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Canada’s Drag Race S1:E2 (Her-Itage Moments)

After this season’s hilariously chaotic kickoff, episode 2 of Canada’s Drag Race came off a little calmer. Even so, it was far from devoid of excitement. Right from the get-go, the girls had us laughing at the level of raunch and language this iteration of the show has been allowed, with Lemon sighing “It’s just sad but… fuck off bitch, let’s go” as she wiped away Juice Boxx’s post elimination mirror message.

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The next morning, the queens were back in the werkroom for a very apt mini-challenge. Rather than Canadiana, this challenge switched gears to a dance theme with judge Brooke Lynn Hytes at the helm (don’t worry, there were still plenty of puns). Brooke asked the queens to imagine they’re auditioning for the principal role in a new drag ballet called “The Nutsmacker”, loosely based on the story of Cinderella. Instead of turning from a princess to a pauper at the stroke of midnight, however, the queens must go “from ballerinas to bad bitches” on the change in music. A 20-minute “quick drag” session gave us an impressive array of leotards, crumpled pink tutus, and shake-n-go wigs.

Anastarzia Anaquway started, decked out in dark feathers like she’d walked off the set of Black Swan. Beginning balletic, she swapped to what she described as “beating some bitches”, miming a jab to each competing queen’s nose. Lemon followed wearing a swan dress a la Björk. She simplified her actual ballet training down to that of a beginner before breaking out the spinning jump split that won her last week’s lip sync. With nothing on her face but thin liner and purple lipstick, Tynomi Banks (in a wig that would definitely like to speak to your manager) brought ballet theatrics, emoting with her limbs and face.

Rita Baga pirouetted in looking a bit like the wacky teacher of the class in a red leotard and thick glasses. She pretended to hit the bell notes as “Waltz of The Sugarplum Fairy” played. Then Ilona Verley danced out in pink marabou feathers and treated us to a spin before showing off their karate moves, a choice that both confused and thrilled their cohorts. On Jimbo‘s turn, she looked and danced a bit like an oversized Maddie Ziegler in a Sia music video.

Boa, meanwhile, was the spitting image of a dorky little kid in her first ballet recital. She pranced and flailed while telling a story about walking in on Mommy and Daddy “wrestling”. She topped the performance off with a combination cartwheel-fall and the worm. Kiara, looking ready for barre practice, elicited whoops with a neat dip. Scarlett Bobo took inspiration from that and dipped too, rolling into a floor-swiping booty bounce that scooted her clear across the room.

Next up was Kyne, who dropped it like it’s hot and bounced around with her tutu hiked to her waist. Priyanka wrapped the “auditions” off in a geometric bodysuit, treating us to a twerk show and then miming a happy ending (yes, that kind) down on her knees. In the end, Boa and Starzy took the win, each receiving a $1000 gift certificate to Wigs & Grace for their efforts.

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Mini-challenge handled, it was time for the main task of the week… and more niche Canadian references. This week’s maxi-challenge, entitled “Her-itage Moments”, was based on the short TV segments called Heritage Minutes that used to air between commercials in Canada in the 1990s. These were 60 second long films that recreated notable moments in Canadian history as a public teaching tool.

The queens split into teams to parody two series classics, but with a drag twist. Boa and Starzy were each awarded the title of team captain and took turns choosing their members. Boa chose Priyanka, Kyne, Scarlett, and Jimbo, while Starzy selected Tynomi, Rita, Kiara, and Lemon. Ilona, who was left to last, was allowed to choose their team and picked Team Boa.

Team Boa received a script called “The Muffragettes”, a word play on the suffragettes of the early 1900s. In this version, it was drag queens fighting for the right to vote. The judge preventing them was also revealed to be a drag queen and, after various amusing mishaps, the vote was granted. While we didn’t really see how the roles here were divided, the judge’s part was wisely handed to Jimbo. Ilona and Scarlett played lesbian twin musician duo Vegan and Tara (named for Canadian musicians Tegan and Sara) who sing everything in unison. Priyanka became the flighty comedy relief, while Boa and Kyne took roles with more angst.

A few concerns arose for the group immediately. While Jimbo expressed difficulty deciphering the words Scarlett and Ilona were singsonging, Boa admitted that her ADHD makes it very difficult to memorize things (including the correct pronunciation of Ilona’s name). Brooke appeared at their side to offer advice (and dig just a little, of course). She inquired about the tension between Boa and Ilona, asked after Ilona’s feelings about being picked last, and praised them when they said “It hurt in the moment but we’ve moved on”.

Brooke turned her attention to Kyne, asking if she heard how well Ilona handled that situation. Kyne spoke to last week’s behaviour, calling it a “tantrum” spurred by nerves. The exchange was going quite well… until Kyne told Brooke she “forgives her”. Brooke, ever the composed pageant queen, kept her feelings tempered, but Scarlett and Priyanka’s shocked reactions communicated for everyone. Even so, Brooke and Kyne set tension aside with tact and the group spoke about bringing their skit to life.

Across the werkroom, Starzy let her team pick whichever roles they felt most comfortable with. Their script, entitled “I Smell Burnt Tuck”, was a parody of Montreal-based neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield who, in the 1930s, mapped the brain to treat seizures by isolating which section triggers the smell of burnt toast. In this version, Dr. Wilma Hennyfield cures drag related conditions like “contourrhea”, “tonguepopitis”, and “the shablams”.

Lemon decided to play “a prim and proper little bitch“, Starzy cast herself as the doctor, and Kiara, feeling confident in her acting skills thanks to high school improv, became a famous performer whose skills are hampered by drag illness. Rita was well-suited for comedic relief as a nurse while Tynomi, who struggled with lines immediately, became Lemon’s scene partner. Rather than letting Tynomi flounder, Starzy told her “We’re gonna get you there”. The team sprang into action coaching her as Brooke approached.

Lemon committed to applying herself better after last week’s stumble and Tynomi told Brooke about the team “helping with character development”. They discussed her nerves from the previous week making her look like “a deer in the headlights” on the runway and Tynomi resolved to make her personality shine more this week.

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Before taking her leave, Brooke let the queens know about this week’s guest host, Lebanese-Canadian actor Jade Hassoune of the show Shadow Hunters. The queens were then taken in teams to film their skits with the assistance of judge and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman.

Team Boa was up first. Boa herself struggled with confidence and memorizing lines, breaking character and getting frustrated with herself at each mistake. Priyanka, who excelled, did her best to support in-scene, but it was Jeffrey’s encouragement (he highlighted what she was doing right so she could focus on the rest) that got her delivering. Jimbo nailed her lines, Jeffrey gave Scarlett and Ilona the same feedback about enunciation that Jimbo had previously, and Kyne worked with him to improve her physical comedy and slap timing.

Team Starzy filed in second and things went mostly well. Jeffrey praised Kiara for her character and she nailed her solo scene in one take. Tynomi, however, stumbled lines enough to stress her out. Following a break for water and some encouragement from scene partner Lemon- whose quirky manner went over well with Jeffrey- Tynomi got through the scene, but with trepidation. We didn’t get to see much of how Starzy and Rita’s scene went, but the hilarious lift practice we did see, which put a supine Kiara’s face right between Rita’s padded butt cheeks, had everyone laughing.

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Having wrapped, the queens ventured back to the werkroom to prepare for the week’s runway. This was themed “Not My First Time in Drag” and contestants were tasked with recreating their own first-ever drag looks. Conversation during prep turned from how they’re feeling now (Boa placed her anxiety levels at an all-time high), to what their first time in drag was like (Lemon and Kyne discussed starting drag in school), to familial support.

Kyne described how her family accepted her identity but felt confused about drag, ultimately overcoming their concerns before the tragic passing of her father. Lemon and Boa echoed these themes, gushing about their particularly supportive moms (Lemon’s calls her family “Five Alive”, assigning each member a citrus fruit of their own to complement her name).

When questions about drag roots were posed to Anastarzia, the conversation took a somber but important turn. Starzy related how she began drag back home in the Bahamas, but also how she and her friends experienced not just backlash but violence for their very identities. Besides relaying that she’s lost many friends to hate-fuelled murder, she bravely confessed to having also survived a shooting that left her with one of three bullets still lodged in her kidney. Though shocked and appalled by this news, the queens were quietly supportive and respectfully inquisitive, giving her their full attention and hands to hold.

Starzy stated that her terrifying experience was the catalyst for her immigration to Canada. She sought asylum upon release from the hospital, arrived here as a refugee, and has lived here since. This provoked thought in the other queens, who acknowledged the importance of people from safer socioeconomic contexts remaining aware of our privilege and supporting others, especially QPOC, who experience persecution. Starzy, ever the professional, wiped her tears, cracked a joke, and continued painting.

The week’s runway kicked off with the judges’ walk and introduction of our guest host, Jade Hassoune, who donned a pair of shiny silver pants I’d quite like to borrow. Jeffrey looked classy in his usual perfectly tailored suit, Stacey served a two piece in a deliciously bright shade of neon green, and Brooke Lynn glided in dressed like a powerful CEO who just left an important meeting in the penthouse boardroom of a high rise with her name on it.

Lemon opened the contestants’ walk in a stunning denim-coloured silk gown with a lengthy train and structured bodice, dripping in stones at the neck and in her hair. This recreated a blue velour original look she described as “busted”, “broke down”, and from a time when she couldn’t pay rent. Rita brought a train too, attached to the back of a swimsuit-cut bodice at the front. It featured sunflowers at the hips and shoulders to mirror her original photo, which she said was a cheap swimsuit with crafting flowers hot glued to the bust.

Tynomi came forth in a silver mini dress amped up with sparkling cuffs and a matching hood, a high pony cascading from the top. The shaped leather belt levelled up her original look, which was a simple grey stretch turtleneck dress and plain elastic belt. Kiara emerged in a white faux fur coat and hair jewels and revealed a sparkling gold handkerchief dress, very reminiscent of the golden original but in clearly higher quality fabric (and accompanied by a lot more makeup).

Pageant royalty Anastarzia sashayed next looking the full part in a black one-sleeve gown with stripes of stoned silver, coiffed burgundy hair, and a stoned collar that probably weighs as much as I do. This was a stylized recreation of the look in which she once attended the Miss Endangered Species pageant. Boa followed up in a lovely structured corset leotard fading from black to white bottom-up, with bright red tips at the bust and matching red pasties. This was a levelled-up tribute to her first drag bra, which boasted shiny fringe and about six red rhinestones.

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For a change of pace, Kyne served an entirely purple paint à la Ursula the sea witch from The Little Mermaid, which her first drag look actually was. She strutted in tall grey hair, a pleather corseted bodysuit, and thigh highs. Priyanka brought shining black finish as well, with shape at the shoulders and hips, lacing from dress hem to neckline, and a jauntily angled hat to tribute her “weird Stevie Nicks impersonation” of auld.

Scarlett’s look was thoroughly Bobo (the harness even spelled her name), with black and red rocker hair, a shining black two-piece, chains, and laced thigh highs. These mirrored a look from the age of 16, which was basically just a mini skirt and crop top. In true Bobo fashion, she took things one step further by whipping out two flame batons, lighting them on fire, and extinguishing the burning ends in her mouth while the judges tried to pick up their jaws.

Ilona’s look was another impressively direct recreation of their original; this featured a shining red and black blazer with high-waisted black panties under a black mesh shirt, covered in sparkling eyeball and lip decals all dripping red. They even painted their own eyes and lips to match the decals. Tying up the runway, Jimbo emerged as a bloody zombie cheerleader, just like her first time in drag but with more attention to detail. The judges yelled when she tore out parts of her pigtails and used them as cheer pom poms.

A viewing of the finished Her-itage Moments depicted some queens shining more in the finished product than the taping had showed us, and others predictably struggling. Judges marked Rita, Anastarzia, Ilona, and Scarlett safe and excused them. During critique of the others, Lemon was praised by all judges for her growth, acting, and beautiful runway.

Tynomi’s feedback regarding both the challenge and her look was less stellar (Jeffrey was borderline harsh using Lemon as comparison), but Brooke did commend her for bringing more presence and energy to the runway. Kiara’s acting skills were lauded as exemplary but her look, though pretty, was also deemed “a little basic”. Stacey, super model of the world, gave her notes for improving her posture and runway walk.

Boa’s trepidation was apparent before she was even addressed. Feedback for her look, however, was all positive (and she geeked when Brooke called her sexy). As predicted, her acting had not impressed and she was given notes about confidence. Judges told Kyne her acting fell flat as well. She was additionally critiqued for the slightly unfinished look of her runway, with judges agreeing they actually liked her original photo better.

Priyanka’s acting notes glowed thanks to the way she stayed in amusing character from start to finish. Although Brooke laughed that her runway walk might have been the slowest in Drag Race history, Pri’s look was called “stunning”. Jimbo was labelled “terrifying… but in the best way”. Her acting was critiqued for being a little smaller than expected, but only because they believe she’s capable of more.

Joining the safe queens in the werkroom, the girls rehashed their critiques for their colleagues. Lemon expressed relief that her hard work paid off this week while Kyne listened to the other girls’ analyses of how much more gracefully she took this week’s feedback. Tynomi made everyone laugh doing a good natured impression of Jeffrey giving her critiques, while Boa got giggles mistaking the word “lag” for “leg” and fumbling a joke.

Upon returning to the runway, the queens learned that Lemon won the challenge, scoring her a $5000 supply of makeup from Anastasia Beverly Hills. Less excitingly, they also learned that Kyne and Tynomi were up for elimination. The lip sync was set to the Stars On 54 version of “If You Could Read My Mind”, originally by Canadian recording artist Gordon Lightfoot. While Kyne’s heart and emotions were clear, they were no match for Tynomi’s confidence and irresistible stage presence. In fact, Tynomi got so into her lip sync that she finished the song feeling overwhelmed and burst into tears.

Proving that she is a good teammate and can act with poise, Kyne comforted Tynomi without hesitation. She also, to the amusement of all, brushed off Tynomi’s apology with the comment “I’m about to go home, this is my moment, ok?” Alas, Kyne was correct and she exits the stage telling us she’ll see us all “on the Internets” (which she will; she was already a viral sensation, after all)!

We might only be at the second episode, but these queens are already cementing the series as one of the best things to come out of the franchise (not that I’m biased or anything). Whether you’re a longtime Drag Race fan who just hasn’t gotten into this season yet or new to the Drag Race train and looking for an excuse to hop on, let this roller-coaster episode convince you that Canada’s Drag Race will spark or reinvigorate your appreciation.

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Don’t forget to watch next week (or catch up) on the Crave in Canada, WOW Presents Plus in the US, or BBC Three iPlayer in the UK! You can catch CDR every Thursday at 9 pm EST (or Friday overseas).
You can also catch myself, my co-host Ja’mie Queen West, and each week’s eliminated queen every Monday for a cute little segment called “Talk Aboot It with Drag Coven” over on our YouTube channel, complete with an exclusive weekly digital portrait on our Instagram. We talk fast and cackle a lot.

Written By

Courtney Conquers is a drag artist and archivist, writer, consultant, public speaker, and live show videographer. She is best known for her work as part of the queer media collective Drag Coven (she's the short one who films the videos). Courtney has a Master of Arts in Women’s and Gender Studies from Carleton University in Canada and is an outspoken advocate for diversity and inclusion in drag and queer spaces. She also regularly promotes, coordinates, talent handles, and casts drag events throughout North America. When she’s not traveling for her own gigs, assisting other drag performers, holding a video camera, or writing about drag and queer fem issues, Courtney can usually be found knitting in obnoxious colours. 

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