Drag culture has grown tremendously throughout the years. More people are now knowledgeable about the culture and even attend live shows. A huge factor in this has been the popularity of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. People who weren’t a part of drag culture are now able to glance into the lives of drag queens and see how they get ready for shows, as well as what they go through in their day-to-day lives. On November 24, the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant hosted the Fierce and Frozen Live Drag Show, giving the Brantford community a taste of a live drag show.
If you aren’t too familiar with what a drag queen is, drag queens are performers that dress up as hyper-feminized versions of women and provide entertainment. They often sing, dance, perform comedy routines or lip synch. The Fierce and Frozen show was hosted by two queens: Ash Steeves and Brandon DesRoches, who also performed.
Brantford has a website that supports that supports the LGBT community. By hosting various events during pride month in June as well as throughout the year, the community tries to help each other through any hardship or struggle. DesRoches, whose drag name is Scarlet Revaine, believes that drag helps people be more expressive through their art and creativity.
“It was kind of a means of self-expression, but a lot of it came from my general admiration for femininity and the struggles that they go through and stigmas,” said DesRoches.
DesRoches is from Belleville, which he says has a strong LGBT community, which Brantford, by comparison, seems to lack. Ash Steeves is the only drag queen from Brantford. However, that doesn’t seem to stop the audience from enjoying the art that drag shows provide. They allow people to open their minds and see the various ways one can be creative with movement, humour, music, costumes and makeup.
“We want to bring a fun and educational aspect of drag to Brantford. I feel that there is not a lot of LGBT-friendly communities or things of the sort in the area. [W]e want to bring the beauty of drag to the community, and in doing so, I’m personally hoping to inspire others to be comfortable in their own skin, and have the confidence to do what they want to do, regardless of outward influences,” said DesRoches.
As we are in the modern age of drag culture, RuPaul has undisputedly been the most commercially successful drag queen. Due to mainstream culture and the way technology has been adapted into everyday life, there have been opportunities for broader exposure for drag queens and the LGBTQ community. The idea of a drag queen is now more accepted or understood due to this exposure. Companies have started to associate themselves with the drag culture. Some companies have started up to cater to those in need of supplies to help with their creativity. The representatives of the LGBT community on television led to greater recognition of the community as well as drag queens, and helped the public understand their art.
But the culture isn’t limited to drag queens: drag kings are included as well. Drag kings are basically the opposite of drag queens; instead of dressing up as women, they dress up as men. Taylor Lorraine Walsh is a drag king making her debut at the Fierce and Frozen show under the stage name Oliver Personas. Getting interested in drag as early as high school, Walsh wanted to showcase her creativity and slowly started to get interested in drag.
“Early on in high school I would often try to appear male in many ways, but it wasn’t the artistry you would find in drag. I only started to really incorporate my art this year… I love everything about it. The hair, makeup, costumes, performing, acting et cetera. I’m also a very animated & odd and it all just plays into my persona,” said Walsh.
Throughout the process of getting to know how to become a true king, Walsh incorporated elements of people in her life that have helped her grow, such as her father, partner, grandfather and brothers.
DesRoches, who started doing drag in 2011 in Belleville, had seen how open the community of drag was when they first started. Although their art being different the rest and coming from musical inspirations, that didn’t stop others to accept the new change. Creating a name for yourself can be difficult but drawing creative motivation from other queens.
“A lot of my inspiration has come from artists like Pink and Amy Lee of Evanescence, but my main inspirations would come from every day life and the people that I would have the privilege to perform alongside,” said DesRoches.
With such openness in the community, DesRoches feels that there are a lot more people out in the community that should be able to participate in the art and freedom to express themselves. DesRoches wants to make drag accessible for everyone who wants to become a drag queen or who wants to come to a show.
“I do feel as if drag is very undermined and overlooked in Brantford. I find that Brant County in general has kind of an avoidant eye when it comes to drag, but there are many who want to feel accepted and see their fellow queens and kings perform and be part of something that they normally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing outside of their bedrooms,” said DesRoches.
Having spent a huge chunk of his life as a drag queen, DesRoches decided it was time to hang up the wig as Scarlet Revaine after the Fierce and Frozen show. The impact that drag can have on a person is astounding. The amount of effort someone must put into a show every time they perform is phenomenal. As well as having the courage to perform onstage, drag allows one to act as an example to others.
“Due to the fact that this show will be my retirement, I’ve had to prepare myself mentally and emotionally. Drag has been a part of my life for a long time, and I’ve accomplished more than I had ever thought I would in doing so, so I’ve basically been preparing my goodbye as a drag queen and transitioning into a different kind of persona for future events,” said DesRoches.