The sexy and much sought after Dukes of Drag can’t bear to turn anyone down. So this year, Montreal’s premiere drag king troupe is holding its popular, annual Meow Mix show over two nights.
Trying to pack all the gender-fuck fun into just one show “was getting a little ridiculous,” says Jack E Dickinson, a co-founding member of the troupe.
Performance artist Val Desjardins hosts the fourth edition of the show, “Nespi… n’est-ce pas?”
“If people are curious and want to find out what that means,” Dickinson says, “they can always find out by coming to the show!”
XTRA: Tell us about the two different nights.
JACK E DICKINSON: Saturday is the regular Meow Mix format, the thing everybody’s familiar with. You go, you watch the show, you have 20 million sweaty dykes dancing. For Friday, we decided to go with a bit of a different format. It’s the same show, except that there’s going to be an intermission, and somewhat of a meet-and-greet in the sense that you will be greeted by the Dukes when you come in, and there will be Dukes circulating. You can have a drink with us after the show. People can come up on stage on Friday and take pictures with us after the show if they want, stuff like that. It’s a bit more of an up-close-and-personal with the Dukes ambience on Friday. And there’s going to be a surprise guest on Friday!
XTRA: How did the Dukes’ relationship with Meow Mix come about?
DICKINSON: Back when we were still in our embryonic stage, when we weren’t really a troupe yet, there were just a few of us that were just starting to make connections and work on some acts together. When Miriam [Ginestier, Meow Mix’s creator] started to see us going at it, she goes, “Do you think you can round up enough drag kings to put together a full Meow Mix just of drag kings?” To be honest with you, I wasn’t sure that that was actually doable, but I was like, “Yeah!” It was so successful that first year that the second year we asked to do it again. Then after that, it wasn’t a question in anybody’s mind that the February Meow Mix was starting a tradition.
XTRA: What’s new in “Nespi… n’est-ce pas?”
DICKINSON: It’s all new acts. But what hasn’t changed is that we’re always trying to be innovative. We really want people to come to our shows and not know what to expect. We never want to get to the point where people are like, “Oh, it’s just another Dukes show, it’s just going to be the same.”
We have a brand-spanking-new member called Bing Cherry and it’s his first time doing drag. We have a couple people who were with us last year (Topper and Clement Dally) that were doing backup roles and now they’re getting their own acts. It’s always really fun for us to see people who kind of start small, and they come in and do some support roles and see what we’re like, and see if they jive with us, and then they do and they stick around and they take on their own acts.
There is Lorena/Lorenzo who is back for a second year, also leading a number this year and Lex Valentine who is back in several supporting roles. The rest is the usual suspects: Bo Stallion, Ian Poe Kerr, Jack E Dickinson, Mitch Mitcham and Rod Screwheart. And of course, Nat King Pole will be joining us as well.
XTRA: What do people need to know about The Dukes of Drag?
DICKINSON: We really like feedback! People should not be shy to come and talk to us after a show. We’ve all noticed that we walk around and people look at us like they’re kind of smiling at us but they look like they’re too shy to approach us and say hi. We’re all super approachable and we really like it when people come to talk to us, even if it’s not about the show. People should not be shy! We just like to hang out with people and have a good time.
Hang out with the Dukes in an intimate cabaret on Fri, Feb 19 or for the full Meow Mix on Sat, Feb 20. La Sala Rosa, 4848 St Laurent. Doors 9:30pm, show 10:30pm, $10. See dukesofdrag.com for more.