Local queens vying for top spot on RuPaul's Drag Race Canadian edition
Windsor-born queens Juice Boxx and BOA will premier on first Canadian season
Canadian drag is about to become a lot more popular as RuPaul's Drag Race kicks off its Canadian spin-off series next week, featuring two queens from Windsor.
This is the first Canadian version of the popular U.S. show, where drag queens compete in front of a celebrity panel to win a grand prize of $100,000 and take their performance to a whole new level.
The two local competitors — Juice Boxx and BOA — are originally from Windsor, but now live and work predominantly in the Toronto area.
Both queens have been performing in drag for about five years, and were equally thrilled when they found out they'd be competing on the show.
You just want to show exactly who you are and you want to be as true to yourself as possible and just hope that people kind of accept that and love it.- Juice Boxx, Canada's Drag Race contestant
"My reaction when I was told that I was going to be on Drag Race — I cried. Oh my God, I sobbed," said BOA. "I wasn't expecting it and it just hit me and then I kind of went into a haze and I went out for lunch with my partner to celebrate, and I kind of sat there like OK. It was great."
"I thought it was a trick.," said Juice Boxx. "I was just like 'No, you're lying, like no, is this a prank show? It's not true.' I didn't feel like it was actually real, until I walked on the set. I thought it was just takes the whole time. Even preparing, I was just like, I am spending all of this money and I don't know if this is even real."
I think there's going to create a lot more opportunities for Canadians ... It's going to make it more mainstream.- BOA, Canada's Drag Race contestant
Being on the show gives the queens an opportunity to highlight some of their skills, like makeup artistry or costume design, as well as their personalities. They do this through various challenges, including a weekly runway walk.
WATCH | Juice Boxx and Boa talk about what it's like taking part on the show:
With the exposure comes opportunities — like more drag work, better pay and access to a larger audience — but the queens had to keep the whole thing a secret. Filming the show happened long before the announcement revealing the program's airdate.
"It was very hard. That was probably the hardest thing," said BOA. "It wasn't the hardest thing about it, but I wanted to tell my friends and I wanted to share with everybody and I also wanted to be able to source people to help me kind of prepare."
That preparation, which includes making opulent outfits, makeup and wigs, can be very costly, said Juice Boxx. But it's all part of competing.
"The goal is to get on [the show] and then once you get on you're just like, 'OK. Now I've got to figure out what else to do,'" she said. "You just want to show exactly who you are and you want to be as true to yourself as possible and just hope that people kind of accept that and love it."
Fans of the show can be vicious at times, but the queens are prepared, saying they will avoid the comment sections on social media.
Overall, they see Canada's Drag Race as a positive for the drag community, as well as the country's acceptance of it.
"When the show was announced, there was like a switch flipped, where people just upgraded everything, myself included," said BOA, explaining many drag queens worked harder to get on the show. "Everyone put rhinestones on their costumes and started wearing styled hair — it was really crazy to see that."
"Now that the show is going to be airing, I think there's going to create a lot more opportunities for Canadians ... It's going to make it more mainstream in Canada. And it's just growing so much. Now it's growing faster than ever."
If you want to see the queens work their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, Canada's Drag Race premieres on July 2 on Bell Media's streaming service Crave.