In June 2017, Billboard profiled drag divas from around the world, asking them to reflect on the influence of RuPaul and the popularity of Drag Race. Included among them was Mado Lamotte, the famed Montreal drag alter-ego of Luc Provost.
“[Drag Race] gave a chance to young kids all around the world to see drag as a form of art instead of only a way of living or a deviancy, like I’ve sadly heard many times in my career,” she said, reflecting on her own role in paving the way for drag culture. “It also took a little bit of individuality in some drag queens who have a tendency of copying what they see on Drag Race.”
In an interview with Xtra, Mado refers to her take on drag as “the real shit” and offers this advice to anyone thinking they can simply emulate what they see in pop culture: “If you’re not professional, if you’re not disciplined: you’re not going to last.”
Mado’s advice comes after three decades of being in the drag scene — she will celebrate her career in a retrospective at this year’s Montreal Pride. But when she first started performing, she says the community was lacking inspirational voices like hers.
Her first drag experience was in the 1980s at a convention for women in business. Set in a straight bar frequented by office workers, Mado and others donned pencil skirts and shoulder pads, mingling with unsuspecting women who couldn’t figure out why so many people looked like them, if not a little more fabulous.
Despite enjoying this first venture, she never planned to be a full-time drag performer. She was studying theatre and thought the stage was her destiny, but as a more traditional actor or comedian. Then she was offered a gig as a cigarette girl, and she never looked back. From television studios to recording booths, she has done it all (in heels, no less). And over time, her drag persona became uniquely defined.
“Mado became a real person,” she says. “Mado is more a character than a drag queen.” She describes her as a “sympathetic bitch,” which means she may read you, but she’ll do it with compassion.
With Montreal Pride approaching from Aug 10–20, 2017, Mado is busy working on her anniversary performance, putting together a show that will highlight her 30-year career as one of Montreal’s most iconic drag performers.
As queer folks from all over the world descend on the city to celebrate their particular fierté, they may be spoiled for choice, with options ranging from a headline performance by Nelly Furtado to events highlighting the city’s 375th anniversary. But according to Mado, there’s only one place to be.
“The main event is the show for my 30th anniversary.”
Tired of performing in venues with audiences that didn’t fully appreciate the artistry of drag, she decided to open Cabaret Mado 15 years ago, creating a landmark in the city’s drag scene. And it’s here that she’ll be taking the stage and joining friends to demonstrate why Montreal Pride organizers call her the queen of repartee.
It’s this sense of community that Mado thinks sets Montreal’s queer scene apart from other cities. “It’s the best in the world,” she says. “Montreal is about the people who live there.”
But what will visitors who attend her anniversary performance be subject to? She’s keeping her perfectly painted lips tight, but offers this sneak preview:
“[They] can expect Mado, Mado, Mado and Mado.”