Friday, February 3, 2023

Hamilton Queens Take The Spotlight And Make City Shine

It’s been a year since Beyond James sat down with Hamilton drag royalty Kasha Czech and Karma Kameleon to learn all about the city’s growing queen scene, and twelve months later it’s safe to say the local world of drag has blossomed into something new.

We’ve reached a time when pandemic restrictions feel, for better or worse, like a hazy memory, and many folks are looking to add a bit of light back into their lives. So just what happens when you give Queer artists a spotlight? Turns out, they’ll make a city shine.

“I think [drag is] a fun time out that, especially with inflation right now, is more affordable than a concert from your favourite artist,” says Kasha Czech. “We’ll do their favourite songs, and more outfit changes too!”

But drag, it seems, is more than artistic expression or a fun night out; it’s a growing family that connects the Queer community and the city at large. When local queen Hexe Noire faced protests for her inclusivity-focused Drag Storytime event at the Terryberry library in November, the Hamilton community showed up in droves to show their support, filling the library to capacity for the event and offering protection in case dissenters got out of hand.

“Hamilton isn’t just supporting drag by going to shows,” says Kasha. “They’re supporting and embracing drag by supporting our artists, whether it’s inside or outside of a performance venue, against wrongful hate directed at our artists.” 

This spirit of inclusivity has opened the door for newcomers like Qlorox, who began her drag journey only a year ago.

Qlorox.

“I started experimenting with makeup towards the end of 2021 because I was in burnout with the other art forms I was partaking in like drawing and music,” says Qlorox. “Making my face a canvas was a very invigorating experience because I could feel everything sitting on my skin. I went to one Karma Kameleon’s Total Request Live nights in drag. I wasn’t expecting to perform at all, I just wanted to be seen in public in drag. At the end of the night Karma and Calypso Cosmic insisted that I should do a number. I wasn’t really prepared but I managed to perform to ‘Maneater’ by Nelly Futardo. The tips and applause I received definitely pushed my desire to keep doing drag so I’m very grateful.”

Qlorox’s drag style is unconventional in an already unconventional medium, with influences from goth and kink aesthetics, and “anything that would make a Karen gasp and clutch their pearls.” With the city’s recent introduction of The Well, a dedicated Queer space where Qlorox and other burgeoning and established kings and queens often perform, it seems there’s never been a better time to take risks and try drag in the Hamilton area.

“I ended up moving cities and then consistently started being booked more or given more opportunities in Hamilton and the surrounding region,” says Kasha. “I think one of the happiest changes is seeing Binbrook Pride pop up. Being from that area, and being able to fully be myself in my hometown, and see hundreds of people come out to support, truly a dream.  And now I’m on the committee!”

For Qlorox, the drag reign has only just begun, with goals of enhanced performance skills and eventually TV and original music in her ideal future. And for the city of Hamilton too, with its growing love and support for the world of drag, it seems we’re still only at the start of a reign of drag royalty; a reign that sees community and inclusion sitting high on the throne.

Maxie Dara
Maxie Dara
Maxie is a freelance writer, journalist and award-winning playwright based in Hamilton with a love of theatre and decidedly too many cats.

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