Toronto
3 min

Dogs or bitches

Who's in charge of the street?

LET LOOSE. Stephanie Stevens says someone's got to clean up after the hounds of love. Credit: Dean Tomlinson

Spring, with its smell of fresh flowers, fresh grass and freshly unthawed dog waste, is finally here.



It’s the season where people come out to show off their new pooch and Church Street’s cruising potential makes it destination number one.



But the terrain has already been claimed by another kind of bitch; there are more drag queens per square heel here than in the entire population of Prince Edward Island.



Dog walks and queens out walking seem like a dangerous mix, since there’s nothing worse than looking glamorous and stepping into a pile of it. Is there any middle ground – between the piles of doggy doo, that is?



“There’s room for everybody as long as dogs know their position,” says Stephanie Stevens, one of the strip’s drag divas. She’s a producer of the Miss Toronto Continental Pageant, a regular host at Zipperz and a non-dog owner. She says that drag queens and dogs can coexist. But somebody’s got to make the four-legged creatures submit – nothing should interfere with the relationship a drag queen has with her stilettos.



“We need lots of strutting space,” she says. “A queen wants to be seen.”



Stevens says it upsets her when owners allow their dogs to pooh on the sidewalk and don’t pick up after their pets.



“It’s disgusting and it’s not a proper place,” she says. “Dog owners should be taking responsibility for their dogs and make sure they pooh in the right places.”



Stevens has never stepped in a pile. If it ever happened she’d be mad as hell.



“I would probably throw out the heels or figure out some way to take a hose to them,” she laughs.



While some dog owners let their pets run free, others are more considerate.



“My dogs love drag queens,” says Moe Boss. He owns two dogs, a border collie mix and an alsatian mix, and is seen routinely walking his boys. He says dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets should be fined.



There are fines, and they range from $255 to $5,000. Fiona Venedam, a supervisor with the city’s animal services department, says the city doesn’t keep numbers on people fined for not picking up after their pets, but she says the number is small.



“Animal services only charges viewed incidents,” she says. That is, viewed by their own staff. Which isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of dumping going on.



“This time of year we do start to receive more stoop and scoop complaints,” Venedam says.



Boss hasn’t seen a drag queen step in a pile, but says he would quickly run to her aid.



“I’d probably laugh. I’d probably help her,” he says.



No dog owner questioned would admit to not picking up after his or her pet. But some doo obviously gets by. Owners might run out of poop bags, or overlook an unexpected bowel movement.



Max, a 125-lb German rottweiler, is a big dog, who probably has big bodily functions and a tendency to mark his territory. He sits contently next to his master Paul Cherryman in front of PJ Mellon’s. Has Cherryman every witnessed a drag queen step in dog pooh?



“No, but I’ve seen one eat dog pooh,” he says, citing Divine’s performance in John Waters’ 1972 cult classic, Pink Flamingos.



If he ever did witnessed such a thing, he’d applaud her for an outstanding performance.



Virginia Richmond, drag queen and host of the popular window show at Bar 501, used to own a dog, but doesn’t anymore. She admits that dogs are sweet, but controlling where they go can sometimes be difficult.



“There’s got to be someone there picking up after them,” she says.



Richmond has experienced what many Church St heel wearers dread. It happened on the way to a drag show.



“I let out a nellie scream and shrugged my shoulders and went, ‘Ohhhhh, pooh,’ washed them off and carried on,” Richmond says.



Felicia and drag partner Amanda, from the drag trio The Freaks, both joke that there are some drag queens who resemble dogs. Amanda’s never stepped in a mess, but admits to leaving a few messes behind herself – though never on the street.



“I prefer to puke in a bar or restaurant,” she says.



After some hesitation, Felicia recalls a misstep from her past: “It’s nasty, it’s nasty.”



Call it dogma or dragma, this is a one-way battle. Drag queens might find themselves unexpectedly in pet pooh, but dog owners will never accidentally end up in drag queen shoes.