In the immortal words of Nina Bonina Brown, “Well, it’s over.” After ten remarkable weeks of witnessing the queens from the North sashay down the runway, lip-sync for their lives and introduce viewers to Canadianisms that will be embedded in our vernaculars for eternity – “moose knuckles” reigns supreme – Canada’s Drag Race is kaput.
In the final episode of its inaugural season, the top three – Priyanka, Scarlett Bobo and Rita Baga – competed in a jaw-dropping showdown for the crown, performing an all-new remix of RuPaul’s dance classic U Wear It Well, before stomping the runway in their Coronation Eleganza-inspired ensembles.
Shortly before they discovered which of one of their sisters made history as Canada’s First Drag Superstar, we sat down with the iconic trio and discussed their time on the series, that tremendous final lip-sync and how the Drag Race franchise can follow in the footsteps of Canada’s sensational first season.
Fuck me… That lip-sync was brilliant.
Rita: Thank you!
Priyanka: Was that an invitation?
I’m so happy that people who thought us Canadian girls were cute, now know we slay in Canada, and we’ve got some killer competition here.
When you’re in the UK…
Scarlett: I’m in the UK in February!
It’s in my diary. So, you’re all household names in the queer community now – how does it feel?
Priyanka: I won’t stop asking, ‘What’s my name?’ I literally am so excited because everyone knows who we are, we can’t go anywhere without getting recognised. Rita was just recognised on a gay beach!
Rita: That’s a true story.
Priyanka: I feel like for all three of us, this is why we do it. We do it to inspire people and touch people. Literally, I guess, in Rita’s case, and it’s just a dream come true!
Scarlett: I think it’s really cool. My drag grandmother who started the Bobo name passed away right before I was cast on the show, so I was really excited I got to take her last name and so many people around the world now know the Bobo name, and I’m stoked I get to carry on her legacy.
Rita: It feels amazing, and I think in all our different ways, we found out that we touched so many people around the world. I wasn’t aware that there are people speaking French in Zimbabwe, and I found out through social media, and received so many messages around the world going, ‘Oh, I’m watching in this place, this country,’ and I’m like, ‘There are French people in these countries?’
Thanks to the show, Canadian queens have finally earned international recognition…
Rita: It’s surreal. We’ve all been watching the show for so long, and now to have this opportunity to be in it and represent what we like to do and what we do best, not only on Canadian television but international television, it’s amazing. I think we’re all very proud of ourselves, but I won’t speak for my sisters as I know they love to talk.
Scarlett: It’s cool that we’re now on the map. So many Canadian queens have been hustling for so many years and I’m so happy that people who thought us Canadian girls were cute, now know we slay in Canada, and we’ve got some killer competition here. I think that’s really awesome.
Priyanka: Before Canada’s Drag Race was ever announced we always had bar patrons come up to us asking, ‘Will you try out for Drag Race? Who do you think should go on?’ Whenever someone asked who I thought would be on it, I’d say Bobo, Rita Baga, Tynomi Banks, so it’s cool to see something you spoke into existence happen.
Canada’s Drag Race has been a bright light during this pandemic.
This season boasted such a fierce roster of queens. Did you think this would be the top three when you walked into the werkroom?
Scarlett: I did. There was something about these girls that I was like, ‘Yep, they’ll see it through to the end.’
Priyanka: Yeah, looking around the room on the first day I said that Rita and Bobo would be here, because they’re legends. Based on how the competition went, not that I would replace Rita or Bobo because they both deserve the crown, but I was surprised that Lemon wasn’t here with the three of us. It was her and Rita neck and neck all the time, so it was weird to see her get knocked out, but as I said on the show, ‘Bye bitch.’
Rita: It’s mama’s time to shine, so sorry! I think I said to Priyanka on day one that she would be in top three, and I said that to Bobo and I said that to Tynomi. So, I guess I was pretty accurate, as we’re all here together now, almost everyone.
Priyanka: At least one of us is good at telling the future!
All three of you tore it up in that final lip-sync – what was going through your minds on the stage?
Priyanka: What was going through my head at that moment? Honestly, that this is what I came here to do. This is the win, and no matter what way the crown goes, as it could’ve gone to anybody, I was there to have fun. I was looking at Rita seeing her do her thing, Scarlett Bobo was literally mopping the floor. So whatever happened, I was happy to be there, and I was so happy it was at the end as it was the hardest thing I’d done in my life.
Rita: I remember when we received our iPods to get the songs and lyrics, I was trying to map the whole thing in my head like, ‘This one will be the last one, the final song.’ And when the song happened, I had the surreal moment of, ‘Okay, this is it. This is exactly what I imagined.’ I think I blanked out when the song started for five seconds, as I was really in my head, so I can’t wait to see it!
Scarlett was like a bowling ball trying to strike out! She was like, ‘I don’t give a shit!’
Scarlett: It was wild for me. I had never experienced the blue lights and spotlights coming down. I was stood there like, ‘Okay, you haven’t shown anyone what you can do yet, it’s time to pop right off, let’s do this.’ I closed my eyes and blacked out too, ‘When do I rip this gown off? When do I do my reveal?’ and then I went to do it. When I slid across the stage, I didn’t know what I was doing, I was like ‘I don’t care!’ I was just having a good time of making it to the end and having that one moment to just let them have it.
Scarlett, I thought you were going to decapitate these two.
Priyanka: Scarlett was like a bowling ball trying to strike out! She was like, ‘I don’t give a shit!’ Me and Rita were like, ‘We’re sisters, we’re happy to be here’ and then Bobo was like, ‘Get off the stage, move bitch! Reveal, another reveal, another reveal!’
Scarlett: ‘I’m going to let you have it!’
Priyanka: Well that’s why it’s so exciting, as Bobo to her core is easily one of the best performers in Canada, so it was a perfect moment for her to show everybody what she can do.
You’ve all been catapulted to fame in such a short span of time, in the midst of a global pandemic to boot. How have you all been coping over these past few months?
Scarlett: It’s weird. It’s an interesting thing to watch yourself on TV, but also watch yourself on a show you’ve been watching for so many years. It’s really wild and a surreal experience, hearing my voice, and not only me, but other people like Rita and Priyanka that I’ve known for so long. And knowing all these other Drag Race alumni are watching and who knows who else. It’s really cool.
Rita: Canada’s Drag Race has been a bright light during this pandemic, like there’s nothing much to do right now in terms of social activities. Drag Race is like hockey for straight people, you get this sense of belonging with your community and you’re watching queer hockey. I think we bring a lot of smiles and happiness in these dark times, so we’re very grateful to have this experience. Every week, I wasn’t stressing out about watching the episode, I was excited to watch it. I cannot believe this is the last week of the show, it’s been a rollercoaster four months, and it’s the start of another great journey. I cannot believe that 10 weeks will be behind us!
Priyanka: What am I going to do?
Canada’s Drag Race has been a roaring success – what do you think other shows in the franchise can learn from the series?
Priyanka: Make the lip-syncs longer! If you can sell the whole number, you sell the whole fantasy.
I was so happy it was at the end as it was the hardest thing I’d done in my life.
Rita: I have an idea. You notice this on the American version, particularly the last two or three seasons, that most of the girls are working with the same designers – and it shows. We’re all from different provinces and cities and we bring different costumes that don’t look alike and we have different styles. So, it’d be great to encourage and support local designers, this is what we do and this is what we’re doing.
Priyanka: I’m surprised that Scarlett was remained this focused for so long and hasn’t run around the room.
Scarlett: I’m trying to think of the differences between the shows. It’s a hard question!
Priyanka: It’s tough because what each country does is take pride in what it pays homage in, so it’s tough.
Scarlett: Yeah, our show is so Canadian and the amount of Canadianisms are so good. There’s been some many times in the States when they do the debates and run for the presidency, but I’d say the lip-syncs should be longer.
Rita: Is Canadianism a real word?
Scarlett: I might’ve made it up.
Rita: I’m going to steal it!
The entire first season of Canada’s Drag Race is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer.