At last month’s Club Kylie night at Fly drag prankster Donnarama festooned herself with LED lights to perform her own spin on Ms Minogue’s robotic dance moves. It was an appropriately futuristic look for a performer looking ahead to 2009 as a year that “will be about redefining” drag in Toronto.
“I want to go places we’ve never been and do things inventive and unseen, to bring us back to art,” says Donnarama. Toronto queens “need to step it up” if they hope to bring back the standard set by local legends like Danny Love, Christopher Peterson and Craig Russell, a “great tradition of drag and performance.”
Fay Slift, who recently rocked the Beaver’s Hot Nuts party with her cheerfully deranged riff on Katy Perry, is more than up to that challenge.
“I have spent the past year taking each performance like it was an extravagant performance piece,” she says. “I like irony in my stuff. I plan on going bigger, bolder and always larger.”
“I think what’s lacking from drag is the fact that people aren’t working hard or paying their dues, earning their right to be on the stage,” says Donnarama.
Slift, however, loves the enthusiasm of the new kids coming up. “Keep your heart in,” she says. “Never buy the hype and fuck the ego.”
“I enjoy many of the new talents out there and look forward to seeing them grow,” says Amanda Roberts.
After more than 16 years of doing drag she too plans to raise the bar this year.
“I hope to push myself more with singing live,” she says.
Miss Conception throws down a challenge of her own. With the just-announced fall 2009 premiere of the Mirvish production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Miss C hopes to transition from doing Broadway numbers at Woody’s every Sunday to getting a part in a real stage show.
“You have to sing, dance in heels and do your own makeup,” she says. “So there’s not a lot of queens out there!”
With Priscilla on the way, “We are entering a new era… as performers,” says Donnarama. “It’s in our hands to showcase it.”
But, she warns, the effort needs to be matched by Toronto’s notoriously applause-shy audiences.
“Is that too intense?” she asks. “I sound like Joan of Arc! We all know what happened to her sorry ass!”