***Spoilers for Canada’s Drag Race below***
Move over Sansa Stark, there’s a new Queen of the North in the house. (Does anybody make Game of Thrones references anymore?) Hopefully you’re caught up on Canada’s Drag Race. It’s now been almost a week since Brooke Lynn Hytes crowned Canada’s First Ever Drag Superstar. Which means, if you don’t know who won yet, what have you been doing with your life?
This season has had its fair share of drama, both off and on screen. You’ll of course remember the fights between Ilona and Scarlett or Jimbo and Rita. But there was also tension between the fans and the judges. Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman still hasn’t reactivated his Twitter, and although he’s been posting on Instagram, the comments are limited.
Nevertheless, I think it’s fair to say that this season has been an amazing showcase of Canadian Drag. I’ve been so proud of the talent on display, and it’s been amazing to watch the queens come into their own on the show.
However, what’s made me even more proud is to be able to see a queen of colour like Priyanka win! A brown girl! From Toronto! Winning Canada’s Drag Race! Not to be all “I knew about it before it was cool,” but I first mentioned Priyanka when the show was but a mere idea. And when I spoke with her before the premiere, it was clear that Priyanka had some star quality about her.
I was lucky enough to be able to speak with Priyanka after her big win, and we chatted about everything from prize money to backstage tea from the season.
Snatching the Crown
Me: Congratulations! It probably feels amazing to win a Drag Race crown. It must feel even more amazing to win the first ever crown of a brand new franchise. What are you feeling right now?
Priyanka: Thank you so much, I did it! The feeling is like no other like the fact like it's honestly it's too much. It's too much in the best way possible. I'm so proud. Honestly, I’ve done like 47,000 interviews and every time I hang up, I’m like, “Oh right, I did win.” There’s no feeling that really justifies how grand this is.
You know when you are like a little boy in your room, dancing to the Spice Girls in front of your mirror, and you just dream that one day like you can be a Spice Girl. Now, I'm the motherf-cking Spice Girl!
Me: Where were you when you found out you had won?
Priyanka: I was at the Phoenix Concert Theater, and I had all of my close family and friends with me. But I literally saw that there's photos of me ugly crying on stage. (Prem: these photos by the way). And there’s a photo of my mom taking her moment and just facing the crowd being like, “I made this boy so you all must cheer for me.”
Me: What does it mean to you to be Canada’s First Ever Drag Superstar?
Priyanka: Oh my god! Say it again! It honestly feels so incredible, especially being someone who's a person of color. Like Canada is so accepting of people of color, and it's a really safe place for people of the LGBTQ plus community to be a part of. So I'm happy to be the leader of that. I get to be the voice for it. I get to show people that we can do it too. It's so exciting. It's truly exciting. Also, I got a really great prize!
Me: It’s truly amazing! Could you have imagined growing up and seeing someone like yourself on TV?
Priyanka: It would have been everything if I were to see someone like me on TV. Even if I got eliminated first. Even just to get the opportunity to have that platform and to be a scrawny little brown boy living her dream with her little eyelashes and her wig on. That would be so cool. I don't even think I've seen someone like me do Drag Race ever, so I get to be that person for little versions of me which is so cool. I love it. I’m happy to be that person for somebody.
Me: One of my favorite things about this season was that your final look was inspired by your culture. Why did you decide to wear that for the finale? Why did you feel like that was your “winning drag look”?
Priyanka: Well, I mean, it is the winning drag look *laughs*. But actually, it was my goal to save the Bollywood for the beginning and the ending. I wanted my promo look to be a nod to my heritage, with the dupatta, and the bindi, and the sari appliques all over the white bodysuit. But I knew people were going to expect me to do Bollywood every single week, so I wanted to turn it out and show them that I can give them all types of drag. And then at the finale, I just really wanted to hit home that I’m proud to be Canadian—it was red and white—and proud to be a West Indian person of colour doing drag on a major platform. Winner winner chicken dinner!
I wish I wore a GoPro so y'all could have seen the judges’ and the cameraman’s, and the makeup artists’ reaction. At that point in the competition, I was like, “I'm here. I made it to the finale. Whatever happens happens. I had my high highs and I had my low lows.” So you put on a costume that you packed, you walk out and everyone's like, “PARDON ME???? BOLLYWOOD VISION???” And you can just see me flowing down the runway like I'm a pretty girl. I’m beautiful. I truly, truly felt the best I've ever looked, and it's gone downhill since then.
Reflecting on the Season
Me: Let’s talk about those high highs and low lows. What was the biggest highlight for you from being on the show?
Priyanka: I think the biggest highlight is winning the girl group challenge, because you have to beat out nine other girls to win that one. Ayyyyyyy. So that was good reassurance. Also one of my other highlights was when BOA duct taped an umbrella to my head and Lemon cut out a scrap piece of metal and duct taped it to me. And then the judges were like, “WE HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE SEEN SOMETHING SO GORGEOUS.” I remember looking at Lemon like “what the f-ck is happening today?”
I remember also having to puke before I was going to go on. Lemon was trying to give BOA walking patterns to do on the runway. BOA wouldn’t listen. I'm sipping ginger ale. It was shambles. And then all of a sudden, I was hearing, “Priyanka! We have never seen you look so beautiful!” I thought I looked like the girl from The Ring.
Me: Was everything okay? Were you sick?
Priyanka: Imagine that Lemon is holding this black, scraggly, wet-ass looking wig. BOA pierces an umbrella through it, and then duct tapes around it like four times to attach to my head. Then Lemon takes the wig and puts it so that it looks like the umbrella is shooting out of the wig. And because of the pressure of the duct tape, I felt nauseous. I guess I felt so sick on the runway that I looked cold and tired and that's what they wanted so that's what they got.
Me: Wow, you really wore an outfit so hard, it made you throw up.
Priyanka: My outfit was so sickening I had to vomit.
Me: If almost throwing up on the runway wasn’t a lowlight, what was?
Priyanka: I think a low was seeing Lemon go home because she didn't deserve to go home so early. It’s good because she was one of my top competitors so like get out bitch, I don’t need you here. But I think it was hard seeing someone that I called a friend go home because it just sucks. Each week I was like “Bye Bitch. Bye Bitch.” But for Lemon, I was expecting a double save. And then the judges start saying, “Lemon, you brought all the juice in the world…” and I'm behind like, “Wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait no no no no no no no no.” That was definitely a lowlight.
Me: What's one of the biggest lessons that you learned during your time on Drag Race?
Priyanka: The biggest lesson I learned is that I'm the best at what I do, but not better than anybody else. My mom told me that before I left for the show and it really came to fruition. For example, when we got to the final three. It could have gone any way, you know? Like it could go anywhere. It could have honestly been anyone's crown. I think that's the main lesson too. Just because someone's talented doesn't mean you’re less talented. Which is good because Canadian Drag is beautiful.
Me: Speaking of, let’s talk about your competition. In your opinion, what was the best and worst looks of the whole season?
Priyanka: Okay, here we go. I’m not including myself cause the best look of the entire season and the last five seasons of drag race is my finale look. So note that down.
But I would say the best look of my season would have to be… this is a hard one. I would say Jimbo’s facekini but his face was covered so....*cackles* No, the best look of the entire season is Jimbo’s entrance look. If it wasn't for that look, Jimbo wouldn’t have catapulted into the stardom that he got. It was a perfect look with the perfect personality and the perfect amount of, like, clownery to really make Jimbo such a star of our season.
And then the worst luck would be Lemon’s Celine Dion look. *Laughs* Like that dress is a reason the Titanic sunk, for sure.
Me: I love how you said that her going home was like a low light, but then you also just read her to filth right now.
Priyanka: But that's the fun of it too, right? We’re each other's fiercest competition so it's so easy for me to say that. I think we all just understand where each other is coming from. So, if someone's being a raging bitch, we know why because we’ve been that raging bitch before.
Me: Speaking of raging bitches, do you have any piping hot tea that you're allowed to share with me from the season?
Priyanka: Let me think. Let me think. Let me think. Let me think. Let me think. Let me think. What’s some piping hot tea that I could tell the press press press? Honestly, everything already happens on camera. That's the problem. I honestly have nothing! The cameras are always rolling. Y'all got a good edit of Canada’s Drag Race. You got the good drama.
Me: What about the whole Lemon-Rita thing from the puppet show?
Priyanka: Oh! Rita's weird crush on Lemon? Honestly, it kind of came out of nowhere. All of a sudden, Rita was like, “my boyfriend Lemon” and I was like, “am I missing something here?” Mind you, I had eyes for Jimbo the entire time so I was in a whole other world. I was trying to give him some Boyanka, but I don't think anything happened. Unless they're hiding it from all of us which I love. Could you imagine if we didn't know that they were hooking up the whole time? The drama!!
Me: Exactly! You know, your confessionals were something that I lived for every week.
Priyanka: Thank you! The reason why I was delivering so hard in the confessionals is because I was so happy to finally be myself as Mark and Priyanka in one place. That's where the energy came from. I was just so proud to not be talking about Spongebob Squarepants and actually talk about things I care about. It was such a moment of full circleness for me.
Me: You mentioned on the show that you hadn’t come out to your dad. If you’re comfortable talking about it, how has Drag Race affected your personal life?
Priyanka: It’s so cool that everything is just out on the table, and I don't have to hide from my dad that I'm Priyanka. I went home on Sunday, and they cracked open a bottle of champagne. He hugged me, said congratulations. He's still processing all of it, and I’m giving him his time. Our parents are humans too and they process things differently. What I'm not going to do is stop. I'm going to keep doing drag and keep being proud of who I am. Educate him. Educate this man who came from Guyana when he was 21 to Canada, and still has all these demons in his head about boys dressing up as girls. Just keep him as the proud dad he is.
Me: I'm so happy to hear that.
Priyanka: I feel great. I feel so great. Canada’s Drag Race is therapy for me, and I love it.
Looking to the Future
Me: So what’s next for Priyanka, now that she has this crown?
Priyanka: I'm going to buy a farm. Get a horse. Just live on a farm forever. Just kidding. I want to take a three day vacation, and on my vacation, I want to plan my world domination. Also, I'm going on a tour with Voss events and World of Wonder for Drive-in Drag hosted by Brooklyn Heights with Rita Baga, Scarlett Bobo, and me Priyanka with rotating cast members in Calgary, Saskatchewan, Montreal, and Toronto! So touring is what’s happening next. Drag Race gives you an audience, and it's now time for you to go and perform “I Drove All Night” 6000 times to them.
Me: And what are you going to do with your winnings?
Priyanka: I am going to buy me a husband. No, I’m kidding. I haven’t even thought about it! A hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money, so I gotta sit down and think about it for a second.
Me: How about if you had to blow it all in one day? What would you spend it on?
Priyanka: Oh my god! I would like, I don't know, live in a mansion for the day and just have all my best friends there and feed them all the countless amounts of food and alcohol and strippers and drag queens and just f-ckin’ party. You’re invited.
Me: Aww, thanks! (I’m including this in the article so that it’s on record by the way).
Priyanka: Realistically, I would never do that because my mom would literally kick my ass if I spent all that money. I think the smart adult thing to do is invest it. That's what I should do.
Me: Probably, but that’s way less fun, right? My last question for you Priyanka is now that you wear the crown on your head, what does that mean to you moving forward in terms of your role as a Drag leader?
Priyanka: What’s actually wild is that I'm going to be a voice. I'm going to speak up about issues and concerns and stick up for people who have been bullied and really push for acceptance. But just being the brown Guyanese boy that grew up in Canada and who won the first ever season of Canada's Drag Race is the political statement, all in itself. Because now, anyone can get any job they want to as long as they work hard for it. I am proof of that. If I can do it, you can do it.
You can catch Priyanka on the Canada’s Drag Race Live at the Drive-In Tour starting next weekend on September 18th. Visit the event page for tickets and more details.