The showman of the talk show, “Chai” Drago Draganov – “I would change television and singing with the circus.”
Drago Draganov is the showman of one of the most popular talk shows on Bulgarian National Television, “Chai”1. We meet in his ‘office’ on the 11th floor of the building in 29, San Stefano St. This is the place where between two Sundays the idea of the ‘different message to the viewers is conceived. The atmosphere is very … cocktail-like – a reasonable dose of creative chaos (to-do notes, greeting cards, invitations for high-life events), flirting with childhood (plushy toys, pretty souvenirs), and a professional role model – a beautiful photograph of the unforgettable Brigitta Cholakova on the wall. There is also a circus poster – maybe a hint that life is just an arena.
“The circus has been my real passion since childhood. I always find calmness in it when I need it. The rest of the time, as the Bulgarian joke goes, I am trying to spin and reel at the same time. I have been on the talk show for five years. Together with the whole team, every Sunday, I try to make it interesting for the viewers. Along with that, I travel round the country. I take part in concerts and shows as a singer and entertainer. I’m promoting my new solo album “If you are an angel”, and I am happy that my fans’ interest is growing.
Which part do you like best – that of a singer or a showman?
Sometimes, I am the former, sometimes I prefer the latter. In any case, though, I take my music occupation seriously. Not only because it turns out an additional income source. Actually, I see it as a realization in a particular sphere which definitely provokes my creativity. My confidence comes from the success that my performances enjoy. When it comes to stage performances, I stick to the so-called Lilly Ivanova’s formula. I try to follow her advice because, for me, her advice is that of the most experienced professional in the show business in this country. You will understand this if you just look at how her career has developed over time; then you have to make up the success formula for yourself – self-strictness, strive for perfection in any aspect, and work without compromising in the name of the viewers.
How do you manage to control the energy and dynamism of these public transformations?
The reason for everything that happens to me is my emotional personality. This is something I cannot run away from and something I am not worried to show. I cannot help reacting spontaneously, as my heart tells me.
Is this the reason why you are so much ‘courted’ by the media?
I would not say ‘courted’ because I do not play by the rules of their game. I do not get familiar with the media and I never get involved in the intrigues which some of my ‘colleagues’ like to plot. I do not like serving those gossiping among them. Generally I entirely ignore the high life because, to me, it is ridiculous that people who thrust their presence everywhere in the public sphere think of them selves as the elite of the society. These are empty soap bubbles, which sooner or later will disappear and will only leave the useless noise of a blown-up balloon. The truth always comes out. Over all those years in television I have seen many births and deaths of ‘stars’. So I like to stand with both my feet on the ground, to keep a small circle of friends who do not get too big for their success and do not think only and entirely about how to multiply their money and power. I believe the interest in me is due to the fact that I just do not stop developing; neither do I stop challenging myself. Otherwise I would have long been forgotten and would have seen them turn their backs on me. I really ignore the vanity and hypocrisy of the pseudo-VIPs.
Where do you think the really valuable things in our life have left?
Surely, the culture is one of the most significant things in Bulgaria. There are achievements that have long outdone the European level, which we, so to say, strive for. When we talk of art, classical music, literature we can only be proud that we are creators whose works are really a part of the highest achievements of the world culture. I would not like to sound pompously because I do not see myself as a media guru or someone who likes judging. Yet, I think that Bulgarian culture at present is torn between the heritage of the socialist past and the new influence of the American culture. It must be because the American culture is digested easily by the majority of the public with low intelligence. I am afraid that the culture will not be preserved because, regretfully, its bearers, its zealous keepers survive with more and difficulty the present economic situation. Stupidity ensures an easier life. And maybe such people are who most aggressively will search for their place on the European market and will create a more different image of Bulgaria form what the country deserves.
The intelligent person is in the right place. The successful Bulgarians will stay here. The unsuccessful, the outsiders, will go abroad, for whom there are no borders. However, they are not the bearers of the real achievements of the Bulgarian culture. I hope that Europe will show interest in our talents and bright minds, and not in those Bulgarians who will earn their living labouring outside their country.
Yet, you still often meet these very people when you are on tour abroad. What do they think of you?They are goodwilled, friendly; they see me like any other popular person from our country who they meet. They are curious how I have managed to make my dreams come true in Bulgaria, where they have not succeeded.
Are they successful abroad?
I doubt it. I know people who ear good money labouring, which they would never do for the same money in Bulgaria. There is a lot of prejudice in Bulgaria which they have to fight. The popular opinion is almost that of despise of the navvies. So, we have to walk a difficult way as personalities to the preservation of our uniqueness and national identity. Thanks God in Bulagria there are many people who have no intention of leaving the country without a reason to look for something, anything, far from it. We are part of Europe not only because we are on its map, but because, even centuries ago we were, and still are citizens of the world; people of flesh and blood with their advantages and disadvantages, with dreams which have the right to come true.
What is the price of the dream that comes true, the price of being yourself?
I will probably find out one day, when I stop being what I am now. I would definitely, some day, quit the television and the singing. Then, perhaps, I will find out if it is easy to be myself, or it is just easy to say so when you can afford it. When this happens, t am going to get into the circus business, because it has lost its positions as an art in Bulgaria. However, I believe it can be and should be revived.