This interview contains spoilers.
From the moment Canada’s creepiest cryptid, Yovska, was announced as a cast member on the third season of Dragula, they were immediately pegged as a fan favourite.
Dragula, the OutTV competition created and hosted by drag queens Dracmorda and Swanthula Boulet (known collectively as The Boulet Brothers), is a reality competition to crown the next drag “supermonster.”
On TV, Toronto drag performer Yovska let their freak flame burn bright, but just three episodes into their run on the show, they faced a fatal “extermination” (Dragula’s term for elimination). “Having gone home so early, I was worried I’d be forgotten,” they say. “As excited as I was, I was like, ‘Oh, shit. I’m going to disappoint everyone.’ It didn’t end up happening like that. People still responded well to what I did and are hoping to see more of me—and I think that’s really cool.”
As the season comes to a close, Xtra spoke to Dragula’s first Canadian contestant about their plans for Halloween, the politics of drag culture and their new status as a Toronto Kiki ballroom legend.
How has your life changed since filming the show?
It’s been really weird. When I went on the plane to go to Dragula, that was my first time flying in, like, 15 years. Now I’ve been flying around and doing performances in different cities. I ended up quitting my part-time job and I’ve been focusing on drag full-time.
The week you went home, the Boulet Brothers didn’t clock your Japanese-rock (J-rock) references. Fans pointed out they had a similar problem with Erika Klash in Season 2. Do you think the Boulets have a blind spot for non-Western pop culture?
For the Monsters of Rock challenge, my vision got a bit muddled. I had my idea, but then I started to think, “Everyone’s doing more Westernized references.” I had this idea of doing a Malice Mizer, baby blue, jester-y style. Then I panicked and thought I should make it more Westernized, so I took it in more of a KISS direction. It ended up being some bastard child of both.
Some of my references are a little obscure. Erika Klash’s references were clear—I remember Sailor Moon, Mega Man. When you’re on Dragula, they’re looking for a specific theme and it can be hard to show something where all the judges get the references. It’s tricky.
In terms of gender, Dragula’s Season 3 cast is the most inclusive we’ve seen yet on a drag TV show. What was that like to be part of?
It’s really awesome. It was revolutionary to see a drag king, an AFAB (assigned female at birth) performer and non-binary performers. It was a really diverse cast. I made friends there for a lifetime and became really close with Hollow Eve in particular. It’s been so great that they’ve had this platform to showcase their work. As well as for me to showcase my work, which would normally not make it on a drag TV show because it’s so outside the box.
In the past, you’ve described your drag character as a “shapeshifting genderless inter-dimensional entity.” On Dragula you took on female pronouns. Was that a conscious decision?
No, I never really stated what pronouns I use. I’m cool with whatever. Naturally, first impressions might give off more of a “she” vibe. And I’m cool with that; I wear a lot of heels and stuff with my character. For me, it wasn’t an issue at all. I never said that I wanted to be referred to in a particular way. I’m sure if I did, they would have followed suit.
My character is supposed to be genderless. I like to play a lot with gender; sometimes I like to be more feminine, sometimes more masculine. It really varies for me.
In drag culture, kings don’t get as much attention as queens, but Landon Cider won. What does it mean for a drag king to win, when so many competitions crown drag queens?
Landon was very vocal that he doesn’t want to be tokenized or for people to say they should win because they’re a drag king. When we were asked who should win in the reunion, I had that in mind. I didn’t want Landon to win because he’s a drag king, but it’s an amazing plus.
Landon was such a professional during the entire season. Everyone was very hardworking, but I think Landon, with all the experience he has, he’s very level headed. He kept cool the entire competition. He served amazing looks. To have someone like that win and also be a drag king in a world where drag kings are seen as lesser compared to drag queens, it’s a big f-you to all those people who said a drag king on television wouldn’t be interesting.
Hollow Eve started a conversation on the show about how it’s misogynist to use the word “fish” to describe a very feminine drag performer. What’s your take on the word?
As someone who is not AFAB, I don’t think I have any spot to say whether I find that word offensive. That’s up to whoever has those body parts to decide if it’s offensive to them. Hollow Eve brought up a really good point and I think they educated everyone in terms of how the word is seen by people who do have [a vagina].
I thought it was really awesome they were able to have that conversation on TV. That’s something I respect. I don’t use the word fish personally because I know it offends some people.
Hollow Eve’s a non-binary AFAB artist and spoke about how AFAB people are treated in queer spaces. What changes does the drag world need to make in terms of how it approaches gender?
Mainstream drag has been dominated by gay men. Now that we have more visibility, I think it’s time for us to keep moving forward and showcase [diverse] performers. We have to learn and grow and understand there’s more to drag than just gay men dressing up as women. There’s a diversity that’s been around [drag culture] for a long time.
People have to be a bit more understanding. A bit more accepting and receptive. I think it’s happening over time and hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.
You come from Toronto’s ballroom scene, where you’re known for competing in the Bizarre category. What did being part of that community teach you as an artist?
I owe a lot of where I am now to the ballroom scene. It helped me grow as a character; that’s where a lot of the early ideas for my character came from. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t done that. It taught me how to work with other people. That’s how you improve—working with other people and learning from them.
Recently I got named a Toronto Kiki ballroom legend–one of 13. That’s definitely an honour.
Congratulations! What’s the name of your house?
I’m part of the Kiki House of Siriano. It’s a Kiki house headed by Twysted Siriano. Twysted is an amazing voguer, mentor and voice for the community. It’s really great to be part of a family. We have a bunch of performers who are artists outside of the ballroom scene, singers and dancers.
Drag Race Canada is about to start production. What do you hope to see on the show?
Definitely some of my friends. I’m really excited to see the diversity of Canadian drag. I’m not as familiar with drag in other cities, so that’s going to be really exciting for me to see. I’m excited to see who from Toronto makes it. Maybe they’ll also have a variety of performers; maybe AFAB or non-binary performers. That would be exciting to see.
Can you imagine yourself on Drag Race?
Who knows? It’s one of those things every drag performer thinks about. It would be really interesting to see Yovska lip syncing for their life. But right now my mind’s on wanting to keep pushing my brand forward and working on my own projects.
Which Canadian drag monsters do you hope to see on a future season of Dragula?
I would love to see one of The Diet Ghosts. I’m not sure if they’d do it, but they’d be amazing. They’re a talented bunch. Maybe Lucinda Miu or Lady Kunterpunt. Any of them would do amazing because they all have something to offer. Jacklynne Hyde is someone who has a history in the Toronto scene being an alternative performer. And Seyoncé has had a big interest in Dragula. It would be interesting to see how they would translate their special effects makeup into the competition.
What are your plans for Halloween?
I’m going to be super busy over the next week, performing almost every day. My goal is to not die and to get a little bit of sleep at least. Halloween isn’t going to be party mode for me. But it’s Halloween for me 24/7 anyway, every day of the week, every day of the month, every day of the year.