Dragging Kelowna onto the national stage with stellar drag queen performance

Okanagan theatre company's owner generates online controversy while taking the lead in RuPal's competition

  • Mon Apr 22nd, 2013 12:00pm
  • Life

Nathan Flaval

If Okanagan residents, actors and audiences alike keep hitting the “like” button, Kelowna Actor’s Studio owner Nathan Flavel will become drag queen royalty.

The company has turned its spotlight—publicity machine, fans and fellow actors—on a national drag competition to see if general manager Nathan Flavel can turn up the heat just enough to secure the top spot in OUT Television’s drag competition, RuPaul’s Drag Queen Race.

Flavel’s taped entry showcases his character, Hannah, from the Actor’s Studio’s latest production, La Cage Aux Folles, which ran from April 3-20.

The entry is in the competition’s top spot as it has received the most “like” hits, as voted on daily by online voters; however, it has not been well received by some in the competition.

“Most of these girls are professional drag queens that work very hard day-in and day-out to make a living and bring amazing entertainment to their cities—for them this wasn’t done on a lark or as a joke,” wrote Queer Canada executive director Elliott Youden on the Facebook wall of the competition site where voters have started discussing whether Flavel’s entry is fair to the other performers or whether it mocks the culture.

On the flipside, there are those who appear to participate in drag culture who don’t seem to be offended by his entry.

“People, this is bigger than the BC election! Vote everyday and keep Mz. Hannah at the top! You never know what kind of treats she will have for you when she wins. She has a big whip and knows how to use it,” wrote Oddree Mayormaynot, equity advocate.

Flavel has repsonded to the criticisms online:

“Despite the fact I am getting called out for cheating, not being pretty enough, too biker-drag and cliché with no pizazz by supporters of my competition—please DO NOT post negative comments on my competitors’ pages. I want to win this as nicely and politely as possible with my head held high. As RuPaul says: ‘All tea no shade momma.’ Thanks so much for everyone’s support. This is just humbling,” he wrote.

Rather ironically, a group of young Kelowna-based drag performers have been in the news this year making a valiant effort to develop a drag scene as the art form has not been part of the cultural milieu in the Okanagan.

Those who want to support Flavel’s entry are asked to “like” OutTV and then click the vote button to select Hannah from the list of performers.

Should Flavel win, he will receive a $2,500 trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and a good deal of publicity for Kelowna Actor’s Studio, a business he co-owns with Randy Leslie. Leslie is the artistic managing director.