While there’s no Canadian version of RuPaul’s Drag Race, CBC Arts has produced Canada’s a Drag, a new series of short documentaries that sent out filmmakers from communities across Canada to profile a group of drag performers — both kings and queens.
The series began a few weeks ago with Toronto’s Allysin Chaynes followed by Edmonton’s Lourdes the Merry Virgin, Winnipeg with Prairie Sky, Montreal with both Tranie Tronic and Guizo La Nuit, Vancouver with Berlin Stiller, Halifax with Elle Noir and then back to Toronto with Gay Jesus and Sofonda Cox.
I recently got a chance to chat with Vancouver’s Berlin Stiller (who’s episode airs tonight) about the exposure, the power of drag and how its impacted the acclaimed drag queen’s life.
The Randy Report: In that RuPaul’s Drag Race has brought so much attention (and acclaim) to the drag community, do you feel the show has helped the drag community in Canada as well?
Berlin Stiller: RuPaul has definitely had its influence in helping the drag scene at least here in Vancouver.
When I first left home and joined our fabulous gay village, we had really just a handful of queens I can remember.
As the show carried on and its popularity grew, we’ve seen a drag baby boom. Every year you can count on a new crop of barely legal gurls stomping into the clubs, serving it bigger and better than before. We have so much talent in our city and I feel as though Drag Race has played a big part in allowing others to feel confident and comfortable expressing themselves through the art of drag.
TRR: Why do you think there hasn’t been a Canadian version of Drag Race yet?
BS: That’s honestly hard to say. I don’t think there has been much of a platform (on an international level) for drag queens in Canada. I know there are many queens eagerly waiting in hopes of a Canadian spin off. However, I think Canada has a mark to make in Drag culture and when it does, maybe Ru will notice us over here.
TRR: You represent Vancouver in the new CBC series Canada’s A Drag. How was the experience shooting your episode? Have you seen your episode yet?
BS: The experience was honestly nerve wracking. The interview for me was the hardest. I speak about my personal struggles with my family not accepting me as well as my own personal acceptance. My journey into the drag community and my personal struggles with Alcohol and drugs.
I haven’t seen the episode yet but I’m looking forward to seeing it on Friday when it’s released. I’m nervous for my story to be out there in the open for the world. I was pretty open with what I had to say in my interview and fingers crossed, it’s received well.
TRR: Drag brings together so many facets of performing: acting, movement, comedy, fashion and makeup design. What would you like audiences to know about the art of drag?
BS: Drag has so much power, it’s art. It can give you a powerful platform to express what you are feeling, light up people lives, share artistry and to explore your own self.
I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had the opportunity discover myself and grow into the person I am today. Drag has done that for me and can do so or does for so many other people.
It’s not just about looks and beauty – Drag is an overall expression. For me acting, movement, comedy etc, are all smaller facets that help and compliment the deeper meaning of drag and complete the final art piece.
Berlin’s final piece of advice? “Just get through high school and everything will be so much easier. And don’t shave your eye brows off.”
Canada’s a Drag runs every Friday on CBC Arts.
Watch Berlin’s episode of Canada’s A Drag below. You can follow Berlin on Facebook here.