Fight for the Crown

Alberta’s Next Drag Superstar Start its 2020 Search

By Andy Trussler

     It isn’t just love in the air this February. It’s thick with glitter, fog, Céline Dion, and the unmistakable haze of drag. February 21st is the first of three preliminary rounds in the search for Alberta’s Next Drag Superstar, and Evolution Wonderlounge is alight.

         The gay night club is bursting with queens in six-inch heels, party goers swathed in silk and resplendent wigs. Everyone has a drink in hand, many have two or more. ANDS is an event anticipated year-round.

Evolution Wonderlounge packed wall to wall for ANDS first round (Source: Andy Trussler).

Night one’s competitors are Miss Steak, Imani, Bambi Dextrous, Jennie Talia, Evelyn Nox, Gemma Nye, Vanity Fair, Mac U More, and Pheromone Killz. These kings, queens, and performers in between have rehearsed their routines for weeks in anticipation. 

         The competition hosts three preliminary nights, all taking place on Fridays, starting at 9 pm. The premiere sold out, with eager patrons watching from anywhere they can fit. A number of audience members have come in support of a particular performer, with fan clubs forming in tight huddles in the front row.

        Gemma Nye, otherwise Aberdeen Hill, is the final queen on the ticket. Hill’s fan club is comprised of more than a dozen devoted drag fans. Elliot Konkin is among them, an avid devotee, and the one who brought Hill to his first show in 2018. 

“I take partial credit for Gemma’s success,” Konkin jokes, “But seriously, he’s one of the most impressive artists I’ve ever met. I’m so grateful.”

Hill’s sci-fi performance was set to Femmebot by Charlie XCX, partnered with a CD breastplate, puppet strings, and a towering sky-blue hair piece. His outfit was handmade in Frances May’s living room, who themselves tailor a number of drag outfits across Edmonton.

Hill’s climb to drag stardom was hardly an easy hike. He is often told his drag is not feminine enough, which is a poignant reminder for the trans star. 

“Advancing or winning ANDS is representing drag that’s not tied to any specific gender presentation — I don’t pad or wear boobs — and I’m not trying to look female,” Hill explains, “it would be a huge win for trans folks, and cements our place in the drag community.”

Hill’s upcoming semi-final performance is a well-kept secret but will surely continue to reflect Hill’s queer and trans identity. His specific aesthetic choices act as metaphors for trans narrative, growth, and transformation.

Hill will be advancing alongside Huge Miss Steak, Vanity Fair, Mac U More, and Pheromone Killz. 

Levi Osler is a local drag performer, a queen named Sapphoria. Sapphoria’s outfits toy the line between school-girl and satanism, accompanied with a candy floss wig and heart shaped makeup. 

Osler has watched Hill’s drag journey unfold since the beginning. 

“I was the one who booked Deen in his first show and his growth is absolutely incredible!” Osler beams, “his stage presence and visuals have gotten so good! He has such a creative mind and I’m just so proud.” 

Come see Gemma Nye and her four co-competitors perform semifinals at Evolution Wonderlounge on March 20th. General admission sits at $10, with tickets available on the event’s Facebook page

The remaining night of preliminary play takes place on March 6.  

Patrons on either night are encouraged to stay after the competition to dance, drink, and mingle with drag artists. 

Quick Twitter posts highlighting many performances are available here: (1), (2), (3), (4), (5).

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