Librarian by day, Lourdes the Merry Virgin by night: How drag saved this Edmonton artist

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

Lourdes the Merry Virgin representing on the streets of Edmonton. (CBC Arts)

Lourdes the Merry Virgin is the latest subject of Canada's a Drag, a weekly docu-series from CBC Arts that showcases drag artists from across the true North strong and fabulous. You can read more about the series and its genesis here.

Four years ago, Edmonton librarian Jonathan Busch was feeling depressed. But after considering going into therapy, he decided to take a more unlikely route to remediation: he start doing drag.

"I assessed the cost of therapy, and I was like, 'Well, at least with drag I'd get to keep stuff.' And I'd heard RuPaul describe drag as therapy so I was like, 'OK, we'll do that.'"

On that fateful day, Lourdes the Merry Virgin — Busch's drag alter ego and the centre of our Edmonton episode of Canada's a Drag — was born.

What started as therapy turned into what Busch calls "an ongoing creative research project."

"Lourdes and Jonathan are essentially the same person," he says. "I think that's one brilliant element about drag is that it has, against my will, crafted for me a fictional character out of my own skin and ideas about living. That and I get to become a sexy bombshell like the ones I idolized from my childhood." 

Watch the episode:

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Director: Trevor Anderson
Episode Director Photography: Aaron Munson
Episode Sound: Philip Dransfield
Episode Editor: Sarah Taylor Bao
Packaging Editor: Chanel Klein
Titles Designer: Hope Little​
Special Thanks: Metro Cinema, Evolution Wonderlounge 

Busch says that the aesthetic of Lourdes has often been "to both alienate and seduce a crowd," which he initially thought wouldn't garner him that many fans.

"But it turns out a lot of people respond to it," he says. 

Lourdes the Merry Virgin performs at the Metro Cinema in Edmonton. (CBC Arts)

Busch considers the Edmonton drag scene "inclusive and open-minded," which has led him to appreciate the city for fostering such a "kind-hearted community."

"I may never have realized how cool this city can be if I hadn't started drag," he says. "Shortly after I started drag, I joined the House of Homo-cidal and met a crew of best friends who I love dearly, all of whom are brilliant artists and performers and just lovely humans."

Beyond finding that community, Busch also found himself in his drag — literally.

"I think the one thing about when you scrub out of drag, there's a split second moment when you kinda get a glimpse of what you look like outside of yourself. It's kinda cool. I noticed it the first time I ever painted myself. Once it was washed off, I was like, 'Oh my god, that's my face...and I don't hate it.'"

Lourdes the Merry Virgin. (CBC Arts)

Canada's a Drag runs every Friday on CBC Arts. Y'all come back now for next week's episode, which features Vancouver's Berlin M. Stiller.

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.