Brought to media attention and pop cultural relevance in the last ten years with the hit TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag culture has become much more accessible and influential. This is definitely evident in the Fredericton drag community, with an ever-growing number of performers. Based on interviews with nine local drag performers, this article seeks to highlight some of the people behind the makeup.
At first glance, it's likely you would underestimate the extent of Fredericton’s drag scene. In reality, drag culture in the small city has developed into a growing, diverse and positive space. There are over 20 drag performers who perform on a regular basis, (which earns you the title of royal), and multiple locations that host a variety of events, including Boom, Klub Khrome, the Cap and the Fredericton Public Library.
“We have so much drag here, and not only is it a lot of drag, it’s a lot of diverse drag,” said Freeda Whales, who works and performs at the Cap and has been highly involved in fostering the drag community in Fredericton over the past three years.
Though RuPaul’s Drag Race has launched drag culture into the public sphere, most of the Fredericton performers echoed the sentiment that the reality tv show only represents a small part of drag culture. “When you go to your local clubs to support your local drag queens and drag kings and drag performers, you’re really seeing the versatility and wide range of performances that are under the drag umbrella,” said Roxie Champagne.
In truth, the spectrum of drag is vast—and includes drag kings and genderbending performers who are too often left out of mainstream drag culture. Fredericton has many drag kings who perform regularly, including a newly formed group The Hex Brothers. They are composed of Coal Drynn, Danger Damien Dixon, and Ace Spade. Coal Drynn explained that drag kings can be ignored because they often are not based in the feminine glamour of mainstream drag.
But as Venom Devine puts it, “Your drag is your creation; there are no rules in drag.” One of the longest performing Queens in Fredericton, Venom has worked to expand the scene through work with Fredericton Pride and has been very influential in advocating for spaces for drag culture in the city.
There are multiple different drag families (collectives) in Fredericton, including the Phun House who perform at the Cap, the Sugar Babes who perform at Khrome and the Boom performers. While the community is not entirely cohesive, the established drag performers stressed the need to keep the space welcoming.
“We want to keep it positive and fun and to entertain people,” said Heather Silk, a member of Phun House. She explained that the community is too small to allow much animosity, and that keeping things positive is also important to give newer performers a good platform and experience.
The drag scene is not only a space to entertain, however. Events led by local drag performers have raised both awareness for social issues as well as money for programs in the Fredericton community. Bottomless bingo, which happens at the Cap, has raised over $10,000 for local non-profits, and drag performers have also fundraised money for the Save Clinic 554 campaign.
As well, even though most performers interviewed explained that they liked to keep politics out of their performances in order to provide an escape from political stress, for themselves and the audience, Freeda Whales explained that, “whether we want it to or not, every time you get into drag you’re making a political statement.”
The drag community in Fredericton features a wide array of performers. Some have been doing it for 10+ years, while others have only started in the past year. There are drag queens and drag kings, performers who are trans and non-binary, performers of different sexualities, performers who dance and performers who do comedy.
The one thing most performers have in common is their love for drag and how their drag is an act of self care. It offers a creative space for self expression that many did not have growing up. Miss Amour Love, a host at Boom, put it quite nicely:
“In my life I’ve always been told you need to be a little quieter, you need to be a little softer, you need to be more masculine, you need to be something else that you're not. And I’d always been struggling to fit into that niche. So finally, I found a profession that tells me to amp it up and that I’m not loud enough, I’m not dramatic enough, and that I can be more.”
To experience the drag scene in Fredericton, check out the regular performances at the Cap, Boom and Khrome, as well as Drag Storytime at the Fredericton library for a child-friendly space. There is also Drag Out Your Party, a company run by the Phun House where you can book drag performers for entertainment, Drag 101 at Enigma Clinic and Spa with Venom Devine and Miss Amour Love, and the newly started drag DJs Divas on Deck with Roxie Champagne and Sasha Stratus.
Time in drag: 7 months
3 words to describe you: charming, hyper, a-little-bit-bashful
Drag advice: “You don’t need to know a lot of knowledge, that will come.”
Time in drag: 2 years
3 words to describe you: energetic, animated, encouraging
Drag advice: “Go in without any expectations, go in with your heart, go in with your soul, and let everything else reap its benefits.”
Time in drag: 7 months
3 words to describe you: creepy serial killer
Drag advice: “Support your local kings and queens and remember that gender is a social construct.”
Damion Danger Dixon
Time in drag: 7 months
3 words to describe you: no warning needed
Drag advice: “Definitely go for it. It can really build confidence so explore yourself and don’t be afraid to fail.”
Time in drag: 4 years
3 words to describe you: slippery when wet
Drag advice: “Don’t try to pigeonhole yourself or identify yourself as something that’s going to prevent you from experiencing the wide range of what drag can be.”
Time in drag: 10 years
3 words to describe you: Wow, she’s wasted
Drag advice: “Just do it, don’t give a damn about what you look like.”
Time in drag: 8 years
3 words to describe you: fatal, fierce, flawless
Drag advice: “If you’re gonna do this, you’re gonna have to do it for yourself.”
Time in drag: 1 year
3 words to describe you: Davie Bowie, Lady Gaga, and Dolly Parton
Drag Advice: “You can be anything you want up on stage.”
Time in drag: 2 years
3 words to describe you: 100% stratus-faction guaranteed
Drag advice: “Make sure you’re doing drag for your own reasons, not because it is a trend right now within our society.”
Time in drag: 16 years
3 words to describe you: Powerful, extraverted, sure
Drag Advice: “Don’t let what you see on television, or things like that, influence what you are going to do in your drag” and “learn your history of drag.”