Irma Gerd bringing St. John's drag to Canadian reality competition

·3 min read
St. John's drag performer Irma Gerd is the first competitor from the East Coast to appear on Canada's Drag Race. (World of Wonder - image credit)
St. John's drag performer Irma Gerd is the first competitor from the East Coast to appear on Canada's Drag Race. (World of Wonder - image credit)
World of Wonder
World of Wonder

St. John's drag performer Irma Gerd is taking her act to the biggest stage in the business.

One of 12 queens to be competing on the new season of Canada's Drag Race, Gerd will be the first performer on the show to represent the East Coast.

"There's a lot of pressure representing a whole wing of the country that has not been shown on this show before, but I think I'm ready to handle it," she said in a video announcing her as a contestant.

She describes her drag style as weird, wild and wonderful with a "touch of ugly."

"The touch of ugly is important. Drag is all about subverting ideas of gender. And I think why not subvert ideas of beauty as well?"

Phlegm Fatales/Facebook
Phlegm Fatales/Facebook

Gerd's subversive drag stylings are a fixture of the active drag scene in Newfoundland and Labrador.

An artist and performer originally from Corner Brook, Gerd (also known as Jason Wells) is one of the founding members of the non-binary drag collective the Phlegm Fatales.

"We're all collectively just crying, shaking, screaming and celebrating," said fellow Fatale Madame Daddy. "We are thrilled to see her do her weird, wacky stuff on stage. And we're thrilled to have the rest of the world watch it along with us."

"Knowing Irma, I know that the biggest thing that she's going to put on that screen is absolute unfettered joy," said Liezel Hues. She met Irma Gerd after watching RuPaul's Drag Race and wanting to see what the St. John's scene was like.

"I hope that everyone who watches it can't help but fall in love with her because we certainly all have over the years."

The subversiveness of queer joy

Drag has exploded in St. John's in the last decade, driven in no small part by shows like Drag Race and artists and groups like the Phlegm Fatales producing their own shows.

"We do have several performers within town, such as Roxie Cotton and Betty Boo, who have been at it for several years, 15 to 20 years," said Madame Daddy, adding names like Johnny Diamond, Fashionista Jones. And Irma Gerd.

But somehow the popularity of shows like Drag Race haven't dulled the natural subversive edge of drag itself. Quite the opposite, according to according to self-described "drag creature" Backslash Garbagefile.

"I do think that the evils of capitalism undermine the revolutionary potential of most things, but they also allow those things to proliferate," said Garbagefile.

"At the same time, I think queer joy is, in and of itself political. And we don't owe anyone politics. Our joy is resistance. Our love is resistance. And so, you know, if what we mostly see is joy, and love, and queer community and queer arts, then I'm all for that."

CBC
CBC

The St. John's drag community will be closely watching and cheering for the self-described "Beast from the East" on Drag Race Canada from home next month. But Gerd says she's ready to bring home the crown.

"I think nobody in this competition is going to be able to bring the level of stupidity that I am about to put onto this runway."

Canada's Drag Race Season 3 begins July 14, airing on Crave in Canada.

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