Arts·Canada's a Drag

Charli Deville is pushing drag kings into the mainstream, one Justin Bieber impersonation at a time

"Montreal's deadbeat daddy" wants to make kings as celebrated as their queen counterparts.

'Montreal's deadbeat daddy' wants to make kings as celebrated as their queen counterparts

Charli Deville 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 three seasons here.​

Charli Deville wants to make drag kings as celebrated in the mainstream as their queen counterparts — and will stop at nothing to make it happen.

"I feel like right now we're living in the golden age of drag," Charli says. "There's drag everywhere, but it's the queens. We see the queens all over the place and I think it's amazing, but we don't see any kings. And I mean, it's not surprising. I work in a male-dominated industry in my day job and think the same roles apply with drag as well." 

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Director and Editor: Ashley Duong
Episode Cinematographer: Thomas LeBlanc Murray
Episode Sound Recordist: Steven Sych
Packaging Editor: Kiah Welsh
Titles Designer: Hope Little

Self-described as "Montreal's premier deadbeat daddy," Charli is a computer programmer by day — a job that their drag has played more of a role in than they ever expected.

"I think Charli has given me a lot of confidence in my day-to-day," they say. "I really try to get into the mindset of somebody who is like — born and raised but not just like any man. He's also rich and famous and he's got fans, so I try to keep that in my head."

One of the most prominent rich and famous mindsets Charli puts themselves in is the one and only Justin Bieber, who they regularly channel onstage.

"My biggest challenge is really like, making masculinity interesting," they say. "So I try to take these guys that have a personality or have comedy along with them or just a very recognizable look. Justin Bieber is a worldwide celebrity...I've had girls cry at me when I do him, which is a whole experience. Like, I get to live this pop star dream without having to actually go through all the horrible stuff that comes with it. So that's amazing."

Be careful what you wish for, Charli, because your star is definitely on the rise.

Follow Charli Deville on Instagram and meet the other kings, queens and in betweens in the third season of Canada's a Drag, streaming now on CBC Gem.

About the Author

Peter Knegt has worked for CBC Arts since 2016, writing the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the 2019 Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada) and spearheading the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag and interactive project Superqueeroes, both of which received 2020 Canadian Screen Award nominations. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also a stand-up comedian, 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.