CANADA'S A DRAG

Irma Gerd! For this St. John's drag queen, the truth is in the transformation

"It brought me back to my true self that I hid for a long time." Watch Canada's a Drag Season 2 now.

'It brought me back to my true self that I hid for a long time'

Irma Gerd is on top of St. John's. (CBC Arts)

Irma Gerd 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.

"I think it's really important for anyone anywhere to have a community," says St. John's drag queen and self-described "party girl" Irma Gerd (say it out loud). A visual artist and drag performer from Corner Brook, N.L., Irma (a.k.a. Jason Wells) is the mother of "the best drag house this corner of the world has to offer, the Phlegm Fatales," and she prides herself on the community she has helped build in St. John's. 

Irma believes there are a lot of queer people who don't feel represented in the Newfoundland capital. "There's a gay bar in town, but we've been trying to make our spaces operate as a queer-friendly bar — not just gays. That means like, not just homosexual men. It's anyone who wants to come celebrate who they are and their own identity. Drag lets you do that."

"I'm not just in my room playing with makeup and wigs," she continues. "I'm putting this message out there that you can be who you want to be and you can play with your identity and you don't have to commit to being one person. You can you can be whoever you want to be...and that doesn't have to be a permanent thing."

Watch the episode:

Episode 6 6:54

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Director: LianMorrison
​Episode Cinematographer: Duncan DeYoung
Episode Sound: George Newman
Packaging Editor: March Mercanti 
Titles Designer: Hope Little

Irma started doing drag when she lived in Toronto and met the people who eventually became the House of Filth (which includes Allysin Chaynes, subject of Canada's a Drag's very first episode). "I loved the weird things they would bring to the stage. They changed my preconceptions of what a lip-sync could be."

Irma took those learnings and brought them back to St. John's.

"That whole journey really just turned me into the person that I think I originally was. It brought me back to my true self that I hid for a long time."

Irma Gerd gets ready for a show. (CBC Arts)

Irma says that drag has allowed her "to come out of my shell as a smarter, funnier, more confident person."

"I owe this all to the people I've met through the avenue of drag. As a young person I was often bullied into submission, but now I have the confidence to stand up for myself and for others."

As for folks that want to follow in her heel steps? She says this is a great time to start.

"Drag doesn't have to cost a lot, so go buy a pair of heels and a wig, play with some makeup and head down to the closest Drag Race screening to meet your new bffs," she says. "Or if you live in a small town that doesn't have much community, reach out online! Instagram is basically the biggest online gay bar after Grindr."

Follow Irma Gerd 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.