Arts·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

Guizo LaNuit. (CBC Arts)

Guizo LaNuit 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.​

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."

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."

Stream seasons 1 and 2 of Canada's a Drag now on CBC Gem.

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

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.

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