Arts·Canada's a Drag

Buxom, bearded and beautiful: The herstory of Alma Bitches, the full-figured heart of Vancouver drag

The unapologetic plus-sized queen shows that drag slays in all shapes and sizes. Watch Canada's a Drag Season 2 now.

The unapologetic plus-sized queen shows that drag slays in all shapes and sizes

Alma Bitches performs in Vancouver. (CBC Arts)

Alma Bitches is just one of the many fabulous subjects featured in Canada's a Drag, a docu-series from CBC Arts that showcases drag artists from across the true North strong and fierce. You can watch all 21 episodes here.​

One fateful night at a Denny's restaurant in Vancouver's Davie Village, the artist not yet known as Alma Bitches was sitting with some friends. A song came on the jukebox, and Alma started to lip-sync along.

"One of the guys I was with was like, 'Oh, if you just lost a ton of weight and shaved your body you'd be such a great drag queen,'" Alma recalls. "And I just kind of pushed it aside and just sort of was like, 'Yeah, drag's not for me.'"

"But then I was going to other places outside of Vancouver and going to drag shows, and seeing bearded queens or hairy queens — seeing people of all sorts of shapes and sizes doing drag. And I was like, 'Oh, it's a thing to see like a person that looks like me do drag.'"

The rest is herstory. Now one of Vancouver's most in-demand drag performers, Alma Bitches makes no apologies for her buxom body — nor should she. 

"She's a full-figured woman," Alma says of herself. "She wears lots of padding. People always come up to her like, 'Oh, I wish I had a body like that.' I say, 'Well, you can just go down to The Brick, get a pair of scissors and cut up those couches.'"

Watch the episode:

Episode 1 8:39

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Director & Editor: Josephine Anderson
Episode Director of Photography: Brian Ceci
Episode Camera Assist: Martyna Czaplak
Packaging Editor: March Mercanti 
Titles Designer: Hope Little

Alma has now been active in the drag scene since 2010 — all the more remarkable considering the journey that brought her to that night at Denny's in the first place. For years, Alma was lost in a sea of self-abuse, for a time nearly losing herself entirely to it.

"For better or for worse, I tend to be a little bit more of an all-or-nothing kind of person," Alma says. "When I did drugs for like seven years of my youth, I didn't do anything besides that. The one that I really kind of connected with was crystal meth...I tried my hardest to die and it didn't happen."

Alma Bitches with friends at a Denny's after finishing her show. (CBC Arts)

Instead, Alma entered a recovery program, which is where she met a ton of queer people living their lives out of the closet — and became inspired to come out herself. Little did she know that just a few years later she'd not only have found drag but would have two weekly shows on Davie Street, as well as numerous monthly and quarterly events around the city (not to mention performing in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Baltimore and Brooklyn).

"My ambition for Alma Bitches is I want people to know me. I would love to throw parties where like, thousands of people were hanging out and living for the show. I want to travel the world; I want to be booked and do shows outside of Vancouver. I feel like if I keep doing what I'm doing, people will be talking about Alma Bitches long after I'm gone."

Follow Alma Bitches on Instagram

Meet the other 12 kings and queens in the second season of Canada's a Drag here.

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.