“It touches me a lot to see so many people. I was worried it would be too early, but we’re used to staying up late! », jubilant Rita Baga as people lined up to speak to her.
A parade of some 75 drag artists on a Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. at the Palais des congrès? With a happy mix of families, groups of friends and ardent admirers with flamboyant looks?
If it was impossible to be there in a bad mood, the fact remains that it was an unthinkable event 35 years ago, when Michel Dorion entered a competition for what we called at the time transvestites or , at best, personifiers. “Things are changing,” says the man who founded the first Quebec agency specializing in drag artists.
We were expecting 1500 people on Saturday and even more on Sunday.
“Thank you for your continued support of our community,” Rita Baga told the crowd after the opening fashion show where local and international stars like Miss Butterfly, Lolita Banana, Icesis Couture and Drag Couenne walked a long pink carpet.
Rita Baga and Michel Dorion have dreamed for several years that Montreal would present a “DragCon” like in Los Angeles and London. “Having participated, what I like is meeting the public,” explains Rita Baga. Drag artists work in places limited to an audience and it is often in the evening. Here, it’s accessible to everyone, and people can discover the whole variety of drag. There are drag kings, drag creatures, gender benders…”
Such an event would have been illegal in the state of Tennessee if the famous law banning drag shows outside of adult cabarets had not been blocked by a judge. For Rita Baga, this “disguised transphobic law” is of course disturbing. However, if drag culture is so talked about and has detractors, it is a sign that it is becoming more and more popular and accessible, in particular thanks to the TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race and all those who have follow up.
Another example closer to us, in Quebec: the day when people demonstrated on the South Shore in front of the library where the drag queen Barbada was to give story time to children, Mona de Grenoble won the third season of reality show Celebrity Big Brother.
“Drag has never sold so many show tickets. I’m at 50,000,” says the woman who was entrusted with the show La drag en moi. Michel Dorion is at the heart of the reality documentary L’Agence, presented on Moi et Cie, where we present behind the scenes of his agency Midor. In other words, drag is now part of mainstream culture.
Looking at the line that formed in front of Ra’Jah O’Hara’s stand, a real star system was also created. “I shake,” said Mylène Guindon. “It’s impressive to see it in real life,” added her friend Joannie Daviau.
Last December, Ra’Jah O’Hara was crowned the grand winner of Canada’s Drag Race – Canada vs the World in Montreal, ahead of Rita Baga among the finalists. Since then, a strong bond has been created between the American and the Quebecer. “When Rita calls me for an event, I always say yes! »
In addition to the big show that was presented on Saturday evening, a Drag Gala will take place on Sunday evening. Véronique Cloutier, Varda Étienne, Caroline Néron, Joe Bocan, Mathieu Dufour and Richardson Zéphir will be at the festive awards ceremony. “I sent out the address book and they all said yes. It’s fantastic. They all do this voluntarily,” underlines Rita Baga.
During the day, the workshops and conferences scheduled during the Rendez-vous de la drag continue. If we reveal hair and makeup secrets, we also promote tolerance and equal rights.
As Rita Baga says so well, the voices of drag artists are “plural”. “But our message remains the same,” emphasizes Ra’Jah O’Hara. A message of love and acceptance. »