Known for his caramel smooth voice and hilariously raunchy song parodies, Nat King Pole is making a name for himself in Montreal’s drag community. Nat was recently voted fourth best drag act in the Mirror’s annual Best of Montreal Readers’ Poll, and is the subject of NKP, an upcoming mini-documentary at Image+Nation.
Nathalie Theoret, the woman behind Nat King Pole, got into drag kinging after giving up hockey, which had been a major focus in her life. “Something was missing,” she says. Nat decided to return to singing, which she had done in her early twenties. When she realized that she’d need a hook to perform at Meow Mix, the monthly lesbian cabaret and dance party, she racked her brain to come up with something unique.
“People used to call my place to see what was on my answering machine because I used to do all these puns and parodies. And I thought, I could do that with songs. They just come at me out of the blue.” Nat wrote a song parody, slapped on a mustache, and Nat King Pole was born.
After performing all over Montreal, as well as in Quebec and Ottawa, Nat was noticed by film collective Epher Heilland, who asked her to take part in a one-minute documentary.
“I say yes to everything, pretty much,” Nat says. “I figured, one minute. What’s one minute?”
The process wasn’t quite as simple as she thought it would be, however. “At one point we’re in the bathroom and there’s five guys in there. It took about four or five hours to do a one minute documentary!”
Nat assumed she’d never see the finished product on the big screen. She knew it was making the film festival rounds, even showing in Brazil, but she was surprised to find out it would play at Image+Nation.
“Oh my God!” she thought. “People who know me are actually gonna see this?
“There’s one particular shot where the camera’s underneath and there’s my gut, hanging out. We all have body parts we’re not too thrilled about. I’m putting duct tape on my boobs and stuff, and the camera adds ten pounds.” She laughs. “And cellulite, it seems!”
Not only did Nat never expect to see Nat King Pole on the big screen, she never expected drag kinging to be as popular as it is in Montreal.
“I thought, I’m going to strike while it’s hot, because this is going to phase out within a year or two. And it’s just the opposite. It’s getting bigger and bigger. I can not write fast enough.”
Nat has become a mentor for many drag kings on the scene. Nat’s main advice to up-and-coming kings is to find a hook, beyond just lip-synching.
“Drag queens have been doing it forever and they have very flamboyant costumes and that’s what keeps it interesting. But drag kings can’t rely on costumes much. So you really have to do something interesting and different to get people’s attention.”
When Nat’s on stage, the crowd takes notice. She doesn’t like to do the same song more than three times. “We’re not that big a community. I always wanna be fresh, fresh, fresh.”
Fresh and funny. “I’m a closet comedian,” she says. “I’ve been trying to incorporate some comedy. It gives more dimension to the persona of Nat King Pole. So I’m talking to women, like, ‘Get your Sham Wow panties on, girls, ’cause this is gonna make you wet!'”
While Nat aims to please the ladies, Nat King Pole has a variety of fans. Trans women are the ones that “Go ga-ga,” she says, waiting for her after shows and asking for autographs.
“One woman came up to me and said, ‘Oh my husband loves you!’ I was like, ‘Your husband? That’s nice, but that’s not why I got into this business!’
“I was surprised by how many straight people get into it. Here I was thinking it was just a very narrow thing. I’m making you look bad, guys!” Nat jokes.
Ever humble, Nat’s not sure why Nat King Pole is such a hit among diverse audiences. “I really don’t get it, but I think it’s because I’m non-threatening. They can see that I’m just having fun and I’m not trying to make a political statement.”
Nat has a message for all of Nat King Pole’s fans. “I always want to thank everybody that comes to the shows,” she says. “I’m doing something I really like, it’s super fun, and if they don’t come, I don’t get to do it. I’m overwhelmed with the support that people have given me.”
NKP plays on Oct 27 and 28. For show times, see Image-nation.org. Contact Nat at firstname.lastname@example.org.