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Canada’s Drag Race s1:e9 (The Snow Ball)

The realization that they’d made it to the top four hit the queens immediately upon reentering the werkroom after Lemon‘s elimination. Her characteristic message- “You’re all dumb and ugly, xoxo Lemon”- got the queens laughing, but they unanimously agree that, even though they loved their sister, they were excited to have one less person to compete with.

Shifting to the couches, Scarlett Bobo asked Rita Baga what it felt like to lip sync for the first time. Shade ensued when she followed with “Jimbo and I wouldn’t know, and hopefully we won’t ever have to find out.” This prompted Rita to remind Bobo she doesn’t know much about winning either before answering. Priyanka screamed that she finally got her “Pridemption”. Tallying up, Pri counted Rita with three wins, Jimbo with two, herself with one, and Scarlett screaming “None!” for another week.

The next morning, the queens ran so enthusiastically into the werkroom that Jimbo got tangled in Scarlett’s fringed sleeve and compared her to a “leather tasseled tornado”. Looking at all the space, they bantered about where the other queens went, how crazy it was that only four of them remained, and who might win the $100,000 prize money. Jimbo felt pretty confident that it would be her as the Ru-mail alarm went (scaring the shit out of Rita). The message bore puns about snow, ice, and the arctic.

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Judge Stacey McKenzie entered the werkroom in a cargo inspired minidress and cropped jacket. Her thickly braided, blonde high pony down to her bust got all the queens shouting compliments at her. Commending the top four, Stacey reminded them that making it to the finale would require them to pull out all the stops. She revealed that the mini-challenge would test them… screen test them, that is. She brought in Canadian comedian, writer, and producer Sabrina Jalees as a guest consultant.

Stacey let the queens know they’d be auditioning for the role of “Local Singer” in what Sabrina described (between flirting with Stacey and boasting about flossing with Timothy Chalamet back in LA) as her new fictional project “Oh, She Betta, Canada”. In 20 minute “local chanteuse quick drag”, the queens must sing the national anthem, applying any feedback she gives them each time she raises her hand.

On set, the queens arrived individually in front of a green screen looking either like stereotypical local Canadians or divas who haven’t had their big break yet. Jimbo wore a stoned stretch dress with a large cleavage cutout, her signature huge breastplate, and a crimped half-pony wig. She walked up stating that she was here to apply for the part of “…your song-treuse, or whatever it’s called”. Sabrina commented that her dress came with a built in wardrobe malfunction, but Jimbo claimed, “There’s no malfunction in this wardrobe!”

Scarlett skipped to the mic in a little brown mini skirt, plaid shirt tied up high, and messy brown hair, which she flipped while she yelled about how nice the set was. Priyanka wore plaid too; a button down closed to the neck, with jean cut offs and unbrushed red hair. She shouted hi and told Sabrina she’d worn an outfit that felt Canadian. Rita went the chanteuse route too, in big hair, bigger shades, and a sparkly minidress. She even brought her own rhinestoned wireless mic, which she spoke into at all times as she introduced herself as “a famous singer from Boucherville” (a suburb of Montreal).

Sabrina requested that each person sing her and Stacey “Oh, Canada”, the Canadian national anthem. What followed was a montage of genuinely hysterical improvised chaos as Sabrina shouted requests for renditions of the song that were faster, slower, underwater, flat, breathy, sad, angry, or sang as though they were speaking to their ex-husband.

The queens, superimposed onto the background of a packed stadium, delivered pitchy, halted, chaotic, and generally amusing versions of the anthem. They changed tactics on command, acting out their chosen persona as they did. Rita was a diva, Jimbo caressed her rubber titties, and Scarlett and Priyanka were both starstruck and a little rough around the edges. Perhaps the most amusing version was the angry round, where each queen screamed the anthem’s lyrics like lead singer of a death metal band.

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Back in the werkroom, Stacey thanked the queens for their once in a lifetime performances and named Rita the winner of the mini-challenge. Her first mini-win snagged her a $1000 gift card from Dirt Squirrel. Stacey then introduced the queens to yet another RPDR classique: the ball. Most season semi-finals in the franchise have featured a ball, and Canada’s first would be The Snow Ball. The queens were required to model three outfits in three different categories: Executive Holiday Party Realness, Aprés Aprés Ski (or The Icy Walk of Shame), and Ice Queen Eleganza.

While the queens screamed in excitement about getting to walk the ball, Stacey called in the pit crew with a cart of Christmas decorations. In a twist, the queens learned that their Ice Queen Eleganza look must be entirely made from scratch using various sponsored drag supplies provided throughout the room and also the “wintery items” on the cart. Dismissing the pit crew, Stacey left the queens to scramble for icy supplies and get started.

As they started sketching and constructing, the queens discussed the pressures of designing the look that you’d potentially make it into the finale in yourself. Tension rose here and there as people snagged the fabrics and embellishments they wanted, but they kept their coo. Rita reflected on each of them being talented with their own unique and very different style as she cut foam pieces using an electric turkey knife. Priyanka, whose sewing skills were self-described as only being okay, scavenged for as many silver snowflakes as she could find to scatter across a sparkly silver corset.

Conversation turned to Jimbo’s appreciation for the fun of aprés ski parties and Priyanka admitted that she’d never actually been to one. She replied to Jimbo’s shock by asking how many POC she usually sees on the ski hill while Scarlett compared The Snow Ball to gay Christmas. Her positivity was short lived as she started to stress over her sewing machine and lack of design experience, and she eventually asked Jimbo for help. Knowing how anxious Scarlett can get, Jimbo opted to walk her through the process of making a cape, figuring it would be calmer for everyone. They had some trouble understanding each other’s counting, but Scarlett determined to give it a shot.

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Returning for the walkthrough, Stacey talked to Rita about the pressures of having won design challenges before. Rita explained her level-headed strategy of taking each challenge one at a time to keep her focus. She asked Rita if she felt surprised to be in the top four, but she didn’t, and cited that same focus again. She also told Stacey that winning would mean everything to her because not only would it be the culmination of 13 years of hard work, but it would also make her the first French speaking winner in the franchise.

On her turn, Priyanka told Stacey that she felt honoured to be part of the ball. She also admitted a touch of relief at making the top four, since her ride there had been a little rocky, with very high highs and equally low lows. Her example was the fact that she came from an improv background but fumbled the improv challenges. When Stacey asked what winning would mean to her, she reflected on how she’d left her job hosting kids’ TV to do drag full time. On top of representing POC if she won, she’d also be connecting with those same kids who used to watch her in a whole new way, this time as her most authentic self.

Emotions ran high during Scarlett’s time with Stacey. She admitted to having entered the werkroom initially with a solid plan that flew out the window almost immediately and she vowed to not hold anything back this week like she had before. She finally felt it was time to go with her gut. Stacey and Bobo also talked about the importance of inclusivity in drag, in reference to what it would mean if she won. From quite a young age, drag had been the only thing that made her feel like she was important and could take up space, so she believes it should have no limits, rules, or walls. Stacey left their meeting with a tight hug.

Finally, Stacey made her way to Jimbo, who was feeling very excited indeed. She described how the fit of her gown would hug her body and the judge’s minds. When asked if she was surprised to make top four, she confidently stated that she wasn’t. She’d come there to win and that’s precisely what she was aiming to do. They discussed her drag roots in clowning and how drag is a fantastic tool for pushing boundaries through storytelling. Before Stacey left, Jimbo asked if she’d like to help create her garment and Stacey replied “I’m a model! I wear the clothes, not make them!”

Before taking her leave, Stacey gathered the queens for some big news: their extra special guest judge for the week would be none other than longtime Rupaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage. Stacey left the queens screaming, gripping each other, and talking about how being critiqued by the iconic judge was both a fantastic opportunity and added pressure. Jimbo encouraged her sisters, who yelled about panicking and spinning out, to go ahead and slip up, which was met with shrieks of “Shady bitch!” Pressure mounted as Bobo tackled her jammed sewing machine for the rest of the afternoon but managed to keep it together.

The start of elimination day saw more excited nerves over the prospect of being judged by Michelle Visage, but also the chance to show off Canadian drag. Rita asked Priyanka if she felt stressed, and she was honest that she’d thought about how lip syncing that night would mean her third time and also probably goodbye. Reads flew as the queens decided they needed a little more work and a little less talk, dispersing to get ready.

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As Jimbo shaved Rita’s head for her, mirror talk for the week turned to home support. Rita asked Priyanka who’s rooting for her and she named her mom without hesitation. Rita replied the same about her dad, calling him her number one fan. She described his pride when he tells other people about her, and how he comes to her shows and gives her deep hugs after each one. She acknowledged that his loving, open attitude is unexpected from the CEO of a construction company, so she’s grateful to have him.

Pri asked Bobo about her supports next and Scarlett called her mom her best friend. She told the queens how Angel (that’s right; her mother’s name is literally Angel and I’m thrilled to tell you from experience that she is, in fact, an angel) had to step up to be her mom, dad, and everything in between when she was young. Scarlett got emotional as she reflected on how powerless she felt as the oldest child when her mom faced abuse at the hands of her step father and she couldn’t protect her. Angel worked hard to make her feel important, so Bobo wants to win this competition in order to take care of her mom that same way.

With misty eyes from Scarlett’s story, Pri pitched the same question to Jimbo, who took a much different route with her answer. She listed numerous Canadian cities who are all, no doubt, throwing their support behind her, amounting to at least a few thousand supporters. The queens called for a rewrite of the question and moved on to talk about ball culture instead. Rita, having been in another winter themed ball once before, was the only one of the group to have actually walked in one previously.

The cast delved into the importance of balls to queer people of colour throughout modern history, serving as celebrations in which they tried on titles like “executive” that they weren’t afforded access to in real life, since only white people were typically hired for executive jobs. They attributed most drag lingo used in the industry and on the show to being rooted in ball culture, tossing around an impressive array of examples. The mood was light until Pri picked up on Jimbo’s dissatisfaction with the way her makeup turned out, which was not according to plan. Ever the professional, however, she talked herself down from stress and forced herself to move on as the queens got their finishing touches in order.

The resident judges donned bright primary colours this week. Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman‘s royal blue velour jacket had gold chains and details at one shoulder and mirrored letters spelling “JBC” at the other. Brooke Lynn Hytes‘ bright yellow beaded fringe minidress was complemented by a very mod hairstyle and 1960s inspired makeup. Stacey greeted us in a long, bright red PVC trench with lips to match, her hair twisted in Bantu knots around her head. Finally, guest of honour Michelle Visage graced the runway in a black power suit with white fringe down the front edge, her hair straight and black and her makeup done up with her signature red lip and sharp winged liner. Michelle compared men to snow with Stacey, joked about how many inches with BLH, and was treated to more letters on the back of JBC’s jacket; when he turned, it spelled “Legendary Children”.

To kick off Executive Holiday Party realness, Jimbo revealed a structured gold sequinned suit jacket dress with huge, angular shoulders into a red, Christmas-themed lingerie set that featured a gift bow at the bust and mistletoe below. Her bra slipped down drunkenly to show her airbrushed breasts underneath. Rita wore all purple and black, with a plum updo and matching long jacket over a mini skirt. She pulled a lemon out of her bra as she strut like a strict boss. Priyanka’s skirt and jacket was made of faux grass to look like a tree, with gold tinsel trim and Christmas baubles all over. She wore a red turtleneck and Christmas lights like a necklace, waving and prancing in holiday glee. Scarlett finished the category in a 90s blonde updo and well-tailored newsprint power suit. She kicked an empty Christmas present, then used flash paper to burn her employees Christmas bonuses as she strut.

The Aprés Aprés Ski, or Icy Walk of Shame, was next. Jimbo emerged in a mint faux fur coat with a large hood, pulling it back to show a ski jacket material bodysuit underneath, accompanied by huge platform boots. Her hair and makeup looked slept in and she ate a slice of pizza. Rita shuffled down the runway in an 80s windbreaker tracksuit and ugg boots, her cropped hair on end. Her face boasted a Sharpie moustache, unibrow, and L on her forehead. Priyanka, acting still-drunk, went the “snow bunny” route, cinching a winter jacket at the waist with a giant maple leaf belt to make a dress. She wore wool socks in her pumps and a toque with a huge pom pom and she hit on JBC. Scarlett sneezed snow as she walked onstage. Her high pony was frozen in icicles at the end, as was her scarf, and her pink PVC bodysuit featured blue rubber icicles all around the shoulders, which wiggled as she stumbled home from the party.

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For the final Ice Queen Eleganza category, Jimbo donned a huge silver head piece of stacked snowflakes and icicles over long blonde hair. The piece matched her long silver gown with a split front skirt to show metallic blue underneath. The gown had spiked white detail and white fur edging. Rita wore a gown too, in white and a dusty frozen pink. She opted to forego hair in favour of a white painted head with icicles stuck around like a crown. Angular foam with frozen flowers spiked up from the bust. Priyanka’s embellished corset was packed with silver snowflakes, complemented by a silver panty. She’d built a cage skirt out the back from paper, also embellished with snowflakes to the floor. Glitter snow detail went from her makeup up into her hair and down across her shoulders. Scarlett’s cape came together, a blend of metallic silver and white fur with a hood, snowflakes, and chains. These continued into her tall, frosty blue punk hair and down across her silver bra and miniskirt.

The queens were quietly nervous in advance of critiques. Jimbo grinned as Michelle described her gold jacket as magical, praised the fit, and said it made her look like the CEO of a brothel. Stacey loved her second outfit, enjoying seeing her in a drastically different shoe than usual. Although Brooke didn’t dislike Jimbo’s Ice Queen, she felt distracted from the details because it restricted movement and the headpiece kept teetering. Michelle was confused about the pale face makeup of Jimbo’s final look and made suggestions for carrying the shade down her body for consistency.

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Moving on to Rita, JBC complimented her first character but was disappointed in the look itself because he’d expected a reveal. All agreed that it was too simple. Michelle had mixed feelings about Rita’s Aprés Ski because she adored that character too, but perhaps more in a one-woman show than as a look on a televised runway. Rita’s Ice Queen was well done, but Jeffrey was distracted by her trouble walking in it, much like Jimbo’s. Stacey admired the detailed embellishment of the foam pieces, but she recommended covering the backs too; she just saw plain foam when Rita turned. Brooke Lynn liked the dress overall, but she once again wished the fit gave Rita more of a waist. They spoke with Michelle about the perks of dramatic padding in a structured outfit that can’t be cinched, for visual balance.

Priyanka bantered with the judges when she heard how much they all loved her Christmas CEO. JBC loved the detail and felt like he knew that girl and Brooke found her holiday party personality hysterical. Their positivity got her shouting about how much she loves Christmas. With the second look, BLH appreciated Pri’s character switch and all except Jeffrey, who didn’t love it, marvelled at how she made a coat into a cute dress. Michelle liked the big maple leaf and the tinsel in her hair. She also praised Pri’s ability to really sell herself onstage like a product… except when it came to the final look. This was not a hit, and both Brooke and Michelle made their distaste for plain corsets with trinkets glued to them known. Stacey tried to counsel Pri on posture to sell the garment better, but Michelle still didn’t approve of the paper skirt at this stage in the game. The judges did, however, unanimously love her makeup, her snow detailing, and how she continued it down her shoulders.

Scarlett looked stressed but lovely when they finally reached her. She was reassured when Stacey raved about how well she brought that signature “Bobo flare” to every garment and presentation. She was complimented for the fit, style, and acting in her suit even though it wasn’t very explicitly holiday themed. Michelle was almost put off by the Icy Walk of Shame for being another bodysuit until she saw how well Bobo proportioned her curves. Her rubbery icicles elicited a whole X-rated conversation that Michelle and Brooke assumed would get censored but wasn’t. It was Bobo’s final look, however, that really took the cake. Brooke called her a “rocker whitewalker” while Michelle appreciated the alternative route she took compared to her sisters; she was just as glamorous, but with more edge. Scarlett beamed so hard through Brooke’s encouragement about her steady climb despite her questionable sewing skills that she didn’t even notice Jimbo’s side eye.

Before dismissing the queens, Jeffrey suggested they all take a moment to look back. Mimicking another semi-final tradition from across the border, he produced a large photo of Jimbo as a child and asked her what advice she’d have for young James. After getting choked up and starting again, Jimbo told her photo he is beautiful, talented, and an incredible individual. She bid him to stay strong, believe in himself, and listen when his mom says that if you have the best time, others will join you.

Stacey went next, holding a photo of young Rita and asking what she might say to little Jean-Francois. Rita told her photo to be patient and expect to have several lives, moving 20 times between parents (this made Priyanka cry). Rita told her younger self to follow his heart, remember he was born to be an artist, and have faith that things will come out smoothly.

Brooke Lynn faced Priyanka next, holding up a photo of her first day of school. Through laughter and tears, Pri told little Mark that he will have a hard time growing up because people will be mean to him, but that he should still own who he is a little faster and more unapologetically. She urged her younger self to come out earlier; in fact, he should go to school and tell his kindergartener teacher right now! She finished with “Just be gay, that’s all I have to say.” When Brooke held her gaze and didn’t move, Pri laughed and yelled “Put the picture down, Brooke Lynn!” Like the pretty shit-disturber she is, BLH amused everyone by making her squirm just a little longer before giving in.

Michelle finished the moment with Scarlett, holding up an adorable picture of Angel holding baby Matty. The moment she saw the photo, Scarlett burst into tears (which made Pri cry again too- and me, too). After gushing about how much she missed her mom, Scarlett said she’d tell young Matty that his mom is going to be his whole world. She’d say that at times, it will seem like he wants everything to end or that he could just give up but, no matter how hard it gets, he must just keep pushing. This made Michelle emotional and she poked the photo’s chubby little cheek affectionately as Jeffrey dismissed the queens to untuck.

This week’s untucked was silly and nearly reminiscent of the early American seasons. As the queens unpacked their recent emotional experience on the couches, Priyanka grabbed a couple cocktails. Rita revealed how much she hates talking about anything emotional in general, which made the photo exercise hard for her. Bobo told Pri she was a cute kid and Pri remarked that her mom had given her and her brothers all “white boy names” to avoid them being bullied in school. She said speaking to her photo reminded her once again of the kids who used to watched her host on their TVs, so it felt like a full circle moment.

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Scarlett remarked once more how special being critiqued by Michelle was, but she got worried when Rita predicted her finally getting a win; she didn’t want to get her hopes up again. Jimbo joked that she’d been waiting for Visage to tell her that she was in the wrong competition; “Canada’s most beautiful whore is being filmed in another warehouse.” It was Pri’s responding read about Jimbo’s makeup that turned things chaotic.

Doing an impression of her own angry diatribes earlier in the season, Jimbo flicked Priyanka’s paper skirt and called it hideous. She went on at length from there, yelling that the skirt was nothing but a “…paper-ass piece of shit with some bullshit glued all up on it.” Priyanka burst out laughing at each renewed onslaught about her outfit from Jimbo and chugged her drinks from their two straws at the same time. In the middle of one of Jimbo’s playful insults, Pri handed her drinks to Rita (“Hold my shit!”), got up, and started smacking Jimbo’s legs as she fell back on the couch shouting “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I don’t know what came over me!”

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As Priyanka laughed, wrestled Jimbo, and yelled “I never said I was a good design queen!”, Scarlett inquired whether she was drunk and whether she’d eaten today. Jimbo concurred, calling Priyanka wasted and pointing out that she’d just downed two cocktails without food. Priyanka- classy as they come- burped, snatched her glasses back from Rita, wiggled them, and said “Are these doubles?” before shouting after whether there was more vodka to be had. Much to the queens’ amusement, a producer’s off-camera voice informed her she was being cut off. Cameras cut to deliberation as Pri and Jimbo continued to squabble.

While the queens caused a ruckus in the werkroom, the judges conferred about what they saw on the runway. Each agreed that Jimbo’s looks didn’t compare to the high, nearly haute couture standard she’s set for herself thus far. They theorized that maybe she felt too comfortable, and this was not the time for that. Rita’s looks garnered a similarly uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm; the details were mismatched and they lacked her usual finished-looking level of polish. The judges saw areas where she’d been critiqued on the same thing several times but presented those elements again, like the fit of her gown. They did, however, all agree that they’d buy several tickets if she ever had a one-woman show.

Every judge present was charmed by Priyanka’s first look with the Christmas baubles. They loved watching her joy on stage and they praised her confidence in actually connecting with them. They also enjoyed her Walk of Shame presentation, even if it wasn’t the most polished look for a runway. It was Pri’s Ice Queen Eleganza that gave them all pause; the element of trinkets glued to a corset and the paper skirt just didn’t scream top four no matter her affability. Scarlett charmed the judges as well, but the distribution of personality to style was a little more even. They gushed about her ability to stay true to herself in any assignment and praised her edgy and unique sense of fashion, as well as the way she’s often taken a completely different direction than everyone around her on the runway.

The queens returned to the stage more subdued than they’d been in untucked. Upon finally hearing her name announced as the winner of the maxi-challenge, Scarlett practically deflated in relief and began to cry while Priyanka screamed for her. She won a 7-day trip to Vienna and fell into Pri’s arms crying and laughing as she exited the stage. After a large buildup describing the remaining three queens’ work, Priyanka was named safe. She was visibly shocked, gasping and shouting that she made it to the finale. As she joined Scarlett, she promised Michelle that she’ll never wear paper again.

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This left Jimo and Rita up for elimination. As they took deep breaths and prepared to lip sync, Scarlett and Priyanka turned to each other at the back of the stage and whisper-shouted their shock and excitement at making it this far together (“We did it, bitch!”). Jimbo and Rita each bore a calm confidence and looked ready for anything as “Closer” by Canadian musicians Tegan and Sara began.

Both queens carried that confidence into the beginning of their lip sync. They stayed quite still, each restricted by their own homemade gown, but that didn’t stop them from commanding attention. As Jimbo hiked her skirt above her knees and started to move a little more, Rita got laughs for mimicking classic drag lip sync moves despite her dress, resulting in tiny, constricted versions. Next thing we knew, Rita was pulling a pair of scissors out of her bra and cutting the bottom of her gown off. She tore the hole she’d cut open, ripped the bottom of the dress off all the way around, and stepped out of it, throwing that and the scissors aside.

Freed up for movement, Rita made better use of the stage. When Jimbo tried to match her, the tall crown that had hampered her a little on the runway started to tilt and slide, limiting her range as she reached up to hold it in place. When Rita got down on the floor and scooted towards her on her butt, Jimbo played along, first walking over her like a queen and then squatting down to straddle her. When Jimbo departed, Rita stayed down and tried to entice her back, lip syncing the words sensually while Jimbo herself turned seductive attention towards the judges. They finished with Jimbo on the floor and Rita folding her foam embellishments down but covering her nipples demurely.

Though judges and remaining contestants alike cheered hard for both queens, Rita’s fierce stage presence and comedic appeal won out for the second time. With heartfelt words from the judges, Jimbo was sashayed her way to the back of the runway quite calmly… until she got to the top. At that point, she turned back around, let out a yell of mock agony, and sunk to her knees, ending up face down with her feet in the air as everyone hollered and laughed.

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She kept things similarly hilarious in the werkroom after as well. Finishing her mirror message, she stared at herself unblinkingly in the mirror as she turned the lipstick on herself, first covering her blue lipstick, then overdrawing her lips dramatically, and eventually covering her entire lower face in red makeup. Her closing words of “Much better!” left precisely the kind of unique Jimbo impression we’ve all come to expect and adore.

Don’t forget to watch Canada’s Drag Race every Thursday at 9 pm EST! Catch it on Crave in Canada, WOW Presents Plus in the US, and BBC Three iPlayer in the UK (the next day). You can also see each week’s eliminated queen every week on Talk Aboot It with Drag Coven, with myself and Ja’mie Queen West!
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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