Interview by Miyanne Maassen van den Brink

In Kamp Van Koningsbrugge Special Edition, Jeroen van Koningsbrugge has found ten well-known civilians who dare the tough training of the commandos and are willing to take on the challenge of a lifetime. Presenter and journalist Natasja Gibbs, YouTuber and presenter Iris Enthoven, speaker and Children of Ruinerwold’s Edino van Dorsten, actor Tarikh Janssen, former Orange Lioness and Ajax women’s manager Daphne Koster, singer Ruben Annink, presenter and reporter Celine Huijsmans, actor Niels Gomperts, Chef’Special drummer Wouter Prudon and former Drag Race Holland finalist Boris Schreurs, better known as My Little Puny, undergo this fierce ordeal.

The well-known civilians are subjected to the extreme training under the expert guidance of the now well-known commando duo Ray and Dai. The trainees are severely challenged both physically and mentally by a Special Forces unit. They face the same tough challenge as ordinary civilians in this edition; there is no special treatment. Jeroen provides mental support during the training.

Boris Schreurs, better known as My Little Puny, runner-up of Drag Race Holland S2 is among one of the military trainees. Numéro Netherlands had the pleasure to interview Boris and talk about the program. Including some amazing pictures taken by Rob Jacobs, Puny art outfit by Kill them with your colorGreen dress by Berend Brus.

First, why the name My Little Puny?

Puny is short for ‘punani’. If you don’t know what that means ”Google it” (laughs). Years ago I had a Surinamese boyfriend so I learned a lot of Surinamese words, and one of them was ‘puny’. The word became a running gag amongst my friends and I always answered the phone by saying: ‘hey puni’ or ‘hey punani.’ It was nothing more than a joke, but when I had to create a drag name for myself that word came back up. Then I thought it would be funny to do a play on words and instead of My Little Pony, I came up with My Little Puny. I also thought it’ll be a name that sticks. 

Was Drag Race Holland the first time you took part in a TV program and can you tell us a bit about your experience?

In 2008, way before Drag Race Holland, I participated in a television show called ‘So you think you can dance’. It was a professional dance program, where after an intense audition, 17 dancers and I got selected for the live shows where each week we performed a different dance style in front of the judges. Actually, I only started drag in 2019, so everything happened really fast and when I joined Drag Race Holland I had been doing Drag for only 2/3 years. My experience with Drag Race Holland was really great. What I like so much about Drag is that you have complete control over your artistic expression and you can really follow your own creative process from the concept till the final creation. I thought it was super cool to receive runway themes at Drag Race Holland and then completely throw my own vision over them and show the judges what I can do. And of course my background in dance and theatre played a big role and it was a great inspiration. 

A program like Kamp van Koningsbrugge is of course totally different, did you have certain expectations before you joined?

I had seen the previous two seasons, but I thought: ‘Ok, this is a world really far away from my own’. So, I knew more or less what I was getting myself into, but I didn’t know how I would react becoming part of something so different from who I normally am. But that’s exactly why I was so interested.  If I find something very scary, I want to face that fear and see where that will bring me. I would say that I didn’t have expectations before I joined the show, but I did think that I would end up in a men’s world where I probably wouldn’t feel at home at all, but that wasn’t the case. They were all extremely kind, respectful, and there was no stereotypical macho behaviour. What they mainly looked at is if you have the skills to become a commando, if you can handle both the physical and mental training. I surely learned a lot during this whole experience.

Are you already a very athletic person yourself and what was the reason for you to choose to take part in Kamp van Koningsbrugge?

I had to go through a physical examination to test my strength and a medical test to see if there was any health issue to take in consideration before joining the show. I do a lot of sport myself and I try to keep my body fit. For my performances, I have to stay fit because they require stamina, but I wanted to see if I had in me what it takes to become a commando, and I felt ready to push my limits and face any challenge they were gonna throw at me. That’s why I joined the program.

Instead of walking on the runway in Drag, you walked around the woods here in a camouflage suit, what was that like, for you to be in the spotlight this way now?

You obviously see a complete different side of me in Kamp van Koningsbrugge. Drag Race is a different type of show, full of glitters and glamour and it has a totally different vibe than Kamp van Koningsbrugge which is raw, tough, but it makes you also very vulnerable, which is not necessarily a side I have shown on Drag Race Holland. You are vulnerable there too, but it stays a bit more on the surface. At Drag Race, you more or less know what your strong and weak points are as a drag queen, but at Kamp van Koningsbrugge you just don’ t know what to expect at all. You don’t know when a mission ends or what the mission is going to be, and they make every mission seem like there is no end in sight. You are constantly confronted with yourself. You just can’t compare the two programs. That was also one of the reasons why I wanted to join the show, I was very curious about how far I would make it and whether I would be able to cope with the mental and physical pain. There is a lot that’s not broadcasted because they have to put 24 hours of a day into one hour episode. For instance, what you didn’t see in the program is that on day two, I was constantly hallucinating because of the lack of sleep, and at night, while I had to keep watch alone, I started seeing all sorts of things that weren’t there. For instance, I thought I saw people waving, but they turned out to be trees. I simply couldn’t focus, it felt like I was awake and dreaming at the same time. And that does something to you mentally, when you have to perform hard challenges while being in a very confused state of mind. 

It is obviously a very intensive program, what was the biggest challenge for you during filming?

For me it was the last day, which is also when the journey ended for me. I couldn’t focus anymore and I couldn’t find the strength to focus on the missions instead of the pain I was experiencing because of my severe knee injury. I was constantly in pain and most challenges required never ending walks or runs in the Ardennes, so I had to go up and down hills for hours which really hurt my knee a lot. That made it increasingly difficult to focus on the assignment, I was in so much pain, and that combined with the hallucinations was just too much to take. I was done.

You had to leave the program, how did that eventually come about?

I had a conversation on the last day with Ray and Dai, the two instructors of the program. They told me a story about an ex colleague of theirs who was shot during a mission and without knowing if he would survive, he still kept leading the mission until the entire team was brought to safety. But of course I am not a trained commando and I just couldn’t take the pain anymore, it really stopped there for me. I was taken out because I couldn’t complete the last task properly. We were with five at that point and in the end, three people went through to the final mission.

Did you notice that you went through a change physically and/or mentally, if so in what way?

When I went in, I don’t think that I was physically prepared enough, so I wished that I had prepared and trained more than I did. I wasn’t really at my best when I started, so I didn’t necessarily go through a change physically. But mentally, I really did grow immensely during the show. Now I have that mentality that when things get hard I can say to myself: ‘Ok get up, keep going, flip that switch and just do it.’ I really learned that you can always find something in yourself to persevere. I had a lot of moments like that during the show and this is a lesson that I will take forever with me.

If you get another chance to participate, would you do it again?

I think so yes, I would prepare myself better for certain things. For example, I would work on my navigation skills because I know I am pretty bad at it. I can’t even find my way around Amsterdam (laughs) and when I found myself in the woods, on my own, with only a map and a compass, it was a disaster. I would also train more physically. I had prepared myself a bit, but I didn’t know I was going to participate until shortly before the show started. No matter what, I look back very positively at this adventure. Onto the next!

Photographer: Rob Jacobs