Toronto
3 min

Waiting for guffaws

Resuscitated drag spectacle means it's Corky St Clair time

IN HERE, EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL. These are just a sampling of the 45 glamorous DQ showgirls. Credit: Susan Portner

She’s newer, brighter and has possibly had some work done – and we haven’t seen her in six long years. Can you guess? No, not Karen Black. It’s DQ. Cue the theme music!



DQ ’03 will be the sixth incarnation of the popular Casey House fundraiser. Since the inaugural DQ in 1987, this crowd-pleasing entertainment has raised almost a half a million dollars. Directed by Graham Maxwell and produced by legendary producer Marlene Smith, this year’s draganza will be bigger and more fun than ever.



The show has always been a fantabulous mix of professional performers and enthusiastic amateurs. Rest assured: Not all the character lines have been derma peeled away from DQ’s fun-loving face. The proof: Three lovely performers chosen at random out of the 45-member troupe – girl, that means eeny, meany, miny, mo! And so, in no particular order – drum role please.



Candi Barr is a veteran, not only of DQ but of other venues throughout the province. Thoroughly professional and thoroughly fun, Candi has 20 years under her rhinestone belt touring with a variety of groups, the latest being Lads ‘n Lashes. Candi is well known for performing divas such as Judy and Stevie Nicks, but she also likes to experiment with wilder types like Janis Joplin.



Growing up in a Whitby hockey family, Candi had to discover that her own abilities were not second place. “I am athletic, just more gymnastic,” she says. “And I don’t know about the, um, whatever they’re called.” Team sports? “Team sports, that’s right!”



When Candi was just a little boy, she mail-ordered a Christmas gift for her mom – a black sequined, chiffon cocktail dress. “It was Donna Reed taken too far. My mother is a country woman and it was the last thing she wanted. She never wore it, but she’s a mom, so she saved it with all the other Christmas gifts.” Candi, on the other hand, practically grew up in that dress. “I realize that I didn’t buy it for her. It was for me!”



Candi will be in several numbers, most dazzlingly in an extravaganza sung by a certain Welsh diva, Ms SB, say no more.



Coco Victory is a fledgling drag queen and DQ ’03 will be her local premiere. She is very beautiful and definitely landing on the good witch side of the rainbow. Coco declares herself “ageless” (read the wrong side of 30).



Growing up in Toronto, Coco is the youngest in a large extended family from South America. Coco’s earliest drag memory is her first test run in pumps. And run she did: Little Coco – a boy born to wear high heels – chased by dad, who was being chased by mother with her camera, while aunty stood by and laughed and laughed.



And the laughs have just kept coming over the years. A married lady celebrating nine years with just one man, Coco is a responsible gal whose feet may be in high heels but her hairdo is not in the clouds. You can spot Coco Victory running throughout DQ ’03 because she will be literally running throughout the show.



Ms King (“There’s no period after the Ms”) is a grand dame. “There are borders. There is decorum,” says the dowager. Put oh-so-carefully, Ms King is asked for her age. “Fifty-eight. I am 58. I intend to age gracefully and will admit my age. You won’t find me in a mini-skirt performing Britney Spears.”



For all her experience, Ms King is making her on-stage debut at DQ ’03. Having been put in full face make-up way back in 1979, Ms King has never performed for a formal audience.



“Well there wasn’t much opportunity for drag, growing up in New Brunswick in the ’50s and ’60s. There was a period when I was a boy when it was okay, and considered funny to dress up, but then later it becomes not so okay.”



Having lived in several major cities, Ms King has called Toronto her home for the past 20 odd years. And every Halloween, Ms King has made her annual appearance. “Everything becomes just so. So much bigger. I enjoy performing in the street. The wit just comes. And either they laugh or they don’t but who cares, they’ll never see me again after 15 minutes, and if they do, I won’t look like this.”



Ms King can be seen in three separate numbers, but watch for her in the leather number when she will be wearing a Sally Bowles/ Cabaret inspired outfit. Good heavens. Ms King, we won’t be glimpsing thigh will we?



With 11 performances, DQ ’03 opens on Thu, Apr 24 with a $100-a-ticket gala; reception to follow at Woody’s. So dust off that ballgown for a good laugh and a good cause.



DQ ’03.

$25-$50. $100 opening. $75 closing.

8pm. Thu, Apr 24-26, 28-May 3.

4pm. Sat, Apr 26 & May 3.

Hart House Theatre.

7 Hart House Circle.

(416) 978-8668.