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Dana International shows & tells nearly all in docu-reality TV

The groundbreaking transgender singer reveals her personal life in ‘Viva La Diva,’ a new series from Yes Studios

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Israeli diva Dana International launches docu-reality show about her life, 'Viva la Diva,' from Yes Studios, starting March 2023 (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
Israeli diva Dana International launches docu-reality show about her life, 'Viva la Diva,' from Yes Studios, starting March 2023 (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Israel’s diva Dana International greeted reporters from the comfort of a makeshift throne, a velvet armchair upholstered with pink flamingos.

Her long legs, encased in thigh-high boots and a black jacquard-belted jumpsuit, were draped over the arm of the chair, pink lacquered nails folded lightly over her midriff.

The occasion for the audience was the singer’s latest adventure, “Viva la Diva,” (“Dana Kama” in Hebrew), a docu-reality show produced by Yes Studios and Sting TV that arrives on small screens in March, showing the behind-the-scenes reality of Dana’s life.

The idea for the 15-episode show came from Yes Studios, said Dana, and she only accepted the offer after two years of the pandemic.

“I felt very bored, so I finally said yes,” said Dana, who was assigned male at birth but identified as female from a young age and came out as transgender at 13.

She says she regretted it at first. The filming was intensive, with three to four days a week of shooting, and there were constant fights with her manager and production staff about what to reveal on the show.

The show was produced by Teddy Productions, editor Yonatan (Jonny) Koniak and director Ilan Abudi, who had all dreamed for years of filming the singer who won the 1999 Eurovision song contest for Israel with “Diva,” and her longtime manager, Shai Kerem.

“It’s not like anything else,” said Abudi, a veteran in the docu-reality space. “The surprise I felt when I got to know the real Dana changed my mind about the series, because of the gap between the image and who Dana is in real life.”

There is footage of Dana with her mother and brothers, at family meals, on dates, during meetings, in her dressing room, and without makeup.

“I don’t like long shoots and their demands were very difficult for me,” she said. Most importantly, added Dana, she does not offer any explicit messages about gender or sexuality.

“Live your life, live and let live — that’s what I want from people,” she said. “I want to educate people to love others and accept them for who they are, not to judge.”

Israeli diva Dana International is launching docu-reality series ‘Viva la Diva’ with Yes Studios in March 2023 (Courtesy Pini Siluk)

Right now, she’s worried about Israel and the state of the nation.

“I hope the world will save us,” she said. “I hope Joe Biden, who has the power, will take Bibi [Netanyahu] and shake him up and tell him. I’m worried; we’re two halves in Israel, we are not united. And people are trying to just glue it together, it’s the problem of many countries in the world. I’m afraid that right now the extremists in the government are going to take the last stab at our democracy and that makes me afraid.”

As for the show, Dana, whose given name is Sharon Cohen, said she wanted to quit after the first episode but was convinced to keep at it.

But she doesn’t plan on watching it once the first episodes drop in March, she said.

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