Arts·Canada's a Drag

Drag artist Vivian Vanderpuss is Victoria's quirky cat mother and solution to the rat problem

The avant-garde performer serves elaborate looks that are truly out of this world.

The avant-garde performer serves elaborate looks that are truly out of this world

Vivian Vanderpuss 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.​

"Drag, to me, is living the fantasy. Sometimes I want to be the most beautiful woman in the world — and then sometimes I want to look like a swamp monster."

Those are just two of the seemingly endless elements of drag performer Vivian Vanderpuss's wildly diverse work, which represents the many aspects of Vivian embodied through "glamour, humour, ugliness and camp."

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Director: Kelly Conlin
Packaging Editor: Kiah Welsh
Titles Designer: Hope Little

They describe their drag as "a Rolodex of characters ranging from saucy snowbird to celestial being. And what makes my drag unique is that it's based on the people I've met in life, as well as aspects of my personality, whether they're beautiful or ugly. I always aim to create and explore something better than the last." 

Originally from Kingsville, Ont., Vivian moved to Victoria on a whim and then started their transition into drag performing.

"It was like a very slow transition," they say. "It started with my love for vintage clothing and then my love for vintage women's clothing. It was me sitting on my bed with the fur coat on and the clip on earrings and talking about my ex-husband Donovan, which I don't have...The Vanderpuss in Vivian Vanderpuss came from the idea of like, a bougie divorcee Vanderpump kind of thing combined with my adoration of cats."

It's a persona that has been embraced not just by Victoria audiences but by Vivian's loyal social media following. 

"I've really enjoyed sharing my drag through social media because I can really effectively communicate characters and their backstory...She's the jazz hands to your spirit fingers, the indigestion to your all-you-can-eat buffet and the 'oi what did I step on' to that gum you just stepped on. If camp was a topping at Subway, she'd ask, 'Um, could you put a little more please?'"

"Victoria's quirky cat mother and solution to the rat problem: Vivian Vanderpuss!"

If only all Canadian cities could have an unofficial cat mother so gloriously complex.

Follow Vivian Vanderpuss 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 won 2020 Canadian Screen Awards. 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.