I began writing this column 12 years ago. Pounding out paragraph after paragraph on my clunky black Macintosh laptop and seeing my words in print every two weeks gave me publication pride. When bloggers began to enter my world, I gave them the cold shoulder. But things change. And if one does not adapt to change, growth becomes death. The same can be said of Toronto’s vogue balls. One of the first I ever covered was the Hugs & Kisses Kiki Ball in 2011. Back then I wrote, “‘Eyes, skin, teeth, structure, face. G’Zelle. Polaris.’ These are the chants I hear upon entering the Hugs & Kisses Kiki Ball held at the 519 Community Centre.” The ball has since grown and changed. With a bigger space and better awards come fiercer battles. Back then there was no stage; you created your own catwalk in the midst of a cheering, sometimes jeering, crowd. Tonight’s event is hosted by House of Monroe and House of Nuance, and Mother TKO Monroe Hall acts as commentator. He doesn’t mince words when it comes to chopping those who do not meet the criteria of the individual competitions. Up for grabs tonight are bragging rights; hand-blown, bubble-shaped glass trophies; and cash prizes for such categories as Bizarre, Realness, Face, Fag Out (complete with bubbles on the runway), Hairography, BQUIP, Glitterati and Performance. I arrive late but am visually rewarded, as the Sex Siren competition is in full swing, with DJ John Caffery providing musical inspiration. Tensions build when one contestant is chopped for not showing enough skin, while a group in front of me debates the definition of the category: “You can be sexy without being naked and showing skin,” one defender gripes. Perhaps, I think to myself, but I’m glad competitors like Tito do. It gives me something to write about on my iPhone and delicious pics to post on Instagram.
FML: Farewell to Brooke Lynn Mon, Jan 26 at Flash
Deep Dish began 12 years ago in fab magazine. Piecing together memories of my nights and seeing these escapades published every two weeks gave me publication pride. To me, paper was currency, and without coin you were nothing. But the currency changed, and fab ceased operation. The same can be said of drag performance (in Canada at least). Back when I started, we still had one- and two-dollar bills, and it was perfectly normal to slip deuce after deuce into the padded bra of your favourite draglette as she pretended to belt out your favourite song. To make more coin, though, you sometimes have to change things up. This is what Brooke Lynn Hytes is doing. When I first reported on her just two years ago, I wrote, “Once. Twice. Three times a lady. At this year’s Woody’s Czarina contest, Brooke Lynn Hytes wins her third crown in three months. Is there no stopping her?” After winning almost every title and crown (the ultimate drag currency), she is making the move to the US (Nashville, to be specific), where the drag pageant system is almost as serious as presidential elections. Tonight, in a neon yellow catsuit, she performs her final show at Flash’s Monday night FML party, part of her weeklong booking of farewell shows. Her dance training is evident as I capture the moment and post it to Vine. Farewell paper; I’ll see you all online.
Brooke Lynn Hytes
Adrian & Julian
Kaya, Eve & Ryan