Heading into Canada’s Drag Race, Tynomi Banks was the queen to beat. With over a decade in the biz, the performer was/is revered as a legend in Canada’s drag scene thanks to her world-class performances and HERstory-making achievements (she became the first drag entertainter to perform in Toronto’s Dundas Square during World Pride 2014).
During her time on the series, Tynomi slayed us with a “face real beat” and drove a stake through our hearts like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Not Sorry Aboot It is now available on streaming services), but sadly, she was defeated by – as RuPaul would say – her inner saboteur. The star was unable to ‘find her footing’ and faced elimination for three consecutive weeks. Although she gagged viewers with flips, kicks, splits and other voguing tricks, she was sent packin’ in episode four by Ilona Verley following negative critiques for her eco-inspired runway.
“I was not ready, but obviously no one’s ever ready to go home,” Tynomi tells GAY TIMES over Zoom. “I wanted to make it to the end! Also, it was so emotional because of all the girls. We’re in a competition and all of them were so emotional! We were all crying… all of us! It was beautiful because they really respect me and I really respect them. It brought us closer. It was such an amazing journey and I think I’m the only one in history with three amazing lip syncs? I was fighting for life. I’m happy about that.”
It was such an amazing journey and I think I’m the only one in history with three amazing lip syncs? I was fighting for life.
We caught up with the fierce performer to discuss her elimination, which iconic musical diva she had planned for Snatch Game and why her time on Canada’s Drag Race has inspired her to get even ‘crazier’ with her drag.
Tynomi, I loved watching you this season.
Thank you! That means the most.
This is the fourth week in a row where I was just not ready for the queen to leave.
It was The Young and the Restless!
How did you feel after your elimination?
It was so weird. It was like a rollercoaster of emotions. There was a little bit of frustration because I loved our runway and the challenge. I felt like we did very well. I felt defeated a little bit, just because it was a dream to be on the show, and to have so much support from the fans, friends and from people back home. I was not ready, but obviously no one’s ever ready to go home. I wanted to make it to the end! Also, it was so emotional because of all the girls. We’re in a competition and all of them were so emotional! We were all crying… all of us! It was beautiful because they really respect me and I really respect them. It brought us closer. It was such an amazing journey and I think I’m the only one in history with three amazing lip syncs? I was fighting for life. I’m happy about that.
That last one was worthy of a double shantay.
Excuse me?! Right?! I thought so too! We were fighting.
Did you expect to lip sync?
Not at all. I thought we were so strategic with our decisions. We were like, ‘Let’s give them all the other junk and we’ll do paper,’ because Jimbo is amazing with art design and building crafts. Ilona has an eye for fashion and detail. I was like, ‘Let’s just do this. I want to model this and just get it done.’ I honestly thought we had a strong team, even today, I think we had a great team.
You were going through it on the main stage – what was going through your head?
I’m usually good with critiques, even though they’re negative, I’m always like, ‘Okay…’ and I take it and move on. It doesn’t go in one ear and out the other. I take bits and pieces and learn to improve. But… oh my god. In that moment… You know when someone asks you a question and you’re already feeling vulnerable? That’s what happened. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I literally did not agree with us being in the bottom. We had a story! You don’t have to agree with everything the judges say. I respect them, but I don’t agree. I cried under frustration. It was just so emotional and all the girls felt it. You could see that.
Yeah, it got quite heated in the werkroom – did you expect everyone to pop off like that?
[Laughs] No! It shocked me. As you could see me crying and having my moment, tears quickly evaporated. I didn’t even know that was happening. It’s fine. I’ve been in moments like that where you just lash out and it’s not even the reason, you know? None of us wanted to be in the bottom, and that’s how those two girls chose to express themselves. It was quickly forgotten. It’s under the table, like, we’re all friends to this day. This is how a lot of people deal with stress.
I literally did not agree with us being in the bottom. We had a story!
I’m fully prepared for Ilona’s meltdown to reach meme status.
I loved it! It makes great TV. Going into the competition, and watching her entrance, I was like, ‘I’m not going to get along with this girl.’ She’s one of the most precious friends I’ve met on that show. It was an unexpected friendship, but we talk all the time and she’s so loving and caring. She’s very passionate about anything she puts her mind too.
We definitely saw this friendship blossom in the latest episode, especially when you encouraged her to lip sync.
After hanging out with her on the show and hearing her explain her indigenous background, I just thought, ‘You know what girl? You need to fight too. You’re here for a bigger purpose.’ It changes after a while. Your goal is to be on the show and win, but all of a sudden, fans reach out to you too. The type of things that they’re messaging… They’re connecting with you for different reasons and for her, it was so important for her to fight and be that warrior, and that’s what we did.
How have you found the reception from the Drag Race fanbase?
Honestly, we all had this conversation where we were like, ‘Let’s have each other’s back if anything negative happens,’ because it does. Watching the girls from the States, they go through racism and abuse and threats. We were like, ‘We need to stay strong and be sisters in this.’ The support has been nothing but love. If anything disagrees with something, it’s something about the show and that’s fair. It’s a TV show. We haven’t experienced that disgusting behaviour, fingers crossed! It’s just been constant love and support.
Yeah I’ve noticed it’s been overwhelmingly positive. The only negativity I saw was in relation to Kyne being labelled as the “villain” of Canada’s Drag Race.
But even her, everyone loves her! I love her personality. Even on the show, if she’s like that, I respect that. It’s real. It’s what it is. She is so talented and even after the show, we had a moment where she said she was nervous to meet me. I was like, ‘What? I was nervous to meet you!’ We’re great friends now.
May I ask who you had planned for Snatch Game?
Oh yeah! I was going to be Grace Jones. I was doing some research on her and I thought, ‘Wow. This woman is so powerful, so stunning, no bullshit and pure passion. It’s almost me, but she’s like… crazy with it.’ I thought it would’ve been fun to do that character.
I’ve just noticed that you were one week away from Snatch Game.
It’s okay! I’ve slept on it and I’m okay with that, but I was definitely pissed!
What have you learnt from your time on the series?
I wish I was more open and fun and didn’t take it so seriously because yes, at the end of the day, it’s a TV show. It’s not making me or breaking me. I got on the show because of who I am, and so I have to go in with open mind and open arms.
What do you think this show will do for Canada’s drag scene?
You know what’s beautiful about it? All of these Ru girls have seen us and realised that Canada is throwing down! They’re accepting us and we’re part of this big family. Us girls, we look up to them. For them to be fangirling over us is such a beautiful and amazing thing. Hopefully one day, we can do a whole big thing and meet everyone.
I wish I was more open and fun and didn’t take it so seriously because yes, at the end of the day, it’s a TV show. It’s not making me or breaking me.
What has been the best part of this experience for you?
If I haven’t said it already, the fact that we’re all so close. I’ve worked with some of these girls in the past but I didn’t know them as deep as I know them now. For me, learning different elements of drag too, and I’ve applied some of those elements into my drag too; to take more chances and do more fun things. I always hear, ‘Tynomi’s a dancer and she looks good.’ No, I want to get kind of crazy and do more fun things now. Meeting these girls has inspired me.
You’re technically the first lip sync assassin of Canada’s Drag Race – which of your performances is your favourite?
It was the one in front of Deborah Cox. I couldn’t go down in flames with that one! Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if I didn’t know the song for the person I back up danced for? She recognised me right away and I recognised her right away, so I couldn’t fail her. It was a great lip sync and Anastarzia put up a good fight. We were going there with it!
Last week, Anastarzia told me that she would’ve sent you home if she put her all into it – how do you respond?
[Laughs] I think so! She’s so crazy! I was giving my all and it was a great fight. Me and her will talk!
Canada’s Drag Race airs every Thursday in Canada and the United States on Crave and WOW Presents Plus, and every Friday in the UK on BBC iPlayer.