Dustin Dufault (left) performs under the stage name Ella Lamoureux (second below) and works for MAC Cosmetics when not in school. His friend

Kelowna drag queens heating up the mid-winter arts scene

Winter can be such a drag…Thankfully, that's got a great connotation for these queens of creativity

  • Jan. 17, 2013 8:00 p.m.

When it comes to talking about drag in the Okanagan, muscle cars and a long strip of asphalt are usually involved.

But there’s an elegant, uproarious and intelligent group of performers taking the stage at UBCO’s The Well Student Pub this weekend who are out to expand the area’s vocabulary.

The Embodiment Drag Show, one of the first drag shows in the Okanagan, at least in recent memory, is designed to attract the straight community, the gay community, those who love comedy, performance theatre, music and an opportunity to see the world (and one’s self) in a new light.

“It’s about being yourself, publicly and openly,” said Dustin Dufault, a third year social work student co-hosting the event with master of fine arts student Shannon Lester.

Fittingly, as this is the Okanagan, the two dashing young men met on a beach.

Dufault, who moved to Kelowna to be with his fiancé, was introduced to Lester, who returned to the Okanagan for grad school having completing his bachelor of fine arts at UBCO, through a friend who knew they were both interested in drag.

Dufault had tried dressing up once and took his transformation to the hilt.

“I just went way overboard. Spent way too much money,” he said, noting he bought a dress, makeup, heels, jewelry, “the works” for the event.

Sasha ZamolodehikovaFor Lester, the drag scene, though non-existent in Kelowna, was old hat. While living in Japan, where he taught English for six years, he set up his own drag performance art collective with a friend from Australia and the group amassed members from all over the world.

Performing under the stage name Sasha Zamolodchikova—Dufault’s stage name is Ella Lamoureux—his work challenges conceptions of gender identity in a dark, dramatic performance quite contrary to Dufault’s light, glitz and glamour approach.

Both love to perform and both love to try on a different side of themselves. Dufault has even become a makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics on the side, often donning a little rouge and a touch of shadow to boost his day-to-day look.

Kelowna has not had a drag scene like other bigger communities, so the pair say they’re excited to introduce the art form to anyone who wants to be entertained.

“Some people might have the stereotypical image of a drag queen being bitchy and girly and dancing around on stage to Britney Spears, but there’s a lot more diversity to drag performances,” said Lester.

The performers also aren’t necessarily gay or interested in dressing as the opposite sex in day-to-day life.

“Everybody thinks that we want to be women, but we don’t,” said Dufault. “I love my masculine side, but every once in a while, I kind of, you know, want to try something different.”

Their first show was at Flashbacks and Dufault staged a drag contest last summer, after deciding that a full pageant, which operates with the same stringent rules and criteria as any other beauty pageant, was a little too much work.

Ella LamoureuxSince then, they’ve attracted a significant amount of attention bringing in performers from Vernon like Leesa Resch, or Lethal Leesa to those who follow roller derby; she will be performing as ‘drag king’ Eddie Zero. Former Vernon resident Curtis Volkle, Angel Di Avolo, will also perform and the evening will have two masters of ceremonies: UBCO professors Constance Crompton, who has performed in drag, and Karis Shearer, who will make her drag debut.

For Lester, the evening is also a bit of research. Now in the last six months of his master’s degree, he’s focusing on painting and performance and is doing research on gender identity.

For Dufault, it’s an opportunity to continue developing a great hobby that just might lead to something bigger. After The Well performance, they’re hoping to stage another show downtown, possibly returning to Flashbacks.

“We’ve had some comments: ‘Oh you’re brave to do drag in Kelowna,’ but so far it’s been very positive, very well received,” said Lester.

“We’re just really confident,” added Dufault. “We go out and we get dressed and promote the shows and have fun with it. If you see a seven-foot tall woman coming down the street toward you, you’ll know it’s us.”

The Embodiment Drag Show runs 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. this Friday, Jan. 18.

Joining Sasha and Ella on stage will be Eddie Zero and the Scissor-Me-Timbers, Randy Robbo, Angel Di Avolo, Cissy Avarice and Sparkle. Everyone is welcome to come in drag with prizes for the best transformation. Admission is $5 and the show starts at 10 p.m.

Just Posted

Keeping pets safe at Christmas

This time of year presents a lot of possible health hazards for our pets

West Kelowna to stick with regional transportation planning

City council votes to rescind its move to leave regional planning body

Vehicle fire in Kelowna quarry

A vehicle in a Stewart Road quarry burned Thursday morning.

Crash snarls commuter traffic in West Kelowna

One was injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon.

Vernon at centre of rail trails convergence

More local development input sought for Okanagan and North Okanagan/Shuswap rail trails

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Disney buying part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4B deal

Disney is buying a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion

Bountiful polygamist believed he couldn’t be prosecuted: lawyer

Winston Blackmore’s lawyer says Blackmore did not believe he could be prosecuted

Woman charged after altercation injured baby in Toronto

Charges have been laid after a four-month-old baby girl was critically injured in Toronto

Anderson extends invitation to Liberal voters

Interim B.C. Conservative party leader invites “disenfranchised Liberal voters” to join his party

Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil announces retirement

Veteran Ottawa Senators forward Chris Neil spent 15 seasons with the NHL team

Trudeau’s office confirms staffer being probed over allegations

PMO confirms staffer being probed over allegations of reported “inappropriate behaviour.”

Police kill gunman north of Toronto

Police shot and killed a gunman during a hostage situation at a bank north of Toronto

#MeToo at work: B.C. women share horrifyingly common sexual assaults

It happens to more people than you might think and impacts women inside and outside of the workplace

Most Read