Local gay bar Flamingo is lifting the skirt on Ottawa’s queen scene. The hip club, recently dubbed one of the most colourful additions to the city by the Ottawa Citizen, is hosting its spinoff of RuPaul’s Drag Race throughout the month of February.
What started as a national promotion for Drag Race’s fourth season, spearheaded by OUTtv, has now become a way to showcase Ottawa’s most fabulous female impersonators.
Xtra chatted with Flamingo’s general manager, Sebastien Provost, to learn more about the competition and to hear his view on what it takes to be Ottawa’s Next Drag Superstar.
Xtra: This whole thing started as a promotional event, then quickly turned into something more. What was the driving factor to start such a contest?
Sebastien Provost: When Flamingo opened we tried several different concepts for weekly drag shows. For one reason or another they never worked, so we made a conscious decision to stop having drag until we could launch something that was both meaningful and sustainable. We wanted to take this promo a step further and make it about helping develop our local drag queens and bridging the gap that we see in this community. What was meant to be a two-night competition has grown into a movement. Also, we have always striven to be cutting edge, and a partnership with OUTtv and RuPaul’s Drag Race was a natural fit.
What are your thoughts on having [RuPaul’s Drag Race runner-up] Manila Luzon as a guest judge?
When I think about what drag is really supposed to be, I think Manila embodies those qualities perfectly. Her talent and commitment to the art of female impersonation is simply spectacular, and we are thrilled to be working with such an iconic drag trendsetter.
What does it take to be a superstar drag queen?
A superstar will be a double or triple threat and incorporate singing or acting. You should be able to make costumes, be a pro at makeup, and stage makeup in particular. They need to have a solid understanding of all facets of production and they need to commit to the art.
What are you hoping to achieve through this competition?
Already we are breaking down barriers within the community. When I was growing up and doing drag in Toronto, I had many, many role models that I looked up to. I learned some of the most important lessons and drag secrets from such iconic Canadian drag legends as Stephanie Stevens, Dale Barnet and Rusty Ryan, just to name a few. I think that if we can share this knowledge and mentor our own community, then we will have done something really special. Our hope, when all of this is said and done, is to have been able to help unite the local drag community and continue our work to help it grow.
Do you have any words of advice for the fabulous contestants?
My advice would be to think outside the box and get out of your comfort zone. I firmly believe that to become great, you must take risks and try new things. With this frame of mind, only then will you be able to grow.