Nfld. & Labrador

Irma Gerd is sashaying her way into the hearts of RuPaul's Drag Race fans in St. John's

One of the best ways to spend a Thursday night in St. John's just might be weekly screenings hosted by Jason Wells' alter ego.

Jason Wells' alter ego hosting weekly screenings at Valhalla Tavern

Irma Gerd is the creation of Jason Wells, a St. John's printmaker who hosts weekly RuPaul's Drag Race screenings and performs in venues across the city. (Submitted)

Weekly screenings of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars in St. John's have been drawing crowds this winter, and inspiring newcomers to find out just what it means to live life in drag.

Jason Wells, also known by his drag alter ego Irma Gerd, is the organizer of the weekly viewing party, which is held off George Street at Valhalla Tavern.

"It's kind of like the queer Super Bowl every week," said Wells in an interview with Weekend AM's Heather Barrett.

RuPaul's Drag Race, which has aired nine seasons so far in its regular iteration, is currently midway through its third All Stars edition, and over the last decade has become a major phenomenon, with similar screening events hosted all over the world.

For Wells, the appeal all goes back to seeing his community represented on screen. Drag Race is a show about queer lives, and queer joy, in all its different iterations.

"It's just good to see yourself represented on TV and your community represented honestly," he said. 

Witch from next door

So who is Irma Gerd? Well … she's a little hard to pin down.

"She's kooky. She's your weird aunt. She's a witch from next door. She's an evil Disney villain but she's also sometimes kind of the sweet Disney villain," said Wells.

Wells says he first discovered drag while living in Toronto, but has since found a fun and supportive community of drag queens and kings in St. John's. (Heather Barrett/CBC)
One thing is for sure, though, she's a blast to have in in your life.

"It's very fun to be her, and I've been told it's fun to be around her."

Wells says those interested in watching Drag Race for the first time should learn to heed RuPaul's mantra: "We're all born naked and the rest is drag." 

"I'm a bit of a gender-bender in my day-to-day, so drag is a way for me to keep playing at that," he said. 

The screenings for RuPaul's Drag Race happen every Thursday night at 10:30 p.m. at Valhalla Tavern, and before the show airs, there's live drag performances, lip-syncs and games.

Get there early if you want to grab a seat, though; it tends to fill up very quickly. 

RuPaul's Drag Race is screened every Thursday at Valhalla Tavern in St. John's. (Submitted by Pride PEI)

With files from Heather Barrett