Slap my ass and call me Sally. Toronto’s drag queens still have a few surprises to offer, if Drag Idol 4 is any indication. The annual competition at Zelda’s (542 Church St) is exactly what it sounds like — queens competing to win a best-of-the-best title, reportedly the richest in Canada at $2,500 in cash.
Surprise one. Those are real tits! Who is this newcomer Tulsi and however did she learn to make a rack look so good? Audiences this winter have debated such things over nachos and bitchslap martinis. The exuberant and oh-so-flexible first-time contestant answered the mystery one night in competition when she tore off her top to reveal real tatas. Yes, folks, there’s a tranny in this year’s contest and her rendition of Madonna’s “Hung Up” was off-the-fucking hook. I wept openly. She’s made top three and wants that mo-fo tiara but bad.
Surprise two. Experience don’t mean shit. My money was on Terri Stephens (who did a three-year tour of duty as Drag Idol’s nasty judge) going woman-to-woman with Jackae, the rarely-seen pro. Jackae was rumoured to have seen Drag Idol as a means to a dramatic comeback. I pictured a clash for the crown that would put Alexis and Krystle to shame. Nope. Calling in sick at the last minute early in the game meant Jackae was disqualified before she even got started. And a Terri Stephens standard, Reba McEntire, failed to impress audiences on impersonation night. Even though she got back into competition via a dramatic wild card the next week, Stephens’ impeccable Janis Joplin and Eartha Kitt doing disco failed to keep her in competition. That’s because….
Surprise three. Friendship can save a drowning drag queen. I love Justine Touch, I really do. But learn the damn words to the damn song. Bringing a person up to the stage with you with typed cue cards is lame-o. My cat can do better. But the house was packed with Touch-ees, which is why we saw Terri Stephens’ Janis and Eartha trounced by Justine’s weak Courtney Love and whatever-it-was-in-the-first-half-she-did. Special note must be made, though, that Touch’s early entry in the competition, a 17-minute scene study from recent Young And The Restless episodes, was utterly and completely inspired.
With Georgie Girl cast as this cycle’s bitchy judge, whipping wickedness like “breeched birth” at spent queens, and original Idol Miss Conception as host showing how it’s done, the Drag Idol series continues to be a Tuesday night winter tonic that keeps on giving.
“I think for queens who have been performing for a while, this has been a new kind of thing that encourages them to be different,” says Zelda’s Michael Swann. “The audience at Zelda’s seems to be a little different from the ones queens are used to. You can’t get away from doing the same numbers you’ve been doing for the last 20 years. The new queens have also provided competition for the old ones.”
Swann says that he’s pleased with the funds raised thus far the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation and Casey House; he anticipates a record year. Watch the wigs and sequins fly at the grand finale, Tue, Apr 4.