CANADA'S A DRAG

Toronto drag artist Yovska uses monsters and aliens as a metaphor for the queer immigrant experience

Inspired by the paranormal, Yovska lives outside the traditional realm of drag — way outside. Watch Canada's a Drag Season 2 now.

Inspired by the paranormal, Yovska lives outside the traditional realm of drag — way outside

One of Yovska's many "bizarre" personas. (CBC Arts)

Yovska 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.​

There is no one else quite like alternative drag performer Yovska. Born in Mexico, he explores themes of horror, fantasy and the paranormal through extraordinary — and extraordinarily designed — drag. And he expresses it all as a metaphor for his experience as a queer first-generation immigrant.

A recent graduate of OCAD University, Yovska first introduced his drag persona to the world by attending balls in Toronto's Kiki ballroom scene (where he holds an undefeated record in the category of "bizarre").

"I go outside a traditional realm of drag," Yovska says. "I guess if it's female impersonation or male impersonation, I kind of like to do like, monster impersonation or goblin impersonation...I like to take many different forms. I'm a bit of a shape-shifter. Sometimes I'll be like a humanoid shark; other times, I'll feel more like a Bigfoot kind of creature."

Watch the episode:

Episode 7 6:55

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Directors: Istoica
Packaging Editor: March Mercanti 
Titles Designer: Hope Little

Yovska says his performance lets him explore his identity as someone who has "always kind of been kind of confused about their identity."

"What excites me about drag is that it's given me a way to kind of express all these ideas I've had for such a long time," he says. "Growing up queer, growing up as an immigrant...that's always been something that I've always questioned about myself and where I belong. And I found that before I started doing drag, I would do a lot of self-portraits. I would do a lot of art relating back to my identity. And then once I started doing drag, I'm like, 'Oh, well, all these ideas are coming together.' All these ideas of fashion, all these ideas of horror, all these ideas of just self-expression...I guess that's what's really exciting about drag — just being able to bring those ideas into the real world."

Yovska strikes a pose. (CBC Arts)

Yovska says that part of the reason why he feels he can relate so much to paranormal creatures is because of how religion can demonize queer identities.

"You think about demons and — in a way — it's kind of embracing that sort of identity as well. When you think about immigrants being called 'aliens'...I'm embracing that entity and empowering it as well."

Follow Yovska 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.