Judy Virago is a Toronto gender performance artist (read: fabulous drag superstar), was the NOW Magazine covergirl for the 2013 Pride Edition, and has been featured in numerous music videos, most recently for Canadian bands Times Neue Roman, Austra and Danko Jones. She hosts a monthly queer dance-party called BAD TUCK at the Beaver (1192 Queen St West), the next instalment of which is tomorrow evening. We caught up with the hot transgender star to find out all about her…
Give us a snippet about. What should people know?
I’m a transgender performance artist originally from New Zealand. I’ve been performing in various shades of gender since I was a kid, and love to use the nightclub setting to create interesting, personal and political public art.
What are the biggest challenges and best rewards about what you do?
When I first arrived in Toronto, one of the biggest challenges I faced was actually just getting the drag scene here to take me seriously. I brought a campy, outrageous style of drag with me from the Antipodes and people just didn’t know how to translate it through their North American idiom. But I worked hard, showed people the diversity of my style, and managed to cut myself a groove in the scene. A more general challenge these days is finding a guy who can date me, who can see through the glitter.
As for rewards, I really appreciate the quality of people I get to work with. I have the opportunity to work with some of Toronto’s most progressive artists and musicians. I have helped to foster a welcoming and safe environment for alternaqueer drag and burlesque performers (through co-founding the queer performance art collective, The House of Filth) and of course, I live for the applause, applause, applause!
What first drew you to the world of drag?
I guess I’ve always had an affinity for the fairer sex (which I see as one of many). I first came out on the ‘gay scene’ and idolized drag queens running the bars. They were just so perfectly constructed, and in command. I had been involved in theatre from a young age and saw drag as an opportunity to fuse my gender questioning with my performance aspirations. My first year in drag I won the local title, and never looked back.
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…Rob Ford smokes crack. And because I feel safe and welcome here. As a transgender woman, I don’t feel safe in every city I visit, but I haven’t had too many problems here. And the size of this place! I get to meet interesting new people every week.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Moisturizer, Jessica Lange, and Star Trek: Next Generation.
What are your favourite go-to designers/brands or accessories lines and why do you sport their fashions?
I buy pretty much all of my clothes from vintage stores in Kensinton Market, one size stores in Chinatown, and H&M. I can mix and match between these three to come up with affordably stylish, individual and eclectic looks.
Favourite singers to perform on stage?
Judy Garland, Joan Crawford and Marina and the Diamonds.
What products are always in your doubtlessly fabulous beauty/grooming bag?
Dark Yellow colour supplement from LUSH, any brand of pressed powder, NYX Extreme Purple liquid eyeliner, Hot Mama cheek colour from The Balm, Triple X Lip Gloss by NARS, Faux lipstick from MAC, Elizabeth Arden Lash Extending Mascara, Ultrabland makeup remover from LUSH, Argan oil for my hair, and Manifesto by Yves Saint Laurent.
What style trends are you obsessed with at the moment?
Witches. Wear something… black. I love to be layered up in varied textures of black fabrics. Capes are a must, high collared shirts, belted waists and peaked shoulders are always welcome.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with your busy life?
You can find me on Facebook under Judy Virago, I post all my upcoming events, and music videos there, and information about my monthly party, Bad Tuck. You can find me there at the Beaver (1192 Queen St West) this Saturday, November 9th, for this month’s edition, BAD TUCK: Sloven Coven. This month’s edition is a tribute to the current season of American Horror Story, thrown with the House of Filth.