John Mac Lane Coronel, known for his drag queen persona Taylor Sheesh, is rising in popularity in the Philippines for impersonating Taylor Swift.
About Taylor Sheesh: Coronel, a 28-year-old Filipino call center agent, first became fascinated with Swift in 2009 after he heard her song “Fifteen.”
He then started impersonating the artist in 2017, adopting the drag name “Taylor” from Swift’s name and the slang term “sheesh.”
This year, Sheesh has notably been making several mall performances around the Philippines, such as in cities like Quezon, Cebu and Taguig, to mimic Swift’s ongoing Eras Tour. In May, videos of Sheesh’s performances, which have reportedly drawn crowds of up to 10,000 people, went viral, attracting attention from international news outlets.
Rise in fame: When Coronel attended a Taylor Swift fan drag event as Sheesh in October last year, an organizer reportedly asked the drag queen to perform. Sheesh sang Swift’s 11-minute, 40-second medley from the 2019 American Music Awards. Since then, she has performed at multiple fan events, copying Swift’s concert outfits and lip-syncing to her songs.
“I’m always learning how to act like Taylor, how to move like Taylor, how to smile like Taylor, and overall, how to approach performing like Taylor, like Taylor’s Version. My favorite is when she hits the high note and leans back,” Coronel told Mashable.
Taylor Swift in the Philippines: Swift, who has been one of the most-streamed artists for years in the Philippines, was the nation’s No. 1 artist overall on Spotify last year.
Despite this, the Philippines was not able to bring Swift in this year due to the country’s lack of concert infrastructure and money to afford her shows, according to Peter Delantar, president of Insignia Presents, a concert promoter and events company.
“Not only can artists’ fees be a huge expense, but the Philippines’ only conveniently located stadiums can also only hold about 12,000 people,” Delantar told NPR. “I feel like there’s a lot more artists now that are able to sell 10,000-plus tickets. Infrastructure-wise, we haven’t been able to catch up.”
Uplifting the Filipino Swifties: This year, Coronel took it upon himself to uplift the spirits of Filipino Swifties, who are disappointed that Swift did not include their country to the Asian leg of The Eras Tour.
Coronel’s performances as Sheesh have become an alternative experience for Filipino Swifties. Praised for her accuracy and stage presence, the drag queen has already performed at notable venues, including the Brooklyn Warehouse in Manila and The Outlets in Lipa, Batangas. She hopes that by holding her concerts around the Philippines, the real Taylor will notice the “Taylor Nation Country.”