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Canada’s Drag Race S1:E7 (Miss Loose Jaw)

Just like her presence on the show itself, Boa‘s post elimination mirror message got laughs. It said only “Nice!”; Boa’s long-entrenched Facebook joke that several queens left recognized. As they wiped it away, Ilona Verley laughed at how on brand it was. They and Priyanka reflected on how proud they were of Boa and how much the world will love her.

The queens took to the couches for their usual debriefing and Priyanka described the judges’ request for elim recommendations from the cast as “a bit of a rigamarole”. Jimbo checked in with Lemon over being the top nomination; she was satisfied to see the two queens who came for her the hardest land in the bottom themselves, and she couldn’t help noticing every reason cited was personal, not about her drag.

Priyanka checked in on Rita Baga‘s feelings about her win. She felt good about serving something different, but she was distracted by Scarlett Bobo‘s clear disappointment. Rita asked if she wanted to talk about it and Scarlett outlined her frustration with pushing herself so hard, never winning, and rarely getting enough feedback to help her improve. Scarlett used words like “embarrassed” and “defeated” but Priyanka privately recognized that her friend was not just upset… she was “pissed’.

When Ilona tried to offer consolation, Scarlett rebuffed it. Ilona bristled, reminding us Scarlett was safe while Ilona themself had just lip synced. They apologized to their “sissy” and told her to go ahead and have her moment, but their tone garnered eye rolls in return and the mood was tense as the cast started dedragging.

Reentering the werkroom for a new day, the freshly appointed top 6 circled the table to start their week. The queens chatted about half the cast being gone, wanting to prove themselves, and how empty the room felt. Rupaul’s message then regaled them with a long list of classic drag pageant titles and judge Brooke Lynn Hytes arrived to get things started.

Brooke, standing in ballet first as usual, threw the queens by skipping a mini-challenge and getting down to business on the maxi-challenge. The queens had been “entered” into the “very first pageant in Drag Race herstory”, the Miss Loose Jaw pageant (for our international friends, this is a play-on-words of the Canadian city Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Yes, it’s a real place. My brother was born there). Brooke explained that this small town pageant (“…that might take place in a community centre”) would consist of talent, swimsuit, and interview. The cast would be assigned characters to compete as, bringing them to life in each category.

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As the winner of last week’s maxi, Rita assigned the characters. Brooke left and the queens gathered to read profiles. Rita chose Miss Matched- a hopeless romantic who is “so hashtag blessed”. Jimbo and Scarlett both wanted Miss Behavin’, the sex-positive “town bicycle”, but Rita awarded the part to Jimbo. She handed Scarlett Miss Informed, a know-it-all who always has an opinion. Scarlett looked less than thrilled and Rita joked “Don’t give me that attitude!” Priyanka privately commented once again that she could see Scarlett’s fury.

Lemon was assigned “bratty pageant princess” Miss Fits and Ilona received Miss Erable, a “sad sack” with a down-and-out attitude. Rita stumbled over this name and didn’t understand until Ilona explained; perhaps because “erable” is actually the French word for maple? Priyanka was dubbed Miss Demeanour, a hothead with a chip on her shoulder. Rita asked if everyone was happy and, with the exception of a quiet Scarlett, they actually were.

The queens dispersed. Ilona advised Priyanka on hair alterations while Lemon wandered the room in a wig but no face, practicing her royal wave. Ilona brainstormed their contestant to be the girl you never talk to at school who smokes on her lunch break, with a touch of their own quirks. Priyanka reminded them not to just play themself; they must be funny!

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Brooke Lynn arrived for the usual walkthrough, checking in with Lemon first. After listening to her character plan, she asked after Lemon’s feelings following last week’s peer critiques. On Lemon’s explanation of personal versus professional reasoning, the two theorized that the cast sees her as fierce competition. On her turn, Priyanka felt determined to redeem herself. Rita and Brooke bonded over the pressures of representing somewhere (Rita is the only French queen left there and Brooke Lynn was once the only Canadian on Drag Race).

Moving to Scarlett, Brooke Lynn listened to her frustrations with bringing her A-game but never bagging the win, reassured her that her time will come. Pirouetting to the couch, Brooke asked Ilona how they’ll play their character, then shifted back to representation. They discussed Ilona’s position as the first Indigenous two spirit person on Drag Race and how much it means after a lifetime of rarely seeing anyone like themself on TV. Jimbo mapped out her history in vaudeville for Brooke, as well as her experiences with clown training.

Brooke bid the queens farewell, imploring them to “Make strong character choices, be hold, be consistent, and- for fuck’s sake- be a winner.” Before departing, she blew the cast’s minds with the announcement that their extra special guest judge of the week would be Canadian indie-pop singer/songwriter Allie X. She took her leave with the words “And don’t motherfucking-fuck-fuck-fuckity-fuck it up.” Miss Continental, ladies and gentlethems!

The Miss Loose Jaw pageant arrived. Judge Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman put on his best beauty pageant host voice. The panel boasted “Canada’s best squirrelfriend” and ETalk host Traci Melchor, Degrassi actor Stefan Brogren, and Canadian icon and drag legend Michelle DuBarry (who, at 85 years old, once officially held the title of the world’s oldest working drag queen until American queen Darcelle, who also still regularly dons her wigs at 89, was found to have a couple years on her). Stefan stayed quietly bemused, while Traci burst out laughing at Michelle’s stream of one-liners; Michelle started by asking if she won the pageant and, on finding out she didn’t, muttered “Oh. So… fuck it.”

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The “contestants” emerged in matching blue floor-length dresses and sashes bearing their names, ready to introduce themselves. Rita was overly-positive and thanked God. A pregnant, low-voiced, and sullen Priyanka thanked her dad for abandoning her and muttered that if her baby kept kicking her, she’d kick back. Jimbo, voice like a phone sex operator, talked about her gag reflex while rubbing her giant breastplate. Ilona, with sad posture, a downer attitude, and plenty of eye rolling, wanted to show their parents they can be like other girls. Scarlett was a high strung, fast talking, almost manically energetic over-achiever who thanked herself. Lemon played a hopelessly determined repeat contestant with a southern drawl, a father who finances her competitive endeavours, and a mother she wants to prove wrong.

The first category was talent and Ilona started it with some somber still life art. They revealed a painting of eggplants as a metaphor for society, but they rejected all compliments as mockery, peeled off their coat, and smeared red paint on their body in protest. Priyanka did an interpretive dance (in cut offs and battered Docs) that represented her anger, acted out fisticuffs, and ended with her giving birth offstage and reemerging with a towel wrapped “baby”. Jimbo squatted like she might strip, then breathily announced her talent for “animal calls”. She made wild sounds and acted out fictional animals with sexual innuendo names.

Scarlett stood behind bongo drums, rattled off her qualifications and esteemed training, and gave a maniacal performance in which she frantically alternated beating the drums and her own titties. Lemon was next, padded and cinched in a tuxedo corset to perform a mime routine. Her try-hard attitude was thwarted by clumsiness when she struggled with an invisible door and “smacked her head” on exiting, but smiled throughout. Rita closed the category with an energetic gift wrapping tutorial reminiscent of basic white girl YouTubers.

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For swimsuit, the contestants wore the same sky blue one-piece. Only Rita made alterations by sticking glitter foam flippers to her shoes, which she showed off while blowing kisses and making hearts with her hands. Priyanka modelled with her towel-baby, displaying no emotion and stomping around with an intimidating stare. Jimbo pulled her own hair and tried to fit her fist in her mouth. Ilona used her fingers to force her mouth into a smile but gave up and stomped away. Scarlett was hyperactively adorable. Lemon started a pageant walk, rolled her ankle, wavered while shouting for her daddy, and then collected herself for an end pose.

In Q&A, Rita wished for the world to become as “hashtag blessed” as her. Priyanka called Canada’s literacy rate unimportant because reading is for dumb people. When JBC called reading fundamental, she gave him a death stare. Jimbo disregarded her question to deep throat Jeffrey’s mic. Ilona’s greatest wish was to delete their family or go home right now. Scarlett decided her younger self wouldn’t need advice because she is perfect, and offered the rest of the world advice instead: be more like her! Lemon would advise her younger self to “Kill that bitch Traci” because then she’d have a crown… oh, and world peace.

Traci, Michelle, and Stefan “tabulated scores” (read: scribbled on paper) while JBC announced a break. On return, however, Michelle was missing and Traci found a note that said “See ya, suckers” on her seat. “Backstage footage” showed us Michelle sneaking up to a plastic costume crown on a pillow, snatching it, and scurrying away. Cutting back to Jeffrey, we learned that the crown had gone missing and no Miss Loose Jaw could be chosen.

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Back in the werkroom, the queens prepped their “Pageant Perfection” runway looks for elimination day. Rita covered her tattoos for a more natural look while Jimbo decided to experiment with face tapes to look “snatched”. Scarlett admitted to feeling very cranky and snapped when Ilona agreed that she was a little too vehemently. This sparked an argument about Bobo’s eye rolling, Ilona’s unwarranted running commentary on Bobo’s actions, and their generally off-kilter dynamic this week. Scarlett balked when Ilona called her energy negative and demanded they mind their own business before things got temporarily quiet.

Mostly joking, Priyanka piped up that they should argue more because it’s fun. Jimbo concurred, chanting “Keep fighting!” Ilona clarified that they were merely expressing feelings, but Scarlett called hypocrisy and the two dove back into high speed squabbling. Priyanka and Jimbo laughed over stirring the pot. Jimbo did impressions of them while Priyanka marvelled at their ability to fight over “literally nothing”. Rita put it to an end by shouting for attention and reminding them that this show is supposed to be Canadian, so they should be nicer.

The queens shifted focus to how much they appreciated living legend Michelle DuBarry. They discussed her esteemed history in drag, as well as her trailblazing achievements in the wider queer community. They acknowledged the importance of learning about and respecting queer elders. When Rita named Lady Bunny as another inspiration and cited her larger size as part of that, talk shifted to body image. When Pri encouraged a hesitant Lemon to speak, recounted struggling with physical perfection in the extremely demanding professional ballet industry. The importance of body positivity dissipated previous tension.

The judges graced the runway in shades of purple. Jeffrey’s signature suit was a deep eggplant and Stacey McKenzie wore a pleated dress in deep purple and black. Her collar rose all the way up her neck to her jaw and her hair was twisted and swirled into a tall bun. Brooke Lynn Hytes stunned in a long lilac gown with a sparkling streak of lavender across the bodice towards a skirt split. Her voluminous blonde pageant bob had subtly matching purple streaks. Guest host Allie X emerged in a white, long sleeved dress with a thick black belt, chain sash, and bright red boots. Her hair was sleekly parted, her brows were bleached, and she looked like a guard from some royal high court.

Ilona lead the queens in a lilac mermaid gown with iridescent jewelry, including a jewelled chain top. Her matching lilac hair was like a bob blown back in waves. Lemon bounced out in a bright yellow short tulle gown and big hair, looking like a contestant from Toddler’s and Tiaras. She presented like one too, doing cutesy moves in her white tap shoes and frilly ankle socks. When Rita appeared, BLH gasped and put her hand to her chest. She wore a champagne mermaid gown with black wisps at the top and bottom and black floral decals. It was completed by long matching gloves, huge earrings, and swept black, short platinum hair.

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Priyanka wowed too, in a sparkling gold and sky blue Bollywood inspired gown and a voluminous black pageant bob. The skirt featured a split to her hip and a long piece off chiffon hung from one shoulder. Jimbo was bright in a huge pink hoop skirt, lighter pink feather boa, and blonde pin curls piled high. Pink maribou adorned the bust, skirt hem, and bustle and sparkling stone chains hung from her ears and her eyes. Scarlett finished in a black Hollywood bob with a white streak, a black fur capelet, and a sparkling nude sheer gown with black floral decals and a subtle grey ombre towards the bottom. She had matching detached sleeves, a skirt split on one side, and large ruffles from hip to floor on the other.

With less people standing on the runway, the critiques were a little more thorough. Ilona learned that their character delivered less sad and more petulant child, without quite reaching funny. Judges loved their silhouette and jewels but disliked the shape of their hair. Lemon received rave reviews for her character, accent, commitment, and engagement, as well as her padded shape. Her runway concept was lauded as genius, creative, and cute. Rita’s “hopeless romantic” character didn’t hit the mark and needed more dimension. Her gown presentation, however, was a showstopper, even if her hair left something to be desired.

Priyanka’s pageant performance was critiqued for being too one noted and lacking enough development to reach humour (despite Allie’s obsession with her onstage birth and towel baby). Her gown was praised all round its sense of true pageant beauty and stunning colour story, despite a few notes for more confident posture. Jimbo was another favourite in the pageant for her hilarious character, but her gown was a miss all round; it lacked glamour, looked too homemade, and was ill-fitting. Scarlett learned that her character got laughs through the whole pageant and she was called “magnificent” but with edge in her 1940s runway glam. Brooke said she looked as if “…a rockstar was forced to go to The Oscars”.

The queens were dismissed to untuck in the werkroom and, as usual, they ended up burrito wrapped in blankets against the apparently frigid set air. Lemon claimed having one rhinestoned out of place could make or break the game at this point, while Scarlett basked in finally feeling seen and important. Pri admitted to feeling stupid for ending up in the bottom again. She kept humour in her remarks (she felt like “…those girls at the club, like delusional drag queens who think they’re the ticket”) but stressed about having quit a good job to do the show. She felt bad doing poorly when she was trying to rep for queer POC.

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When Priyanka said she and Ilona must be in the bottom, Jimbo countered that she could be as well. She launched into a semi-humorous but subtly upset tirade about Jeffrey’s claim that her runway wasn’t glamorous “at all”, questioning his grasp of English. Rita, in a misdirected attempt to help, asked if she could weigh in and Jimbo said she wanted to hear all opinions. Rita admitted that this week was the first time she felt Jimbo looked older than she really is and, despite what she just said, Jimbo went on the defensive, laying into Rita for her hair choice. As Rita listened and the other queens squawked in scandal, Jimbo ranted about every aspect of the wig. Lemon comforted Priyanka, whose worries had been swept aside. The queens were joking again in minutes, but things were tense and Pri felt disregarded.

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The deliberating judges were almost all on the same page. Ilona just wasn’t bringing it to the same level as other queens, while Lemon made intelligent choices and good impressions. Rita landed in the middle for her pageant act, but her gown still awed (though they agreed with Jimbo about the hair). Priyanka’s challenge elicited disappointment and, despite her gorgeous gown, displayed a big loss of confidence. Jimbo excelled like no other at comedic acting but her taste level just didn’t meet the mark. Scarlett did a stellar job of combining glamour and classic Bobo edge, and was also surprisingly hilarious. They deemed her the most consistent person in the competition so far. She hasn’t won anything yet, nor has she been in the bottom; she is just consistently very good.

Back on the runway, stress was palpable. The maxi-challenge was awarded to Lemon, who scored an all-inclusive luxury vacation for two to Iceland. Judges had praised Scarlett just as highly and almost in tandem, however, so her expectations were amped and her disappointment at being safe again was very evident behind her quiet professionalism. Rita and Jimbo were also safe, leaving Ilona and Priyanka to lip sync for their lives. Ilona took this news with a calm smile and Pri matched her good attitude but did take a few deep breaths.

In honour of their guest host, the song of the week was “Hello” by Allie X. Pri took a livelier pace while Ilona channeled emotionality in their gestures. They smiled with confidence and kept a powerful attitude but their movement was more minimal (perhaps due to their mermaid gown). Priyanka took a more humorous approach; she did an intentionally bad kick in her gown, hit beats in the music on invisible drum sets, and acted out lyrics. She even used the slit in her skirt to manage a jump split despite her pageant finery. When Pri got too close and Ilona brushed her out of their space, she kept things light rather than competitive or tense, moving on with a smile and giving her sister more room.

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The queens finished the song embracing each other with big, authentic smiles on their faces. Ilona clearly laid their heart on the stage, but Pri’s sense of fun hit home with the judges, who invited her to stay. Ilona sashayed away.

Accepting the news with grace, Ilona took one last chance to give voice to their identity non binary identity and the importance of their time on the show as an Indigenous two spirit individual. Their exit shout about keeping party girls down was more in like with the loud, fun person we’ve all come to appreciate in the show. 

Entering the werkroom for the last time, Ilona wrote their mirror message and then turned to find Allie X quietly walking up behind them. Screeching in excitement, Ilona got the chance to tell Allie how big a fan they are and how much they love their music before taking their leave, and received just as much encouragement in return.

Don’t forget to watch Canada’s Drag Race each week, at 9 pm EST every Thursday! You can watch it on Crave in Canada, WOW Presents Plus in the US, and BBC iPlayer Three in the UK (on Fridays). You can also catch up with each weeks’ eliminated queen with me and Ja’mie Queen West in our Talk Aboot It Youtube series, posted every Monday!
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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