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Canada’s Drag Race S1:E3 (Not Sorry Aboot It)

Episode three of Canada’s Drag Race has graced our screens and I’m still not over the hilarity of the queens entering the otherwise familiar werkroom… through the centre of a giant sparkling maple leaf. While we’re talking about elements I’m still not over; how cold was that set? This episode’s subtle chilly undertone featured such notable moments as Scarlett Bobo burrito wrapping herself in a fuzzy blanket during the “Untucked” segment and Anastarzia Anaquway learning choreography in not only a scarf and jacket, but also what appeared to be a thick bathrobe underneath. Shivering or not, the cast delivered! Let’s rewind for a moment.

The queens kept each other laughing through the weekly wiping of the mirror message following Kyne‘s elimination, but their competitive circumstances seemed to hit. While Lemon expressed that she felt renewed by her win, Tynomi said lip syncing hit her reset button and vowed to take no prisoners. With only 10 queens left, the girls were unanimous that it feels like anyone’s game at this point and they couldn’t predict who might leave next.

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The next day, the queens were met by co-judge Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (in a silver shirt and leopard pants combo I hated and then loved, and then hated and then loved) for the mini-challenge. He introduced a special guest: Canadian TV personality and ETalk correspondent Traci Melchor who has been awarded the title of “Canada’s Best Squirrelfriend”. To be honest with you, I’m not entirely sure if this is a recurring role nor precisely what it entails, but she looked lovely, seems nice, and has all kinds of relevant knowledge, so that’s great!

Traci explained that the mini-challenge was to “audition” as anchors for a brand new morning show called “Canada Gay-M”. The queens split into pairs quickly and without fuss. The goal was to be the most entertaining duo, but there was a twist: this theoretical show would be Canada’s “first trilingual talkshow”, requiring queens to read their teleprompters first in English, then French, and finally “Draglish”. The queens slapped on “anchorwoman quick drag” in 20 minutes. My personal favourite quip was Starzy claiming that “Tynomi is toe up from the flo’ up” and saying she looks like someone’s Jamaican great, great auntie. She did.

At a desk, the queens did their best to deliver every line in all three languages while also balancing their characters and partner dynamic. Traci advised “If you fuck it up, keep going” and that was taken to heart. Rita Baga and Kiara delivered a polished report in French, English, and Draglish, but their calm demeanour didn’t stand out amidst the other quirky characters. Scarlett and Ilona Verley, meanwhile, worked well and adopted “valley girl” personas. It was cute but not unlike the partnered performance we saw from them last week.

Boa and Jimbo became two hungover anchors looking a little worse for wear but they took it almost too far. Jimbo had trouble nailing words through her thick southern drawl and Boa’s lines got lost in her high pitched, halting manner. They also spoke over each other and forgot each other’s names. It was messy but still quite entertaining. Starzy and Tynomi struggled too. Starzy maintained a deadpan attitude until she burst out laughing at her fumbles and Tynomi lost words almost immediately. To her credit, she swapped seamlessly into complete gibberish. She delivered that nonsense completely seriously until everyone was in stitches.

Lemon and Priyanka‘s time at the desk proved hilarious, high energy, and fit for TV. They played off each other well, used their improv skills, and kept their words even and well-pronounced. That careful balance with a dose of hilarity won them the challenge, awarding them each gift packs from Canadian drag jewel designers Amped Accessories and the title of team captain for the maxi-challenge.

For this, the queens were split into two “rival girl groups” to perform a “super shady queen-on-queen rap battle” complete with “trash talking” lyrics of their own composition and recording. They also must learn choreography for a live number. Their recording time would be lead by Toronto-based singer-songwriter Ralph, their choreo taught by Canadian dancer-turned-producer Hollywood Jade, and their runway judged and hosted by Canadian music diva Deborah Cox (who Tynomi let us all know she has actually backup danced for several times).

The captains chose teams in alternation, once again leaving poor Ilona to last. Lemon selected Tynomi, Jimbo, Kiara, and Boa, and Priyanka picked Rita, Scarlett, Anastarzia, and happily took Ilona into the fold by default. As they got down to work, Priyanka noticed Ilona was upset. They discussed how being picked last twice triggered childhood feelings of being left out but the group reassured them and helped them feel ready to work.

After explaining the term to Starzy and Rita who had never heard it before, the group dubbed themselves The Moose Knuckles; a name Jeffrey was thrilled by in walkthrough. He inquired of Priyanka how she strategized her team and she said she wanted five distinct personalities that could also blend, just like the Spice Girls.

Across the werkroom, Team Lemon decided to call themselves “The Dwolls” (Priyanka had also suggested calling her team “Priyanka and The Dolls but they kiboshed it). The group discussed who’s musically inclined and Jimbo treated them to a momentary concert. Tynomi felt confident, Kiara listed the drag musical acts she’s been a part of, and Lemon insisted she’s a rap master because of her extensive taste in rap music.

Lemon’s claims made her team laugh but her top rap inspirations seemed to impress Jeffrey when he stopped by. He asked how they’ll take the other team down and they reiterated that they know what they’re doing and they’re ready to play their strengths. Boa, perhaps with the least amount of relevant experience, got to work on lyrics about hometown sister Scarlett.

The Dwolls recorded first with Ralph, who Tynomi charmed immediately. With one note about putting adding personality, Tynomi bagged her verse in two takes. Lemon proved her confidence by nailing her verse with no trouble or feedback. Kiara explained her sassy lyrics to much acclaim and recorded them with success. Jimbo got laughs explaining her “club vibe” and ad libbing. Boa was the only member who required several takes but she kept a great attitude, applied critiques for rhythm and enunciation, and she got it in the end.

The Moose Knuckles arrived and weren’t intimidated one bit by Ralph’s praise of The Dwolls. Priyanka charmed Ralph with news that she has music on iTunes and nailed her verse in one take. Scarlett also shouted out her iTunes discography (including WERRRK.com’s 2015 Song of the Year, “Break My Heart” and also knocked her recording out of the park. Ilona admitted they’d never recorded but their ad libs got laughs and they were very excited. Starzy adopted a “let’s get this over with” attitude and required some hyping up. She fumbled her words but still got there. Rita, a trained vocalist, wrapped things by singing her verse instead of rapping, which pleased everyone.

Next on the docket was choreography! The Dwolls were split evenly in confidence levels. Lemon and Tynomi (both trained dancers) thought nothing of the moves and picked them up quickly. Kiara felt the pressure but kept up well, as did Boa after starting out a beat behind. Jimbo struggled and admitted she hates being bad at things, which showed. Hollywood was neither impressed nor upset and urged them to practice.

Upon entrance of The Moose Knuckles, Hollywood noted their visible worry. Ilona stated they’re definitely not a dancer. Priyanka and Rita got the moves but struggled with speed even though they stayed positive. Anastarzia found the moves and her confidence slipping. By the end, Priyanka and Scarlett seemed ready but the other three looked less enthusiastic.

On elimination day, the queens felt pressure. While painting, Boa sensed Scarlett was angry with her but couldn’t pinpoint why. Jimbo encouraged her to clear the air. Across the room, Scarlett admitted Pri that she was upset with Boa. She felt she’d been supportive and gotten nothing but reads and shade in return, leaving her annoyed. When Boa approached to hash it out, Scarlett said she needed to focus on preparing for the challenge. Boa understood but asked to speak later. She begrudgingly agree but admitted that tension makes her anxious.

A few seats over, Tynomi and Starzy discussed background. Tynomi was born in Toronto but her family is from Jamaica. They also asked Priyanka, whose parents are Guyanese. Pri explained that her mother is extremely supportive and comes to her shows, but they hide her identity and drag from her father, who is much more traditional. Their relationship isn’t bad but he doesn’t know her truth because she’s afraid it would make him hate her. Lightening the mood, she recounted telling him she actually has a girlfriend… named Priyanka.

The judges kicked off the runway. Jeffrey donned an eggplant suit while Stacey McKenzie wowed in a rainbow leopard print gown and matching head wrap. Brooke Lynn Hytes brought two-toned glamour in a blue sequinned jacket and mini skirt with bright orange boots and slicked hair. Guest host Deborah Cox wore a floor length black and gold gown with diamond cutouts at the waist (I couldn’t stop staring at the one perfectly framing her bellybutton).

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The queens performed their rap battle (lip syncing to their own voices, which amuses me). The Dwolls emerged in black rhinestoned leotards and bright hair, followed by The Moose Knuckles looking like the Spice Girls. The faux-confrontational intro was a hit, with Priyanka, Scarlett, and Boa standing out. Lemon and Rita got laughs too. Each queen’s verse was delivered well, but Ilona and Kiara faded into the background while Tynomi forgot lyrics and Jimbo forgot choreography. Starzy lost enthusiasm and failed to stand out. The song shifted, the queens concluded to a song about apologizing, and the judges enjoyed the whole shtick.

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The runway theme- “Que-Becky with The Good Hair”- required garments that creatively incorporated hair. Kiara stomped in a gold lamé jumpsuit and large, teased blonde afro; very 1970s disco. Jimbo donned a jumpsuit too; sheer black topped with a body harness and hugely voluminous blonde and red hair on her head, shoulders, and hips like a bustle. Tynomi brought a rainbow to rival Stacey’s, strutting in a wide hat with lengths of hair hanging over the brim to match the rainbow hair making up her capelet.

Boa got unconventional, emerging in huge pageant hair and a large fur coat (which I’d wager she was grateful for, given my frigid set theory). She them revealed a nude illusion suit under what she called a “man-kini”, complete with chest hair and a full wig cascading from between her legs. Lemon got conceptual too in a bark-brown gown to make her body the trunk, long brown gloves turning her arms to branches, and tall tree-shaped hair with lemons in it.

To BLH’s astonishment, Priyanka emerged in the same two-toned combo as her. Pri’s was a cage-style dress made from braided hair, finished with a fluffy hair skirt. The hair on her head was also two-tined with a bun each encased in braids of the contrasting colour. Starzy took the record for most hair involved in a look that was full Cousin It on the back (complete with bowler hat and shades) and inspired by Chun-Li on the front.

Rita sported an 80s-inspired electric yellow dress and huge purple hair with yellow shocks through it. Scarlett blended black and white hair in leotard with pom pom buttons, painted like a clown, and showed off hair that spelled “BOBO” in tressed letters. She also blew smoke from her mouth and nose. Ilona looked soft in powder blue, stylized to perfection from their curled hair to the poodles on their shoulders to the fur lined, paw print corset and boots.

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With the runway wrapped, Tynomi, Priyanka, Kiara, Scarlett, Starzy, Boa, and Ilona are named tops and bottoms of the week. Rita, Jimbo, and Lemon are marked safe and sent to untuck. Critiques begin with Kiara, who was listed as lost in the number, not yet thinking outside the box, and operating on a lower taste level (a statement that made her cry in disappointment). Deborah Cox provided balance, advising not to beat herself up if she put her best forward.

Tynomi’s whose dance skills were highly praised, but her lyric forgetfulness wasn’t missed and her outfit was called unflattering, unpolished, and “just some got glued hair”. Boa’s look was a hit, with the outfit dubbed “stupid and dumb, but in a good way” and the makeup and hair described as beautiful. Her performance was called a “standout” and “one to watch”.

Priyanka’s look was deemed playful just like her. Judges said her manner of over-performing in the number was perfect for drag and she screamed in excitement when Deborah Cox called her “the MVP”. To Anastarzia, judges admitted confusion and said her outfit had “too much happening”, but they enjoyed seeing her step out of her comfort zone. Regarding her performance, judges were unanimous that she looked uptight and faded out almost entirely.

Scarlett’s look and performance were a hit across the board. She was praised for personality and engagement and her outfit was called simple but charmingly personalized. Ilona’s outfit got rave reviews, with praise for every stunning detail and a toast to their taste level. Their performance, however, received quite the opposite sentiment.

Back in the werkroom, Rita laid down to relieve the weight of her hair while Jimbo told Lemon she looked like “Groot’s sexy mother”. The other queens joined, outlining Starzy’s stress over poor feedback and Kiara’s disappointment at being pegged “basic”. Tynomi felt overwhelmed when asked about her own critiqued and briefly excused herself. Returning, she discussed feeling added pressure to live up to her name and how it precedes her. Her sisters encouraged her and talked about self reflection and managing expectations in new contexts.

Boa expressed surprise at finding out she didn’t suck in the challenge but a mumbled read from Scarlett prompted her to confront their tension again. Scarlett described lacking mutual support from Boa and confessed to feeling like “target practice”, which was confusing given their good relationship back home. Priyanka lightened the mood with good natured jokes, and Scarlett and Boa apologized and made amends. Rita reflected on differences between Toronto, where the queens read and scrap, and Montreal, where they reportedly do not.

On the panel, all parties agreed that this was a very tough week to judge. They analyzed Boa as being in “a league of her own” due to no one else on cast sharing her style. They expressed joy at seeing more from Priyanka as time goes on and called Scarlett a “rocker clown”, “little spitfire”, and “ball of energy”. They wished better from the way Kiara dressed her “high fashion” body and remarked that Starzy’s seriousness gave her a “Terminator in drag” attitude. They felt exasperated waiting for Tynomi to serve what she’s truly capable of and mystified by how Ilona commands attention individually but disappears in groups.

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Back on stage, Boa, Scarlett, Ilona, and Kiara were excused as safe. Priyanka was crowned winner of this week’s challenge, receiving a VIP stay and “culinary experience” at the beautiful Hilton Lac-Leamy hotel in Gatineau, Quebec. Unfortunately, this left Anastarzia and Tynomi up for elimination. You could practically see Tynomi’s displeasure at a second week in the bottom, but also how it shifted her into business mode.

Deborah Cox’s “Absolutely Not” was the song du jour. Both queens ripped off hampering outfit pieces; Tynomi her hair hat and Starzy her… entire Cousin It. They delivered the kind of powered-driven lip sync that’s low on tricks but high on well-honed energy; the kind you see from true professionals. They interacted but never got in each other’s way. Tynomi removed her rainbow hair capelet to reveal a black hair bodysuit beneath (to an audible reaction from Brooke Lynn). This freed her up for floor work, but only enough to drive her presence home. Starzy gave powerful emotion but her large head piece limited her movement.

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Like the good sports they are, the queens finished their lip sync with a hug and kind words for each other. Despite the immense respect that everyone present clearly had for Anastarzia, Tynomi was victorious for a second week. Starzy was sent off with their love, but not before she left them some wise words to hang onto. She also neglected to write any mirror message at all; something I think might be a Drag Race first. She uncapped the lipstick, through for a moment, replaced the cap without using it, and gave clean, blank mirror a kiss on the tips of her fingers, maintaining that calm sense of class until the very end.

Don’t forget to watch for yourself each week too! You can find Canada’s Drag Race on Crave in Canada, on Wow Presents Plus in the US, and on BBC Three in the UK (every Friday). You should also join me over on Drag Coven every Monday to see our weekly “Talk Aboot It’ segment, where we chat with the eliminated queen about CDR, drag, and usually snacks.

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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