CANADA'S A DRAG

Guizo of Montreal: This k.d. lang-impersonating drag king has definitely seen it all

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

Montreal performer Guizo LaNuit, featured in the sixth episode of Canada's a Drag. (CBC Arts)

Guizo LaNuit 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.​

Fifteen years ago, transdisciplinary Montreal artist Alexis O'Hara gave birth to the character Guizo LaNuit — the centre of the latest episode of CBC Arts' docu-series Canada's a Drag — during cabaret performances, but didn't give him too much consideration. "It started as a lark," she says.

But Guizo had stamina, and O'Hara performs as him regularly to this day.  

"Originally he was a bit more sexy and sexualizing and objectifying," O'Hara says. "But very quickly I was like, 'Oh, that's not the drag king that I'm interested in doing." So he's like a little more...tortured, vulnerable, philosophical, seen it all, jaded. Definitely a feminist."

Watch the episode:

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Directors: Juliet Lammers and Lorraine Price
Packaging Editor: Chanel Klein
Titles Designer: Hope Little​
Archival Footage: Deborah VanSlet
Special Thanks: Michael Venus, Jess Cohen, Claire Sanford, Julien Fontaine


O'Hara says she first became aware of drag when she was watching Julie Andrews in the film Victor/Victoria.

"Basically seeing her dressed as this man and passing — that was a thrill," O'Hara says. "I think it was the first time I kind of had the idea that such a thing could exist."

Guizo LaNuit. (CBC Arts)
 

That drag genesis evolved into what O'Hara now sees as "a means to tap into aspects of my personality that I cannot otherwise embody."

"When I am 'Alexis' I can feel constrained by the limits of my identity as a public and a private person, my morality, my susceptibility to the opinions and judgment of others," she says. "As Guizo, I am free to explore an ideal of masculinity that 'Alexis' cannot access: calm, confident, aloof, vulnerable yet immutable. Guizo doesn't have to try to be anything — he simply exists. He is in touch with the awkwardness and evils of the world. He is resigned to his sorrow. He is at peace."

More generally, O'Hara has grown to view drag as "basically anything that you put on yourself in order to enter society in a way that you would otherwise not be able to enter."

"When I am Guizo...I am still me with these radical beliefs, and I try to use the medium of comedy to give dignity and power and the right to be ridiculous to all characters, including this obviously queer motherfucker."

Guizo LaNuit. (CBC Arts)

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

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.