viral.

Filipino Swifties have flooded Facebook with crying emojis and requests for the pop star to perform in the Philippines.

“There’s no way that this tour is happening without Filo Swifties! #wewanterastourinthephilippines,” Mond Santiago wrote.

Some fans are already planning to fly to one of her concerts overseas, including Sheesh, who secured a ticket to one of the Singapore shows with the help of her cousin.

“I’m gonna die,” said Sheesh, a call-center worker, when asked how she will feel when she sees Swift perform live.

Sheesh hopes to take her show to more shopping malls across the country, but has no illusions of being more popular than her idol.

“I don’t want to be compared to Taylor Swift,” said Sheesh.

“Forever and always, I’ll be a Swiftie.”

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