Meet Erin Brockobić. Corporate employee by day, fierce Drag Queen by night; this Toronto Queen is bringing us comedy, lip-syncs and just overall a rocking good time. I had the chance to ask her a few questions about Toronto drag, PRIDE Month, and her newest partnership with Bud Light Canada. You can find her performing on the patio at Crews and Tangos, or on her daily Twitch livestreams.
Who is Erin Brockobić? Tell me about how she came to be and ways that you have evolved as Erin throughout your years as a drag performer.
I describe Erin Brockobić as the Eastern European business lady of the 80s. The first night I ever did drag some of my friends named me after Erin Brockovich, iconic lawyer portrayed by Julia Roberts in the film of the same name. I wanted to add some Serbian flare to my drag name so the “ić” ending was added in honour of my heritage and I always loved looking at photos of my mom from the 80s.
Erin started as a sheepish “comedy” queen who had two left feet, and I think she has blossomed into a rather fierce entertainer. She lip syncs, she can do choreography, and she’s doing stand-up comedy whenever she has a microphone in her hand.
How has the pandemic changed the way you do drag? What does a typical day in the life of Erin look like now, post-pandemic?
The pandemic has taught me a lot about the importance of visuals and aesthetics. It’s really hard to show off your comedy skills in a Zoom meeting with a delay, or to get the most out of your dance costumes when you’re dancing in a shoebox apartment. I am much more aware of how to mix and match pieces now, create striking visuals with few resources, and leverage engagement through video platforms like Twitch and TikTok.
A typical day will hopefully look like waking up at 7:30am for my office job, closing the work computer at 4:30pm, turning on my gaming PC for a livestream on my Twitch account from 5-7pm and then heading down to Crews and Tangos for a patio show at 8:30pm. Busy to say the least…
I consider Drag Queens to be some of the most well-rounded performers in the entertainment industry. What is your favourite part of being on stage/performing?
I absolutely live for the connection you can make with the audience as a drag queen. Whether it’s performing a song or talking on a microphone, sharing that moment with an audience member where you both understand each other is just so lovely. Making people laugh and helping people escape the seriousness of daily life, even if for a fleeting moment, will always be my favourite part of performing.
Can you tell me about your initiative with Bud Light for PRIDE? What drew you to that project and why is it important to you?
I’m really excited to be partnering with Bud Light Canada this year as they are a longstanding supporter of Pride! This year we partnered on an initiative aimed at celebrating LGBTQ+ coming out stories across Canada. Historically, coming out stories are only about acceptance, but Bud Light wants to help evolve the narrative to encourage celebration. So, this month through budlight.ca, Canadians can celebrate someone in their life by nominating a member of the LGBTQ+ community who has come out and ensure they are celebrated in a unique and memorable way – be it a drag queen shout out or a huge billboard in a major Canadian city.
I was drawn to the project with Bud Light because coming out truly deserves to be celebrated, especially in these, and I hate to say it, “unprecedented times”. We are living and working and socializing virtually and we’ve all lost a lot of genuine human connection over the past year and a half. Prior to the pandemic, if you came out you could connect with your community by attending a drag brunch, or volunteering at an LGBT+ organization or joining a queer-friendly sports league. Why not help bring some humanity back to coming out with some personalized videos after being disconnected from our community for so long?
I encourage everyone to visit bulight.ca/pride for more info and to nominate someone in their life this Pride month!
What does PRIDE mean to you? How do you celebrate PRIDE outside of drag?
Pride is all about feeling connected to your community: past, present and future. We need to honour queer and trans activists who laid the groundwork for us like Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Stormé DeLarverie. Out of drag, I like to attend talks, panels and presentations on the history of Pride and why it’s so important to remember the origins of the movement. These talks help guide my approach to how we handle and talk about pride today and how we will continue to support pride in the future.
How do you think Toronto as a whole can be more inclusive, accepting, and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community?
Well, the list is very long, and I don’t want people to think the fight for inclusivity ended with marriage equality. You can support movements to end the blood ban in Canada. You can donate time or money to organizations helping to support Black queer and trans folks in the city. You can do the same to uplift the two-spirit community in Toronto. You can write to your city councillors and the mayor to discuss alternatives to policing so that our Black, Indigenous and other racialized community members feel safer.
What is the most important lesson you have learned about yourself through drag?
Drag has taught me to not sweat the small stuff. All the things I take so seriously in my life out of drag really lose their weight when I put on a wig, makeup and costume. You get an annoying email from your boss? Doesn’t matter. You’re cooking dinner and you burn everything by accident? Doesn’t matter. You’re talking to a guy and he ghosts you out of nowhere? Doesn’t matter. It really helps put into perspective that nothing is as important as it seems, so why not laugh it off and move on?
What is the future of Toronto drag? What advice would you give to up-and-coming Canadian queens?
The future of Toronto drag is BOUNDLESS. The future of Toronto drag is non-binary, it’s AFAB (assigned female at birth), it’s drag kings and other gender performers.
My advice to any new performers: figure out your message/vantage point before you figure anything else out. Makeup, costumes, hair, performing, those are all skills that can be honed through practice. Having a clear perspective on your drag will always guide you in the right direction and help you find your niche, instead of getting lost in what everyone else is doing.
What’s coming up next for Erin Brockobić? Can you give us any insight into what the rest of the year will bring for you?
Oh gosh, who knows?! I don’t, that’s for sure. I am excited to return to in-person performances, even if it’s just patios and outdoor spaces for now. I look forward to developing a workshop about the intersections between entrepreneurship and drag. I want to see how my Twitch channel grows and how I will grow as a streamer. And you never know, I may just want to get a working holiday visa and live in New Zealand for a year!
Where are your favourite places to buy wigs, clothes and make-up in The 6ix?
I almost exclusively get my wigs through local hair stylist WigZaddy. Clothes are tricky because there isn’t a massive “drag costume” market in Canada compared to the offerings in the US (and I’m 6’5” out of drag, so few stores make anything that fits me). I love to work with Lucinda Miu, a local designer who did lots of outfits for the performers on Season 1 of Canada’s Drag Race. And when it comes to makeup, drugstore all the way. Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall have almost every single drag necessity at half the price of the fancy makeup stores.
What are your favourite patios in The 6ix? Restaurants for takeout?
I have to give a special shout-out to my lovely friends at Glad Day Bookshop, their patio space is looking so colourful right now. And definitely Crews and Tangos for the patio drag shows!
In terms of takeout, Si Lom Thai Bistro in the Church-Wellesley Village always satisfies my cravings. Hair of the Dog Neighbourhood Pub for the drinks. And of course, Craig’s Cookies for dessert!
Who are your favourite Toronto designers both in and out of drag?
I only recently discovered their work, but L’Uomo Strano by Mic. Carter makes some of the most stunning pieces I have ever seen. Check out ZOFF, he does amazing work and makes super fashionable masks. There is also SILENCIA Eyewear, and Nina Spade who make the most striking accessories.