Arts·Canada's a Drag

Toronto activist and drag artist Mikiki has a secret weapon for effecting change: The Golden Girls

Their show Rose Beef utilizes the classic sitcom to facilitate discussions around queer identity and politics.

Their show Rose Beef utilizes the classic sitcom to facilitate discussions around queer identity and politics

Mikiki 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.​

When video artist, drag performer and queer community health activist Mikiki was growing up in Newfoundland, they discovered something that would change their life: The Golden Girls.

"It was in the basement of my old friend Donny's house. We were besties through elementary school as these two quasi-effeminate, quasi-queer kids," Mikiki says. "We were not big outdoorsmen. So there was a lot of time spent in his basement on summer days drawing elaborate torture chambers and watching The Golden Girls or having The Golden Girls kind of play in the background."

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Directors: Caitlin Durlak and Andrew Moir
Packaging Editor: Kiah Welsh
Titles Designer: Hope Little

Mikiki says a big part of what drew them to the series — which one would assume you're already aware starred Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty as four older women who share a home in Miami — was the way it demonstrated a kind of self-sufficiency.

"[It was] these women not shutting up and women still having no control over their bodies and their sexuality as they age," Mikiki says. "I was always a super loner when I was growing up and I feel like I was learning how to take care of myself. And I feel like there is maybe something interesting about these older women who were decidedly forming their own communities away from men."

The Golden Girls (NBCUniversal/Getty Images/Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank)

This influence has maintained a presence in Mikiki's life, which for the past 25 years has included drag performance. Mikiki regularly does a show in drag called Rose Beef which screens episodes of The Golden Girls and then facilitates a discussion based on their plots. (The show, which ran from 1985 to 1992, tackled everything from coming out to same-sex marriage to HIV/AIDS to elder care and homelessness.)

"Rose Beef is just an opportunity for me to show some episodes of Golden Girls that are thematically linked, and then talk about what was happening in those episodes and also what was happening in America and Canada while they were being made, and how those issues relate to a queer, contemporary, kind of political reality."

What Mikiki loves the most about doing the shows is being able to talk about the immediacy of the issues.

"This is not for the children. This is not for future generations. This is for the community that we have that's in this room. This is for trying to make things better for the people that you're going to pass on the way home tonight. This is about right now, because now is all that we know and all that we have...and we are beholden to each other."

Surely, we could all use a little Rose Beef right now.

Follow Mikiki 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.