Toronto drag queenRobyn DeCradle has transplanted herself to Ottawa. And she’s notching up the quality of drag available locally.
While most local drag queens simply lip synch to music (albeit, often in fun and sometimes powerful performances), DeCradle goes the extra mile. Her twice weekly shows at The Edge use props and elaborate costumes. And she’s playful.
DeCradle incorporates fake breasts that squirt water onto the audience, a giant inflatable penis and a nun’s habit into her shows.
“As long as I’m entertained, I know the audience will be as well,” DeCradle laughs.
DeCradle, who’s boy name is Jeff Martin, has been performing for almost six years. DeCradle’s roommate was a drag queen and he encouraged DeCradle to give it a shot.
“It’s given me freedom of expression; that’s something I’ve never had before,” DeCradle says. “Drag lets you do whatever you want. It’s fun and it’s interesting.”
Then there’s the matter of a name. Robyn DeCradle was not the first choice: Gloria Hole was. But then she thought better of it.
DeCradle’s performances are so interesting that she’s recently been invited to perform at Mado’s in Montreal, and when she performed in Toronto last month she won the title of Ms Grolsch.
Decradle’s other titles include Ms Plaything, Ms Canada World, Ms Gay Universe, Ms Woody’s and Ms Baileys.
When DeCradle competed in Ms Gay Universe, she represented India as a nod to her mother’s Indian heritage.
“I just told my mom about me doing drag six months ago,” she says. “She was upset that she missed the first four-and-a-half years. She was crying the whole time.”
The Edge bartender Mofo says the differences between our drag scene and other cities is very noticeable.
“Her talent is something different in Ottawa. It’s something we’re not used to. Ottawa queens don’t come out with big head pieces,” Mofo says. “With all her costumes, props and dance moves, it’s like introducing something new to Ottawa. You can get sick of watching drag shows, but you don’t get sick of Robyn because she’s got something new every week.”
DeCradle’s creativity has even prompted competition. Established Ottawa queen Julia Coco Mango sings her praises.
“I think Robyn is one of the best things to happen to Ottawa. She has talent and the look for a performer or a female impersonator. As a performer I give her 10 out of 10,” Mango says.
Meanwhile, Toronto drag personas say they miss DeCradle. Empress Candice says her warm smile left an impression.
“Her sweetness and humor came through right away,” Candice says. “She’s missed by everyone; she made everyone smile.”