“I have my bags packed and I have the motivation,” says BOA. “I wanna do it all.” The Toronto-based entertainer, who rose to fame on the inaugural season of Canada’s Drag Race, has just launched her debut single, Gettin’ It Done, a Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani-inspired bitch track with cheerleading chants and an infectious, relentless dance beat. Now, more than ever, BOA is determined to conquer all corners of the industry and solidify her status as one of Canada’s supreme entertainers.
But – and you know what we’re gonna say, don’t cha? – COVID. While past contestants in the Drag Race franchise were able to showcase their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent on the show and tours, where they meet fans from around the world at conventions such as DragCon, BOA (among several others) hasn’t been afforded the same luxury.
“Normally with Drag Race, you’ll have a good year of work, work, work, meeting fans and making tons of money,” BOA explains. “You can finance all of these amazing costumes and do the music videos and shit. But right now, I’m feeling this pressure to keep myself relevant, come up with content and constantly post on Instagram and Twitter. It’s weird because it’s all work and no play.”
Here, BOA speaks with GAY TIMES about life post-Drag Race, her recent engagement and sobriety, and how the drag art-form will continue to flourish in adverse circumstances – even during a global mothertucking pandemic.
Hi BOA! First of all, condragulations on your engagement!
The video of your proposal provided us some with much-needed positivity last year.
It was really sweet. We were always like, ‘Let’s just get engaged,’ and we never actually did it. So me and Ilona Verley were at the Eaton Centre in Toronto and I was like, ‘I want to look at rings!’ Then we walked in with eyeliner under our eyes from the night before, she’s got tattoos all over her face and the lady looked at us like, ‘What are these crackheads doing in here?’ I then bought two rings and thought of doing something really romantic. I didn’t wanna just take him on a dinner and do it in front of an audience. We have this Van Gogh visual exhibit in Toronto right now, so I took him there and it was great.
How do you even plan to propose to someone? It’s all so alien to me!
That’s what I was thinking! I was like, ‘This is weird. This is different. This isn’t me prepping for a pageant or a big show or something. I got to be cool about it and I have to plan secretly and hope he says yes!’
Thank god he did!
I know right? He’d be crazy not to.
Condragulations are also in order for your sobriety. I saw you celebrate 21 months on Twitter, right?
I think so! It feels like 31 months but…
How has your sobriety impacted your drag?
Well people take me more seriously now, which is really nice! I’m not a mess anymore. I’m not always drinking. I find that when I was drinking, I was a binge-drinker. If I had one drink, I’d have to have 50 more drinks. There’s so much clarity. I don’t wake up with a hangover anymore, which is really nice, and I’m able to wake up, open the blinds and let the light in. It’s been good for my mental and physical health. When I quit drinking, I quit doing drugs and smoking. I’m really taking care of myself, and it helps me work out now. I used to be in really great shape and live at the gym. But, you’re not able to do that when you’re partying until 6am every night, sleeping all day and then eating Popeyes to cure your hangover, right? So, all around, it’s been an amazing thing.
When I spoke to you last, you introduced me to the term “marathon drag”. How do you get the time to take care of yourself when you’re doing up to 15 numbers a night?!
Currently, I’ve got all the time in the world! It’s like a nine to five. It depends on what kind of person you are; if you sleep in all day or wake up early. I’ve always been an early-bird, so I’ll do drag until like 2am, wake up and still have a day to start at like six or seven. But it kicks your ass!
How are you adjusting to life in lockdown as a drag entertainer?
I’m in Ontario and our prime minister has been doing these half-assed lockdowns, where he’ll… Oh my god. He’ll lock us down, but there’s little loopholes and it’s a nightmare. I haven’t been able to work since October. Now, he’s opening things up again because numbers are going down but I hope this is the last one. I don’t know. This is our life now and it’s so crazy to think that we used to live our lives, hang out and go to the bars and work. Now I’m watching The Golden Girls like, ‘They’re not wearing masks!’
We’re in lockdown three here in the UK, and it feels like it gets worse each time.
It’s very soul destroying. We’re all tired of it bitch.
Like you said, it’s baffling to think that we were able to go to a club, get a drink and have our faces collide with someone’s sweaty armpit. We took it for granted.
We really did. Fuck! I gotta go… I’m just joking! I wanna go to the movies so bad.
How has life been for you, overall, since competing on Canada’s Drag Race?
Quiet. I don’t wanna be so negative. I feel like I’m pushing this negative narrative lately, but it’s been hard. It’s like a rollercoaster, right? I’ve taken this whole pandemic during Drag Race thing really hard because I wasn’t the big fan-favourite that I thought I was going to be. Because of that, opportunities aren’t thrown towards my way. I do the reaching out and I try to work, but you can only get told no so many times. There’s this saying, ‘The real race starts after Drag Race’ where you have to keep yourself relevant and doing things. Normally with Drag Race, you’ll have a good year of work, work, work, meeting fans and making tons of money. You can finance all of these amazing costumes and do the music videos and shit. But right now, I’m feeling this pressure to keep myself relevant, come up with content and constantly post on Instagram and Twitter. It’s weird because it’s all work and no play. It gets to the point where it’s like, ‘What am I doing this for?’ I made a huge change in my life almost two years ago, got the promotion of my dreams and the day that I was supposed to start working, the company got shut down. I’m basically sitting here collecting government money and supposed to be coming out with music videos and shit. I don’t want to be so negative because I have the fans and people reach out to me all the time, do art of me and it’s really nice. I appreciate that.
It’s perfectly understandable where you’re coming from. The pandemic is hard enough for a regular person. We don’t have all eyes on us. You were catapulted to fame in such a short amount of time, and unlike past competitors, you didn’t get a chance to tour, meet fans, go to DragCon…
You got your 15 minutes of fame, right? I don’t get anywhere near the traction I would get on my social media when Drag Race was airing as I do now. So, I really hope with Canada’s Drag Race season two, whenever that happens, that the sentiment is still there and people are still interested because it’s going to be all about those girls. And that’s what happens. A new season comes out, you forget about the last season and the girls are considered stale.
Drag entertainers have proven over time that the art-form will flourish under adverse circumstances…
But we’re in a time now where entertainers shouldn’t have to solely rely on themselves to flourish. So, how do you think fans can better support queens during this time?
Cameos, honestly. Cameos are a godsend right now because we’re able to get in drag and bust out a few cameos. It helps put some food on our plate. It also helps us be more motivated to get into drag, so we can do other things. Also, they could subscribe to our Patreons or our OnlyFans. There’s so much stuff – merch, right?
During your time on the series, you opened up about your ADHD and experience with sexual assault. Looking back, how do you think these conversations impacted viewers?
I totally forgot about the ADHD thing. It’s just something that I’ve always had and always lived with. It holds me back because my mind goes a mile a minute. That’s who I am, right? It’s all I know. For me to say that on TV, it had a big impact. I got messages like, ‘Oh my god girl, I get it. Thank you for talking about that, I go through the same thing,’ and ‘Watching you kill it up there is great,’ and ‘Thank you for being you and talking about it because it raises awareness.’ I was stunned by that. I didn’t think it would be a thing. When I started talking about my assault story, I didn’t think it would be that big when I talked about it. When you get on Drag Race and have obstacles that you’ve overcome, it’s a known fact that you talk about them. One, it’s a television show and you watch drama. Two, there’s this huge fanbase and people really hold this show and these queens to their heart. So, if you have something that can be somewhat inspiring or just anything at all that you can talk about, it can change one person. When it actually happened… Oh my god, I was so blown away by all of the positive comments. Then I also had a lot of people reach out to me and tell me their personal stories, which was hard. But, I tried to respond to as many as I could. I was really fucking up that challenge, so I had to say something!
We have to talk about your new single, Gettin’ It Done. It feels like a cheerleading track! I love it.
I knew I wanted to do a song. I got together with two writers, Stacey Kay and Leah Canalli, and I said, ‘I want something that’s chanty and gets stuck in people’s heads. Think Bad Romance!’ There’s a Rob Zombie I actually gave to them. I can’t remember what it was, but I listen to it when I work out. I listen to metal! I wanted something upbeat. I wanted a bitch track. I gave them lyrics to put in and call-backs to the show. It was definitely a group effort, with producer Kevin Howley. We all worked hard on it! For the video, you can only do so much with what you have, right? I tried to be resourceful, and I was. I did the song and video on a budget. In my mind, I would love to have a high school band behind me. I wanna be on a field because it’s very… Missy Elliott or something.
Also Gwen Stefani vibes in Hollaback Girl.
Yeah! Exactly. We couldn’t really do it because of the pandemic. That’s… fine, because it would get really expensive. But it’s nice because I was able to have fun with it and draft up different looks and concept, without worrying about choreography.
Did the song come out of the pandemic or is releasing music something you’ve always wanted to do?
It came out of the pandemic, for sure. For a long time, I was just… living. Kind of like how I am now, but I didn’t see much of a future for myself, which is really shitty. When I got sober and on Drag Race, and the few months that I was working up until the pandemic, that’s when the motivation came. ‘I am going to be somebody and I’m going to work my ass off.’ I’m crazy and I have a good sense of sound, I think? I learned I could write good lyrics on the show with my iconic, ‘Scarlett Bobo looks are a no-no,’ line. So I knew I wanted to do that during the show, and I’m just glad I was able to and people like it. I got so many amazing responses from it already.
It shocks me that you’ve not always wanted to be a singer and rapper because, from hearing your verse on Drag Race and the single, it sounds like you’ve been doing this for years?!
It works! I think I’m just fucked in the head that I’m able to write quick, gimmicky funny raps. I can’t focus on something for more than four minutes, so writing things like that is super easy. I have no experience in it, so I don’t know the process.
Is Gettin’ It Done going to be a standalone single or will it be included on a larger collection of tracks?
Honestly, once I can start working and gettin’ it done, then I can come up with more music. I’m ready. I have my bags packed and I have the motivation. I wanna do it all.
BOA’s debut single, Gettin’ It Done, is now available on iTunes and streaming services – watch the fierce music video here or below.