Dragged into the spotlight

Franchesa Dynamite (left), Sophie Wright (centre) and Shady Devile (right) pose for a photo after their performance at Club Didi.

Eyelashes firmly in place, lips painted a bright shade of red, her heels click on the floor and her dress sways from side to side.

This isn’t just a daily makeup routine, this is art.

Lethbridge drag queen Aria Ivory (Carter Cannady) has been performing this particular form of art for just over a year, but has been involved in other artistic practices her whole life.

“I’ve always been involved in theatre in one form or another and then drag happened. It allowed me to not only be a performer, but also just be pretty.”

She also believes the art of drag is not only about looking good in a dress, but instead providing those who watch her perform a chance to escape their day-to-day lives.

“I wanted to create beautiful images in drag that would inspire people who need to see some beauty and need to experience some joy,” said Ivory

According to world-renowned drag queen RuPaul, the art of drag has roots in dramatic practice. The earliest records date back to ancient Greek theatre where women were forbidden to perform publicly, forcing men to dress up as women in order to play female characters.

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It was not until the 20th century when ideas on gender roles started becoming less constrictive that drag became its own brand of comedic, risqué art.

This shift brought a drag evolution that people today are familiar with, where a performer creates their drag persona and uses it to execute their personal artistic expression.

Local drag queen, Miss Sophie Wright (Jordan Payne) has been involved in the drag community for just over two years.

As a theatre and performance major at the University of Lethbridge she believes having people understand drags’ roots is key to a more widespread acceptance of the art form.

“We have a responsibility to teach people where drag came from and how it started. We have to teach the beauty and the elegance and the weirdness. Because honestly it is really weird but beautiful and amazing,” said Wright.

The exuberant performer says she truly becomes her feminine self the moment she steps on stage.

“How I feel when I get into drag, I can’t even explain. It’s just so empowering and amazing. It’s a whole new me, I am not Jordan, I am Sophie,” said Wright.

Ivory believes drag has an even deeper purpose than just performance and art. She believes it inspires people to push boundaries without the fear of being discriminated against.

“When I’m in drag, I always find it’s not really for myself. As much as I love to get dressed up and feel pretty sometimes, I always find that when I’m in drag, my goal is to connect with someone else,” said Ivory.

Ivory also says the world of drag has created such amazing opportunities for people to show their own personal brand of art in mainstream media and fight for artistic freedom.

“Performing drag is powerful. It is a group of strong men and women that are constantly prepared to battle to help evolve and change the world. I’m so proud to be able to be a part of this community.”

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