Don’t be a Drag, Just be a Queen: Canada’s a Drag comes to Newfoundland

If you find yourself downtown on a weekend night looking for something fun to do, there is a good chance you will find a funky drag performance happening at any number of bars on George Street. The St. John’s drag scene has boomed within the past few years, making way for new drag houses, new families, and new performers, all strutting their stuff and expressing their art.

This past year alone, St. John’s has had events such as “Queen of the Night” judged by Mary Walsh and Lady Bunny, and of course, Drag Idol. Along with weekly viewings of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which features performances by Queens and Kings all ranging in experience levels, there is no doubt that the demand and interest for drag in St. John’s is high. So much so, the television show Canada’s a Drag second season will feature Newfoundland’s own Irma Gerd.

Photo credit: Maddie Mills Photo

Photo credit: Maddie Mills Photo

Irma Gerd is no stranger to the St. John’s drag scene, being one of the most seasoned queens in town. She is mother to the Phlegm Fatales, runs Tongue in Chic promotions, and hosts RuPaul’s Drag Race viewings every Friday at Treble Lounge.

Born in Newfoundland, Gerd started her drag journey while living in Toronto. “When I moved to Toronto I became friends with a lot of people who did drag, and eventually fell into it myself,” she said. “When I moved back to Newfoundland I missed that part of my life and decided to make it happen.” And did she ever. Gerd, along with all other drag performers make it happen every week, practicing their art, and pushing the walls down around gender and sexuality.

Behind the episode of Canada’s A Drag is Lian Morrison, a local St. John’s filmmaker and videographer. Morrison, after completing her education in Prague, came home to start Tin Bird Productions and is now working here in Newfoundland. This episode of Canada’s A Drag will be Morrison’s third documentary, and she is thrilled to be able to tell this unique story to the world.

Photo credit: Maddie Mills Photo

Photo credit: Maddie Mills Photo

“For me, documentaries are the best way to connect different people in a way they may have never been connected,” she said. “You can watch a documentary and it can make you empathize, laugh or cry with someone that you may never actually meet in person.” Morrison reminds us that “these are real people and not actors.” By telling this story, not only is it normalizing drag, it is normalizing the fluidity of identity.

The Racket got a chance to ask Gerd and Morrison a few questions about their experience while filming this episode, and both were very confident in the finished product. “I was extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to be the first person in Newfoundland to shoot an episode for this show,” said Morrison.

Irma Gerd will be the first queen from Newfoundland to be featured on this show, showing that this program will truly reach from coast to coast. “I think once it comes out I'll be more emotional. It's weird seeing hype for something that you were involved in, but even weirder when it's about you,” said Gerd. “I like to pretend I'm a celebrity, but this is actually making me feel like one. I think it’s pretty crazy to know that other drag performers across Canada will know who I am.”

Photo credit: Maddie Mills Photo

Photo credit: Maddie Mills Photo

As we so often hear, Newfoundland is filled with talent in all aspects of the arts, and drag is emerging as a huge part of that. By being able to show the rest of Canada the talent we have in Newfoundland, it allows our drag community to have more opportunities and more growth. It also normalizes fluidity within sexuality and gender, exposing the creativity within your own identity.

“It’s about acceptance, expression, and celebration of people of all types and genders,” said Morrison. She also spoke of the importance of drag when it comes to changing the underlying prejudice found in many people. “I think this is important for Newfoundland because we have unfortunately had some pretty sad displays of prejudice here this past year so it’s just putting that message out there that people are doing this regardless and they are happier and better because of it.”

It’s time that being yourself is celebrated, not demonized is being celebrated. So whether you’re a drag fan or a newcomer to the scene, this show is the perfect place to start. Irma Gerd puts it plainly; “Canada's A Drag shows Canadian performers of all kinds, pageant queens, comedy queens, art weirdos, drag kings and all types in between“.

All season two episodes of Canada’s A Drag will be available online on February 13. If you want to see Irma Gerd live, there will be a screening on the 15 at Treble Lounge. All are welcome.