The season two finale of Canada’s Drag Race is near and three contests remain: Icesis Couture, Pythia and Kendall Gender.
Iccesis Couture from Ottawa brought the fashion this season, winning both of the design challenges. Montreal-based queen Pythia served campy theatrics and won the Rusical and makeover challenge in episode eight (though surprisingly not a design challenge thanks to Icesis). Kendall Gender who hails from Vancouver brought bodysuits galore and charisma, winning the Brook Lynn Hytes roast challenge in episode seven.
This Thursday evening will determine Canada’s next Drag Superstar, winning a $100,000 cash prize along with beauty supplies from Shoppers Drug Mart.
But for these queens it doesn’t matter who wins. They value the family created from this show and the impact made with their platform. All three say they would be just as happy if the other won.
We chatted with the final three about their journey in a season that’s full of love, vulnerable moments and strong runways to boot.
Ramona Leitao: How do you feel being part of the top three?
Kendall Gender: It feels spectacular. Amazing. Show-stopping. Never before seen. Completely unique.
Icesis Couture: Correct.
Kendall Gender: It feels very correct! I think we have been all working so hard for so many years to get to this point. And it really feels like our dreams have finally come true. Especially the fact that we got to do this during a pandemic. It was definitely not something that I expected to happen. And making it all the way to the end is just so magical. I feel like I’m in a dream sequence.
Pythia: It’s so surreal, being part of the show that we have been watching for so long, way before I even came out. Back in high school, we watched season three and four [of RuPaul’s Drag Race]. I didn’t know what these people were. Is this a possibility for me in the future? So it’s super surreal now that we actually are in this position. It’s a super, super full circle moment.
Ramona Leitao: Was that something all three of you were expecting, being together in the top three?
Icesis Couture: Once the episodes went on, I definitely felt and knew that I would be beside Pythia and Kendall. I would also like to throw Gia in there. And I think that it’s a consensus between all of us that we literally thought the top four was going to be us.
Kendall Gender: I think that reunion moment shook us all up. We all sort of thought that the top four is going to be the same as in the finale. And it’s just going to be a reunion first, and then boom, it’s going to go into the finale. So that part was a zinger. They really tripped us out but that’s what you signed up for.
Ramona Leitao: Pythia, you never had to lip sync for your life up until that last episode. What was going through your mind when you had to lip sync not only once but twice.
Pythia: I was very scared. I made it this far to the reunion and we’re just going into the finale and then I can just do like a cute little lip sync number and hopefully win. But no. They were like, “Surprise! We’re going to see you perform on national television.”
It was really stressful because my drag is very theatrical. When I choose to perform on stages I have the aid of a costume, prop or certain story. I don’t really necessarily just pick a song and listen to it and perform. I admire people like Icesis and Kendall. I’m amazed at what they can do. I can’t do that. I’m more of a theatrical person. I’ll make something more campy and funny. I’ll pull out a dildo from my pants. You know what I mean? I was very scared. And to [lip sync to] “racacacaca” music. I was like, “I don’t know how to do this. RuPaul? Like what?”
Ramona Leitao: Yeah where do you pop a dildo out in that song?
Icesis Couture: You should have.
Kendall Gender: You should have.
Ramona Leitao: Kendall Gender, on and off screen, you’ve been very vocal about advancing human rights, whether it’s through your fundraisers, or just being loud and proud on social media and also through your looks and designs. I wanted to know why you find it important to use drag as a form of activism.
Kendall Gender: I think that drag and activism are so interlaced from literally day one. I didn’t really even know that it was an option to be a drag queen without being an activist. I feel the expectations in my mind, were just like “You have to be a leader in the community, and you have to do it.” It just felt very correct for me. It became so integral to who I am as a person and what I want to present to the world.
I get so much positivity from being able to uplift other people and show visible minorities or marginalized communities that there is representation out there and there is a space for everyone. It warms my entire soul to be able to get to do that. And it’s been so cool and spectacular to have this platform. You’re literally pushed into the stratosphere of this huge drag race world. And I feel very lucky to be able to be a catalyst for for this kind of environment.
Ramona Leitao: With this platform too, there’s been a lot of vulnerable moments that were shared. We’ve seen it, especially during this season. One of the biggest vulnerable moments was that prom episode, when you, Icesis, opened your heart to your daughter, Michaela. I wanted to know if you can tell us a bit more about how it felt being so vulnerable in that moment, and what type of impact you think you had in sharing that story.
Icesis Couture: In the beginning of the show, there was behind the scene conversation between me and production about what I was and was not comfortable with speaking about. I originally didn’t want to speak about it, not because I was ashamed of it. But just because I have worked so hard for so many years to change what happened to me into something positive. I didn’t want to give that situation that happened to me attention in a negative way. I put myself in that mindset after working so hard.
But when I stood there with Michaela and I saw that look in her eyes, the same look that I had, when I was going through all this, and I felt like I was alone, I knew that was the perfect time to share my story with her and with the world. I know there are so many kids and so many other people who feel exactly the same way that I did, the way that Michaela did. If me sharing my story is going to help one person not harm themselves, or one person to know that there are other options, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, then me being uncomfortable for that one moment doesn’t matter. In the long run, I’m truly helping people and I think that’s the most important thing.
I’ve gotten so many messages from people saying that “I went through similar situations,” “I’m currently in this situation.” Just seeing some sort of conversation or representation for mental illness truly gives them hope. Regardless of what the outcome of the show is, that alone is a big enough prize for me.
Ramona Leitao: What would you say was your biggest takeaway during your time this season?
Kendall Gender: I think I think for me, it was not being so hard on myself. I think that when you’re in this pressure cooker that is Drag Race, you don’t have connection to your family. You don’t have anything. So sometimes the judges’ critiques hurt you a little bit. But then after leaving and being able to reflect on it a little bit more, I just have a different perspective on it.
Icesis Couture: I’ve worked really, really hard to be comfortable with the person that I am. I thought it was set, especially at my age, pushing 35 and being the oldest girl on the show. I totally thought that part of my life was gone. And to be on the show and realize that all these feelings that I had when I was younger are still there and that it’s okay to be myself. I’m meant to be here. I’m meant to do these things.
Pythia: Coming from where I come from, in a very conservative, Greek Orthodox country, I never really felt like I would ever belong in any space. I never really saw life for myself, because I couldn’t identify with what I was seeing around me: the families, the people, the way they dressed. I never thought that I would be able to exist in a world where I could do what I want and people would love me for who I am because I was always taught that this was kind of an abomination and wrong. But the fact that I’ve met these people and they have changed my life, and they have become literally like my family, is the biggest thing for me. I’ve always said that glitter is thicker than blood.
Kendall Gender: I love that.
Pythia: I feel like the show really showed me that there is such a power that we have as queer people and drag artists to unify and become a support system for each other and a real family. They’re my family and I love them so much.
Ramona Leitao: So heartwarming. Now I feel bad for asking my next question.
Kendall Gender: Oh no!
Icesis Couture: Go for it.
Ramona Leitao: Why do you believe you’re Canada’s next Drag Superstar?
Kendall Gender: To echo what we were just saying, I believe that any of us would be an amazing representation of Canadian drag. I think that we all bring a lot of very unique perspectives and outlooks into the Canadian drag scene.
For me, in particular, I think the reason why I am the future of Canadian drag is because I have spent so much time trying to create an uplift to the entire community. I really believe that I will continue to do that, throughout this reign, if you will. That Kendall reign won’t let up. I just feel like I had to get a little rap.
Icesis Couture: All three of us would just be so happy if any one of us won. We truly mean that. That’s not just us doing interviews and saying that. We honestly love each other and each person. We all have something similar and we all bring something different.
For me, particularly, I feel like I’ve worked so hard. And I just feel like I was just born to do drag. Drag has literally changed my life for the better. And I want to show the world and I want to show everyone how special and life changing drag really is.
Pythia: I feel like we have touched so many people, all over the world, not just Canada. My DMs are so swarmed. I cannot even open all the messages that I’m getting from queer groups, people coming out to me and saying they’ve never seen someone like me on television before and how their parents are watching this show. I’m sure it’s the same for both of them, they present such a different part of drag.
I feel like us representing Canada as a top three is just so powerful and important because we represent such different parts of drag that the world needs to see. If magically, that crown goes to me, I feel like it’ll just validate these feelings for me as an immigrant being in Canada, and feeling like I’ve never had a part in this country before.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Watch our video with Icesis Couture, Pythia and Kendall Gender below.