CANADA'S A DRAG

Elle Noir secretly slayed in drag while on tour with the navy — now she's Halifax's queen supreme

Watch the latest episode of the new CBC Arts docu-series Canada's a Drag, where our country's drag performers sashay into the spotlight.

Watch the latest episode of Canada's a Drag, where our country's drag performers sashay into the spotlight

Elle Noir. (CBC Arts)

Elle Noir is the latest subject of Canada's a Drag, a weekly docu-series from CBC Arts that showcases drag artists from across the true North strong and fabulous. You can read more about the series and its genesis (and watch all the released episodes) here.​

Elle Noir calls her drag "showgirl old skool." The Halifax-based queen will celebrate 14 years of performing this summer, and she's come to consider it "a self-expression of my extended self."

"For a time, Elle was the strength that got me to where I needed to be to transition into the woman and person I am today," she says.

It's been a considerable road in that regard, as you'll learn as Elle takes centre stage in the latest episode of CBC Arts' docu-series Canada's a Drag.

Watch the episode:

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Director: Jason Levangie
​Episode Associate Producer: Marc Tetreault
Episode Location Sound: Cory Sewell
Episode Picture Editing: Grame Pass
Packaging Editor: Asmi Chandola
Titles Designer: Hope Little​
Special Thanks: Menz and Mollyz Bar, Paul McCurdy, The Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative, The Glamazon Army, The High Heel Awards


Originally from the small Cape Breton, N.S. community of Glace Bay, Elle went straight from high school to the navy — which ultimately brought her to Halifax. And a year after moving to that city, she did her first drag.

"I did it as a dare," Elle recalls. "I looked busted — I was horrible."

But that didn't stop her from continuing to try, and soon enough she was winning drag competitions and pageants.

At the time, Elle was still in the navy, and she would take her drag materials with her on naval tours. 

"I would search [each] port and find the gay bars that would be far away so that if I was at bar and somebody from my ship wandered in I knew that, well, you can't just find this place by accident."

This led Elle to perform all over the world — in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands.

"I would go to the bar during the day to tell them who I was and where I was from, and then I would come back dressed as Elle Noir that night and perform."

(CBC Arts)
 

Eventually, it got to the point where Elle was in drag "more than [she] was herself" and she started to realize: "Hey, maybe it's not the drag — it's the act of being a woman."

"That's when I think the doors came flying off the closet, I guess you could say. And I decided to start transitioning. So I can finally be the person I want to be."

All in all, doing drag has been more transformative than she ever imagined it would be. "​The only thing that's really been a constant for my whole adult life has been Elle Noir...I used to want to hide all the time, but now I want to be in the forefront. And she was a way for me to be out in public without being out in public."

"And that's how I got to be who I am and got my confidence, I guess."

Elle Noir. (CBC Arts)

Canada's a Drag runs every Friday on CBC Arts. Y'all come back now for next week's episode, which features Montreal performer Tranie Tronic.

About the Author

Peter Knegt

Peter Knegt has worked for CBC Arts since way back in 2016, with highlights including co-hosting weekly live talk show State of the Arts, writing the regular LGBTQ-culture column Queeries and playing integral roles in the launch of series The Filmmakers and Canada's a Drag. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films and the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.