Victoria has an active drag scene. There are Queens, Kings and Things — which often refers to drag that doesn’t align with the King or Queen categories — who captivate audiences in bars all over the city. However, these shows are usually 19+ which means they’re not open to a large part of the community. Erika Chom, a local drag King, set out to create a space for all-ages, accessible drag shows featuring performers with a range of experience.
Junk Male, Chom’s King persona, created For the Love of Drag (FtLoD) back in March of this year as the production face for the shows he planned on creating.
Currently, Junk Male hosts a monthly show called Sashay Cafe at Caffe Fantastico.
“It was really important to create a show that was all ages, in an accessible space and had open stage casting regardless of a performer’s experience,” he explains.
At the moment, Junk Male is the sole FtLoD staff member, but he sees more people being recruited in the future. He also points out that there are several local drag artists who have volunteered their time to make Sashay Cafe a success.
“It would not have been possible without them,” he says.
Junk Male plans on hosting the monthly Sashay Cafe shows year round as the shows have been well received. The June show was the first themed event. Junk Male chose a Disney theme which he says the audience seemed to enjoy.
“I do love a theme, but you’ll probably see the theme shows spaced out in the future. That gives artists more room to create the numbers they want to bring to the stage,” he explains.
At the moment, Sashay Cafe is the only show Junk Male produces, but he has plans for two other shows.
“I believe what FtLoD stands for — which is creating spaces for all performers — is resonating within the community and I’m very excited to be working with the folks that have reached out,” he says.
People who were exposed to drag through RuPaul’s Drag Race have a more narrow view of drag, says Junk Male.
“Globally, Kings and non-binary performers have to work much harder to earn the audience’s attention. It’s important to know that all drag is valid and it’s much, much more than performers just looking as femme as possible,” he says.
We have a huge King community in Victoria, as well as Things, he explains, and all performers are well respected within the drag community. Audiences aren’t always as receptive as many people have only been exposed to femme drag.
“Drag can be many things using gender as art: empowerment, expression, exploration, protest,” says Junk Male, who also performs in other shows around the city.
He is grateful for the support that Sashay Cafe has received. All three Sashay Cafe shows sold out. The shows have also been an opportunity for many performers to get on stage for the first time, he says.
He’s also appreciative of the partnership with Caffe Fantastico as they provide the space that makes the show possible.
Those who are curious about drag can check out the upcoming Sashay Cafe on July 27 or skim through the YYJDrag Facebook page, says Junk Male. Anyone interested in performing can get in touch with him through his Instagram: @loveofdragvic.