Sheesh vs. Swift

A Filipino drag queen takes the world by storm by imitating Taylor Swift.
Sheesh vs. Swift

Taylor Swift is currently on her Eras Tour which will not stop in the Philippines; Taylor Sheesh has filled the void for Filipino Swifties. Swift has a few popular albums and a handful of well known songs. Her fame, however, is undoubtedly and inarguably eclipsed by a drag queen from the Philippines named Taylor Sheesh. Swift may be somewhat embarrassed to acknowledge that Sheesh is so much more famous than her because Sheesh lip syncs Swift’s songs wearing outfits inspired from her tour. 

     Taylor Sheesh’s illustrious career started in a mall in a Quezon City mall in the Philippines. But John Mac Lane Coronel’s life began long before he donned his now famous wig. Born on November 1st, 1994, Coronel comes from humble beginnings. He has been a fan of Swift since 2009 when he was just 15 years old. However, Taylor Swift was not his first drag impersonation. According to an interview by PhilStar news on YouTube, Coronel’s first persona was an imitation of American pop star Lady Gaga. Gaga has declined to comment on her opinion of Sheesh.

     Coronel started impersonating Swift in 2017. Sheesh is an elusive celebrity as few interviews with her are available on the internet. One of two the Talon had access to was entirely in Filipino, which is a language none of the staff members speak. Most of the translation had to be derived from a mix of context clues from the graphics shown on screen, a handful of English cognates, and a (hopefully reliable) Wikipedia biography. While trying to interpret the conversation with Sheesh using Google Translate, the phrase “iringiring because when it was cut by the stage so as not to know if the concepts or theories of we need to travel to Singapore filipino to learn to celebrate service week fasting manual PDF” was output. I doubt this was Sheesh’s intended meaning. If any reader speaks Filipino please reach out to me. 

     Meanwhile, Taylor Alison Swift was born in 1989 in Pennsylvania. Swift started taking vocal lessons at age 9 in New York City before deciding to become a country artist. A computer repairman gave Swift a guitar with which she wrote her very first song. Swift began recording music thanks to connections with a family friend who was an entertainment manager. Her family moved to Hendersonville, Tennessee, in order to continue her music career. Swift is undoubtedly talented. She became the youngest publisher ever signed to the Sony/ATV label and was a founding member of the Big Machine record label. She released her first single “Tim McGraw” under Big Machine, and the rest is history. Since then, Swift has released 10 distinct studio albums and 3 re-recorded albums (with a 4th coming later this year). Swift has also had 6 concert tours (including the Eras Tour). 

     It goes without saying that Taylor Swift is a global phenomenon, and not just because her tour has an international leg. As of September 2023, she is the #2 artist in the world on Spotify. Every one of her songs has tens of millions of streams with many reaching into the hundreds of millions or billions of listens. Tickets for the Eras Tour were so desired that the demand by Swifties, fans of Swift, crashed the website of entertainment monopoly TicketMaster. If you weren’t lucky enough to be in line for pre-sale, tickets would go for thousands of dollars on resale websites, making the tour nearly impossible to see if you didn’t have an exorbitant amount of spending money. Once you got to the concert there would be fans streaming it on TikTok, proposing to their significant other in the crowd, bracelet trading, and crying. According to Northeastern and Bloomberg, each show grossed 13 million dollars, making it one of the biggest tours ever. 

     Sheesh played the Outlets at Lipa in, what I presume to be, her first outdoor concert in mid-August. The crowd for this event was huge. Sheesh’s concerts feature Swift’s mannerisms, outfit changes, and, in some cases, set piece replicas. Taylor Lautner came to one of Swift’s Era’s concerts, so Sheesh once brought out Taylor Laughter. One of my favorite videos of Sheesh performing is this TikTok ( featuring her rendition of “You Belong With Me” from “Fearless”. An entire mall of people who cannot see Swift live came together anyways to celebrate how much they love her music. 

     Swift’s international concert dates feature mostly European countries (France, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Poland, and Austria) with a handful of South American destinations (Argentina and Brazil) and a stop in Australia. There are only two concert dates in Asia (Japan and Singapore) and none in Africa. Clearly, there is significant demand for Swift everywhere around the world. So why is she not stopping in the Philippines or in any other country like it? According to Sheesh, it’s because the infrastructure needed is just not in place. In an interview with Vulture, Sheesh says, “there’s no stadium that can cater her here, so that’s why we have to go to Japan or Singapore… [however] some fans don’t have the funds to get a plane ticket and accommodations”. Swift came to the Philippines once before for the Red tour but hasn’t returned since then. The concert is hugely inaccessibly already for people that live in the U.S, but for some not only will they have to pay exorbitant ticket prices, they’ll have to buy international airfare and accommodations in cities with already steep hotel prices that are sure to be driven up more by Swift’s presence. There’s not really anything that Taylor can do about this, though. If there isn’t a stadium for her stadium tour she can’t really be expected to build one. 

     Taylor Sheesh is going to see Taylor Swift in concert in Singapore and in the meantime she’ll continue to give free concerts to Filipino Swifties that can’t see Sheesh’s namesake. When I asked my friend Maris (the biggest Swiftie I know) what her experience with Sheesh was, she said a video of Sheesh made her weep. 

“When I saw a TikTok of Taylor Sheesh over the trailer for the Eras Tour movie, I cried tears of joy and pride” – Maris Jones, 12

     When Sheesh was asked what she would say to Taylor if she ever got the chance to meet her, Coronel responded:

“The Philippines exists! The last song of the Red tour was “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and I guess she didn’t come back here. [Laughs] I would say that Filipino Swifties love her and we thank her not just for her songs but for helping us survive every day. We believe that for every situation, there is a Taylor Swift song. It’s more than just relationships”. – John Mac Lane Coronel / Taylor Sheesh




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