It’s here! Tonight is the premiere of Canada’s Drag Race. Canada’s Drag Race will be premiering tonight on Crave TV at 9pm EST! In case you missed it, I’ve been spotlighting the judges and the competition all week, and you can access all of that content and more from our Drag Race main page found here

 

This past week, we’ve had a chance to learn about our three amazing judges. But Canada’s first season of Drag Race also features some badass drag talent, and I had the immense pleasure of speaking with four of them: Lemon, Kyne, Priyanka, and Jimbo.

Lemon: Rihanna meets Paris Hilton

Lemon is a bougie bitch. She is beautiful, she’s funny, and she’s also silly. According to the queen herself, “she lives in this luxurious, rich world where money doesn’t exist and she just has everything in the world to spend.” Like Rihanna and Paris Hilton had a love child, who are coincidentally, Lemon’s biggest inspirations. “They are iconic businesswomen who know exactly what they stand for and how to brand themselves. Those two girls get me through my whole life.”

Much like the other Queen of the North, Brooke Lynn Hytes, Lemon is also a professional dancer. She attended the Ailey School in New York, two years at another dance school, and then spent another year in the city for her OPT (Optional Practical Training). It was during this time that Lemon started doing drag. “I’ve always loved performing, and fashion, and hair, and make-up,” she says, “but when I moved to New York, I was so, so, so broke and dance jobs don’t really pay unfortunately.” She saw that there was a local drag competition with some prize money, and the rest was herstory. Now, drag is Lemon’s main career focus, but her dance training comes in handy a lot. 

“My dance teachers growing up were very adamant on making sure I could do everything in all styles.” It’s a skill that she carries with her during her performances. The judges want versatility and Lemon has it in spades. “I like to do something that everyone in the audience is like, ‘oh, I didn’t think she could do that’.” Her dance background also means that she’s used to having situations thrown at her and having to perform under pressure. It’s almost like she’s been prepping for Canada’s Drag Race her whole life.

In 2018, Sasha Velour herself chose Lemon to be one of the models during Sasha’s New York Fashion Week collaboration with Opening Ceremony. “I showed up and I was wearing bright yellow hair, white lingerie, and a big robe that was covered in rhinestone lemons. As soon as Sasha saw me, she started laughing.” Lemon then proceeded to keep the casting people in stitches as she paraded herself down the runway at the audition. 

She brings that same confidence to Canada’s Drag Race. It’s a confidence and surety that only years of dance training could drill into you. “Nerves don’t make any situation easier,” she says. “You just have to train yourself to realize that I’m here for a reason, this is what I love, this is what I do, and this is what I’ve worked for.”

Lemon at a Glance:

What’s your favourite song to lip-sync to?

“Watch n’ Learn” by Rihanna.

If you were a Disney princess, who would you be and why?

Lottie from Princess and the Frog. She’s a slow princess, but at the end of the day, she has her best friend’s interest at heart. It’s the most important thing to her.

What’s your biggest strength going into this competition?

My love for drag.

What’s one thing that you’re concerned about?

It’s hard to say. I mean I do trip up, but I try not to think about those concerns. I just focus on the positive.

What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?

It was from my drag mother, Jasmine Rice LaBeija. Every piece of her advice is helpful, but one time she looked at me very seriously, and she said, “as a pretty girl, when you make ugly faces and you’re not afraid to be ugly or stupid, people love to see that.” Then she paused and said, “’cause ugly girls don’t have that option.”

Kyne: The Social Media Queen

Kyne has been making YouTube makeup tutorials since the age of 15. As far as extracurriculars go, for Kyne, being a YouTube MUA is much more interesting than after school soccer. “Doing these videos gave me an excuse to buy makeup and wear it at home. Somehow, that was more of a motivation for me than just doing it for the mirror.” Fast forward to Kyne’s first year at university, where she discovered an elevated version of what he was already doing. “I was just really inspired and it was also around the same time that I was getting turned on to RuPaul’s Drag Race,” she explains. “I was like, okay this is what I need to be doing. I need to step my game up.” Clearly she did, since she’s now a contestant on the first season of Canada’s Drag Race. And what’s her aesthetic now? Disco and glitter. “I’m very inspired by Celine Dion and Diana Ross,” she says. 

When I first discovered Kyne, it was on TikTok, a project that she started during quarantine. Combining her passions of math and drag, Kyne quickly gained popularity on the app, teaching the children about statistics and math while looking like the bomb.com. “I’m really passionate about education and getting more people to be more comfortable with math and love it the way I love it.” And she really does love it. Kyne is just finishing up her final semester at the University of Waterloo as a Mathematical Finance major. “I’ve been a big math nerd my whole life,” she says. “I’m the person who’s calculating what the bill is going to be before the bill comes.” (I’m the person who needs someone like Kyne to tell me how much the tip is.) 

What’s really cool is that recently, Kyne used her knowledge of math to debunk myths and untrustworthy data floating around about US crime statistics. On TikTok and other social media, this data was being used to argue against Black Lives Matter protests. “Not only do I think people should learn math because it's beautiful, elegant and interesting, but also because math is used in this world by governments and by leaders to make decisions. It can be used to manipulate people, and everyone needs to know how to see the truth in that.”

Kyne at a Glance

What’s your favourite song to lip-sync to?

“Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan. *Starts singing*

If Kyne were a superhero, what would her superpower be and why?I would love to be able to fly. I’d get around without using cars and I’d also spy on my neighbours.

What’s your biggest strength going into this competition?

I think my biggest strength would have to be my confidence.

What’s one thing that you’re concerned about?

Maybe my sense of humor. I don't know if it really fits with the drag race universe. On my YouTube channel, I am very sarcastic, and since I'm always in control of the editing of my videos, I have built up this whole world for myself. That's something that you have to let go of.

What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?

The best piece of advice I've ever heard is that self doubt is the greatest enemy to creativity.

Watch one of Kyne’s TikToks to save you some money on your next pizza order:

@onlinekyne

Pizza problem! Btw, pineapple on pizza is superior. 🍍🍕 #math #education #edutok #drag #dragqueen

♬ original sound - onlinekyne
 

Priyanka: The People’s Queen

Priyanka started her drag career ironically hating drag queens. “I was so scared of them because the first queen I ever saw told me that I was ugly or something (like in a very Bianca Del Rio style joke). I was like oh god! They’re so mean and they hate me!” Then, when she moved to Toronto’s gay village and immersed herself in the culture, she began to appreciate drag. Soon, Priyanka was seeing shows 6 out of the 7 days of the week, and even had a drag queen perform at her birthday. That queen, Ecstasy Love, recommended that she do drag, and Priyanka never looked back.

Being in the spotlight was part of her DNA. Priyanka attended Niagara College for broadcasting. From there she interned at MTV Canada, became a production assistant on The Next Star, and eventually became one of the main anchor’s on YTV’s The Zone. “It just kind of rolled into another, but I will say that it was a lot of hard work. You have to just show people you can do it.” 

That hard work culminated with Priyanka being voted NOW Toronto’s Best Drag Entertainer in October 2019, the first year the magazine did that award. Pri remembers walking by Wellesley station and seeing a van unload magazines with her on the cover. “People validated me,” she explains. “It was like they were saying, ‘We like your drag. You make us happy.’ You just can’t ask for that, you know?” That feeling stayed with her as she walked into the Werk Room. She felt the entire city of Toronto was behind her. 

Growing up in Whitby, there weren’t many people who looked like her, and Pri wanted to change that. “When I named myself Priyanka, I wanted people like you to come out and be like, oh, this is my girl,” she says. “You could see me turn the party to an Ariana Grande song, but you can also see me turn the party to a Lata Mangeshkar song.” One time, Naomi Smalls (Season 8, All Stars 4) showed up at one of Pri’s performances and offered to introduce her. “I was like what the f-ck is happening here on this day,” she laughs. That night, Priyanka did a full Bollywood performance to the delight of the audience at The519 in Toronto. “I was just so proud to be representing that because I feel lucky to be brown.”

Priyanka at a Glance

What’s your favourite song to lip-sync to?

“Run the World” by Beyoncé.

If a movie were made about Priyanka, who would you want to cast as yourself?

Are you an actor? Can I say you? (I say no because I’m a terrible actor.) Okay, how about the guy from Lost? The Indian guy? I want him (Naveen Andrews). Or maybe Shahrukh Khan, just so we can see him in drag.

What’s your biggest strength going into this competition?

My biggest strength going into Canada’s Drag Race is that I believe in myself. I truly am my biggest fan and not in this cocky, crazy way. Just in the way that I'm like, if you believe in yourself and you think that you can do it, then you can sell it on the runway.

What’s one thing that you’re concerned about?

You can only be good at so many things. So I think that one concern I have is that I'm not good at everything. I'm really good at some things, but not everything. So, we're gonna have to see how I do in some of the challenges.

What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?

My mom’s my number one fan. She’s so cool, I love her. But the best advice she ever gave me was don’t ever think that you’re better than anyone. You’re just the best at what you do. Cause you know, drag is all about staying in your own lane and really making your lane the most successful lane it can be.

Check out Priyanka and her mom on a segment from The Zone:

Jimbo: A Queen Who Clowns Around

When I set out to do these interviews, I was adamant that I wanted some West Coast representation. Because she was from Victoria BC, I asked Jimbo what defined West Coast drag. “I think we have a lot of drive to show our art,” she says, “and maybe that’s not specific to here, but that’s just what I know about here.” 

That drive exists in her drag, and in the way she gives back to her community. Recently, the House of Jimbo became a mask factory, producing high quality, fashionable masks. Before that, Jimbo was part of a project called the Phoenix Rainbow. An impressive feat of art engineering, the sculpture travelled to community events across the world, providing inspiration. “It was about providing an experience for people without the expectation of receiving something back,” Jimbo explains.

For Jimbo, drag has always been part of her life. “I would gravitate towards the feminine and pretty and beautiful things,” she tells me. And while society’s arbitrary gender roles made Jimbo feel ashamed about this part of her, it quickly found its way back into her life when she began performing as a clown. “Clown is my gateway to performance because that’s how I understand the dynamic between the audience and performer. It’s all about truthfulness, expression, and being a conduit for joy and laughter.”

 

Jimbo actually went to clown school. Clown school has less to do with red, foam noses and more to do with the art of performance. “It teaches you to be open and to allow yourself to be seen,” Jimbo explains. “It really teaches you the beauty in vulnerability. Rather than fearing it, you own it and channel that into your performance and art.” As I talk to Jimbo, it’s clear that she knows who she is. It’s probably why she can take drag and turn it on its head.

The name Jimbo comes from childhood, a nickname for James. In many ways, Jimbo feels like an extension of James. Sometimes though, Jimbo will wear other names and styles for a performance. “One that I do is ‘Tiny Tina’, a very expressive body builder,” he shares. Like her drag, Jimbo’s aesthetic is always changing too, influenced by what’s going in the present moment. Although, there are two things that are consistent: a pinch of darkness, and a fascination with both beauty and ugliness. “I like playing with the notions of beauty and things that are gross and weird,” she says. “I like to go places for the audience so that they don’t have to. They can just sit there and say thank you for doing that because now I don’t have to.”

Jimbo at a Glance

What’s your favourite song to lip-sync to?

I Put a Spell on You” by Screaming Jay Hawkins

If Jimbo were a type of food, what food would she be and why?

I’d be a tossed salad.

What’s your biggest strength going into this competition?

My biggest strength going into Canada's Drag Race is my ability to create connections with my audience, with my peers, and with everyone I'm working with. I really love that part of it. I love the crew, and I love just the whole machine that makes it all happen. There are a lot of beautiful artists and a lot of people that really believe in drag and believe in sharing drag.

What’s one thing that you’re concerned about?

Being from a smaller drag community and also being a workaholic, I don't spend a lot of time watching things or knowing what’s going on in Canada’s drag community. So, I didn't know any of the girls coming into the competition. I was excited/nervous about who I was going to be competing against. Like who are these girls I'm going to meet and what are they bringing? It was very mysterious.

What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?

The best piece of advice I ever received is that the audience is on your side. I think a lot of people have the fear of performing because they feel like they need to earn everyone being on their side. And the truth is, everyone wants you to do well. Everyone's like, yeah, we are with you. We love you. You are beautiful. Take us there. And if you take them there, then it’s amazing.

Don’t forget to watch the first episode of Canada’s Drag Race TONIGHT on CraveTV, 9pm eastern. Let me know what you think of the first episode!