Drag Yourself Off the Couch And See a Real Life Queen

East Vancouver’s only weekly drag show is inviting an international drag queen to witness the city’s vibrant scene

July 3, 2018

By Becca Clarkson

In a drag show survival guide, David Cutting offers a caveat early on in the article: “I am here to make these shows more accessible, as I feel that Drag in this city deserves more admiration and recognition at large.”

In the year since writing the guide David “Dust” Cutting created Commercial Drag, east Vancouver’s only weekly drag show—an event that will host its first international queen, Stacy Layne Matthews on July 8.

If the sound of a tongue click following a falsetto question of “OKrrrrrr?” is unfamiliar to your ears, you’re probably not familiar with RuPaul’s Drag Race—the reality T.V. show Matthews competed on in hopes of becoming “America’s next drag superstar.”

The iconic queen RuPaul has hosted ten seasons and counting, which means Matthew’s season three drag family first graced screens…“Eleven years ago, henny,” Matthews says over the phone, using the verbiage the North Carolina queen is renowned for. A member of the Lumbee tribe, she was proudly the first Indigenous drag race contestant.

While she may have placed 8th in her season’s lineup, Matthews was Dust’s first pick when it came time to book an international queen for Commercial Drag, which recently moved from The Penny on Commercial Drive to Main Street’s London Pub. Dust gave Matthews three options for the event’s name and because “Skinny Legends” made the plus-size queen giggle, that title was the winner.

“Stacy is in a sense someone that represents my motives as a drag performer in the city—vulnerable, authentic, gentle sweetness,” says Dust.

Matthews came out as transgender after her appearance on season three, which many regard as the season that entered the show into the mainstream.“My season, we were real and raw, but now I think it’s become a little bit what people want to see versus letting things happen naturally,” Matthews says. “I think it’s okay but I don’t want people to think that all drag is like RuPaul’s drag race. There’s so much more out there that people haven’t experienced.”

Both her and Dust expressed concern over how people are experiencing drag through T.V. but not seeking out local shows. “I look at the RuPaul situation and I think to myself: They’ve given us this great gift of the exposure of drag but what they don’t have now is that connection to the local community,” says Dust who formerly hosted The Sleep Girls Show in Kitsilano. “That’s why it’s important to decentralize shows. They create the opportunity for people to experience drag.”

Matthews will also share the stage with several local performers, including her self-proclaimed biggest fan, Kebby, on July 8.

“An esteemed legacy of season three isn’t someone the conventional promoters are going to bring in, but Dust is all about exploring the different avenues there are to drag,” says Kebby, who describes Matthews as a “sweet angel underdog.”

Kebby says Vancouver is an island when it comes to the world of drag, and that a lack of visiting performers means people aren’t able to see the vibrancy of its drag world. “I think it will be great for someone outside that to see what types of drag develop here.”

Another performer, Rose Butch, says Vancouver’s drag scene “very alive.” “There are so many different styles: Glam drag, camp drag, horror shock drag, different bodies and gender presentation,” says Butch, who says they feel a kinship to Matthews because of their shared transgender experience.

But for Dust, it doesn’t matter how you identify or what you perform—the modus operandi behind Commercial Drag is just to have fun with friends.

“I have friends who are trans and people of colour, but that’s not what defines them. How we mend a bridge after a fight or what it looks like when we’re having fun together does. We’re people. We need to take a step back from slapping labels on things and just say, ‘people do drag.’”

Though they’ve only talked over the phone, Dust already feels Matthews is a friend and has plans to take her to Juke’s for fried chicken during her three-day visit. Dust says she’s excited to get to know the performers, all of whom she started following on Instagram, and recommends anyone to do the same if they’re new to the local live drag show scene. “Find local performers, reach out, talk to them, start that communication. It can be scary, but it’s just social media and local queens love to interact with people.”

Tickets to Skinny Legends can be purchased here.

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