The Scarborough drag queen knows how to make an impression
Scarborough has sashayed away from Canada’s Drag Race.
Kimora Amour was the lone GTA queen left on season 2, but ended a memorable seven-episode run with one of the weirdest lip-syncs in Drag Race herstory.
After failing to deliver in a comedy roast of judge Brooke Lynn Hytes (which was very heavy on cosmetic surgery jokes) and getting read by the judges for an ill-fitting nude-illusion suit, Amour had to face off with Gia Metric to goopy hair-gelled Canadian boy band b4-4’s uncomfortably cheery ode to oral sex, Get Down.
The cast and judging panel, including guest judge Emma Hunter, were visibly incredulous as Amour stalked Metric around the stage. The song was going to be a challenge for both queens to pull off. And though it was clear Amour was not feeling it, you can’t say she phoned it in.
You can very much see the thirst and fire in the eyes of contestants like Pythia, Kendall Gender, Icesis Couture and Gia Metric, all queens who are clearly hungry for the crown. After this week’s episode, it was apparent Kimora Amour was done with Canada’s Drag Race.
It might be safe to assume the Toronto Kiki Ballroom scene member, pageant circuit veteran and Carnival costume designer will not be adding Get Down to her repertoire when the season 2 cast hits the road on a tour in the New Year.
“Coming off of a weird lip sync, I really want to show people that wasn’t me,” she says via Zoom the morning after. “Let me show you what I do.”
Although Amour says her reception from Canada’s Drag Race fans has been “mild,” she’s overall happy with the experience. She was one of the show’s funniest commentators in the interview segments and a risk-taker on the runway. Though she’s an experienced drag queen, she lives in Scarborough and competes on the pageant circuit. So she is less known in the Toronto bar scene compared with other drag performers who have not been cast on the show yet.
Amour is a father to a teenage son, a neuropathic pain management procedural nurse and a Carnival costume maker who learned the trade from her Guyanese mother. She saw Canada’s Drag Race as a chance to grow her audience and use the platform to represent not only Carnival culture but talk about difficult issues, like the history of slavery in Canada, racism and colourism.
“The state of the world is a sad place, but the wonderful thing about drag is that it gives us a little bit of sunshine on our cloudy days for the LGBTQ community. But we have a lot of growing to do within our own community,” she says. “Without the Black community, the gay community would not be here and we need that recognition. We need to be counted and it’s very important.”
We caught up with Kimora Amour to chat about that weird-ass lip sync, why Carnival and drag are the same and her friendship with season 1 queen Anastarzia Anaquway.
How did you become a drag queen?
I became a drag queen to sneak into the clubs. That’s originally how it started because they didn’t card drag queens. So at the tender age of 16, I was sneaking into clubs. That’s how I got into drag.
That’s an elaborate way to sneak into a club. A fake ID wasn’t an option?
I could not find one at that time. So no, it was not an option. A face full of makeup and a cute outfit worked nice. This was in Toronto but I won’t mention the clubs because they’re still open!
On Canada’s Drag Race you’re repping Scarborough.
I am repping Scarborough! That’s where I live. That’s where I was born. That’s what I do: Scarborough! I am in the centre of Scarborough. When I say I am from Scarborough, I am from SCAR-BOR-OUGH.
Did you ever have the temptation to move downtown to be closer to the drag scene?
I’m gonna say hell no. I contemplated it briefly when I was buying my condo, and then I saw what a downtown condo looked like and I said, I need more square footage. I stayed in Scarborough because I like room. I don’t do matchboxes.
You’re a designer in the Carnival world. Can you talk about the similarities and differences between designing for Carnival and doing drag?
There is no difference between Carnival and drag. Carnival is just a version of drag. Life in general is a version of drag for most people. Everyone usually wakes up looking horrible and they all put something on, and it’s just a form of drag. Carnival really is a luxurious celebration. It is a celebration of life. It’s a celebration of one’s personal self. It is the celebration of freedom for a lot of people. That and drag really does partner together really well because drag really is a celebration of life and a freedom for the LGBTQ community.
Can you talk about the feathered look you did during the Canadian icons runway? That was one of your most memorable looks on the show and it was a reference to Deborah Cox as Josephine Baker in the stage show Joesphine, but also Carnival?
Yes. The aesthetic that a lot of Carnival costumes take from are Folies Bergère and different types of Moulin Rouge aesthetics that we’ve made modern and brought into our own Carnival aesthetic. I was able to portray Deborah Cox as Josephine Baker in that Folies Bergère kind of aesthetic, but I had taken it and put my own spin on it by adding a feathered bum pack, which is one of my signature designs that I created many years ago. It was about being able to intertwine things that were from the past but can still relate to the present because the past is a part of the present.
That leads to another one of your memorable runways, which was a runway based on the seven deadly sins and you did a slavery look for “ugly as sin.” It was one of the first times on Drag Race that we’ve had a completely silent runway with no music and commentary. What was it like watching that back? Did you know how the producers were going to handle that moment?
No, I didn’t know how the producers were going to handle that moment. That moment was very emotional – very shockingly emotional for me. I really didn’t expect it to make myself as emotional as it did. I actually broke down in tears when I left the runway. It was powerful. It was meaningful and it was everything I wanted it to be and more. I’m happy I got that chance to portray that because I think that moment was so important not just for myself, but for hundreds of thousands of others. It really got to tell a story while also explaining a lot of pain and residual hurt that is felt within the Black community, the Caribbean community and the Latinx community. So often people forget that there are Black people in the Latinx community and they have been through the same exact things. It’s something that had to be talked about and discussed and dealt with and I think I did it eloquently.
Kimora Amour referenced the history of slavery in Canada during the “Ugly As Sin” runway on Canada’s Drag Race.
How big of a deal is it to do something like that, especially in the context of entertainment like Drag Race where you don’t know how it’s going to be a treated by the show or received by the audience? What was your thought process behind deciding to do it?
The thought process was very simple, actually. It was an open discussion between me and my sister Anastarzia Anaquway, because she was actually making the original garment I had planned to do. It was just going to be an ugly outfit. We talked about it and she was like, “I feel like this is something that would move the moment.” I was like, “Okay! I’m here for it!”
I didn’t know how I would portray it until I got there. I had to really sit down with myself and think about how I wanted to execute this because all I had was a garment. But I’m happy with the fact that I did do it. This is normally a very fun-filled show and to take something emotional – gut wrenching – and put it on a show that’s not always, I would say, politically correct in some aspects, made a difference. In general, we tackled a lot of tough issues on the show. We talked about colourism, racism and pronouns. There are so many things that we had discussed already by that point that I felt like it was the most appropriate place to do it and the safest place to do it.
Do you see the show as an opportunity to bring these different references to the forefront that aren’t often seen in Canadian media?
Absolutely. When it comes to Black culture, although there’s so much of it rooted in Canada, it’s not always discussed. It’s unfortunate that it takes Drag Race to really have some of these conversations. One of the Canadian Heritage Minutes that always stuck with me was the slave that was put in the coffin and brought to Nova Scotia. But we never really had any more storytelling of the Black experience post that. So being able to remind people that there are great Canadians who have done great things beautifully – bring it to the forefront is very important. When they said we want you to be a Canadian icon – to find a Black Canadian icon who has had a red carpet moment or big movie moment was very difficult. I had to do a lot of digging to find it. I hope that it just changes the narrative, that so many more Black-positive actors, actresses, moments can be put in the forefront.
You mentioned Anastarzia. Can you talk about that relationship? Have you been friends for a while?
We’ve unfortunately been friends for over seven years. [laughs] We actually met at a ball in the bathroom. We were both doing our makeup and we just had a small conversation. We became fast friends to the point that we’re literally family now. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re sisters – plain and simple. She’s a part of my family. I’m part of her family. We’re heading to see some of her cousins in a couple of days. We are always in each other’s company when it comes to life. I love that bitch.
She must have given you advice about going on the show.
Yeah. I think that’s one of the reasons why I approached the show differently. I didn’t approach the show as a competition. I didn’t approach the show as, “I see me winning and I’m going to be here to win.” I approached the show to have a good time. I approached the show as a medium for me to get who Kimora Amour is across to the to the world.
Kimora Amour turned a lip sync face-off to Get Down by B4-4 into a bizarre duet with Gia Metric.
That leads us into this week’s episode. We have to talk about that lip sync song b4-4, Get Down. I remember that song from back in the day…
From high school! That was the dirtiest song that they used to play when you had your school dance. And you’d be like, “YEAAAAAAAAAAH!” You know double entendre! This song is about SEX. Let’s be real. And not light, light, light petting. This is about nasty gutter ball SEX. It was very odd song for me because it’s not something I usually perform to.
I can’t picture many people performing to it.
It’s a boy band song, male music – it’s not my drag. [laughs]. At all!
So what was going through your mind in that moment? It was a very memorable lip sync because we had the impression, as you basically said beforehand, that you were ready to go home. You said it wasn’t your mentality – it was reality.
Nothing was going through my mind except for, “I’m done.” Literally the moment I hit that stage, I just blanked out. I could not tell you what happened on that stage if a camera had not been there filming to then show it to me later. I do not remember anything. I remember I was on the floor for about 2.5 seconds and then that was about it. Literally what was on my mind was I was finished. And when I’m finished with something, I’m finished with something. I just didn’t want to be there.
What did you think while watching it back?
I went to bed because I had to get up at three o’clock this morning to get in the drag because I had all these interviews to do. I actually haven’t watched it yet, but I haven’t watched last week’s episode either because I was in Virginia with Anastarzia for a pageant she was competing in. She’s now Miss Gay United States. I’ve missed a few episodes because I’ve been knee deep in real drag.
You made it pretty far into the competition. Did you just feel you achieved all you wanted to archive?
I showed everything I wanted to show. You had girls that were there fighting to be in the top. It got to a point where I was just like, “okay, I’m not here competing. These bitches are really here competing. Just step aside. Let them have their moment. Let them do what they have to do.” I’ve done what I needed to do. I’m good.
Watch a video version of this interview below:
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.