Getting to Know Deb From Winnipeg

DAIR Artist Spotlight Deb

With the announcement of our Drag Artist In Residence at the upcoming Showcase, we're taking a moment to highlight our three finalists.

Meet Deb From Winnipeg!

Click here for Dirt and Ruby Chopstix.

Q: Can you introduce us to your drag persona “Deb From Winnipeg”?

So Deb is from Winnipeg… which you may have gathered. Deb represents my exciting journey as a newer drag performer. Currently, I'm exploring a captivating and experimental phase in my drag. I find myself drawn to the intersection of campiness and sexy, with a touch of playfulness that might be described as a bit clowny. While my online presence might not fully capture these aspects, I've been actively working behind the scenes to shape and refine my drag identity.

Q: What got you interested itn Drag and what was your journey like to become the artist you are today?

A: My fascination with drag dates back to my high school days, around the time when RuPaul's Drag Race first aired. Although the show was different then and not without its issues, it served as a significant entry point into the world of drag for many, including myself. I vividly remember watching it on a pixelated, questionable stream in my dark bedroom and feeling a tremendous excitement.

However, being a trans man, I initially perceived drag as something that wasn't for me. Despite enjoying it, I felt detached and believed it wasn't a space where I belonged. This mindset persisted for years, and even though I imagined myself doing drag, the show created a barrier that I thought I couldn't overcome.

Fast forward to the pandemic era, where I found myself playing with makeup and delving into gender exploration. My interest in drag deepened as I explored queer theory through texts and books, gaining valuable insights into queer culture and communities.

During this journey, my supportive partner, who is a talented makeup artist, and the incredible Hellen Bedd D'Sloot, a stunning drag artist and now my drag mom, played crucial roles. Their encouragement and support propelled me into the world of drag, where I've completely fallen in love with the art form. Today, I find myself captivated by drag, grateful for the supportive community I've discovered, and excited for the continued evolution of my own drag persona.

Q: What inspires your drag aesthetic or performance style?

My inspiration often stems from unconventional sources, like one book that has profoundly impacted me is "Cruising Utopia." Though not directly related to drag, it explores the concept of exploring one's futurity, sparking excitement and opening up countless possibilities which does transfer nicely within the realm of drag.

I find inspiration in various drag artists, particularly those who identify as two-spirit, trans, non-binary, or differently gendered. Beyond the drag context, I draw from my fine arts background, exploring contemporary art styles and regularly scouring thrift stores for unique pieces. I'm particularly fascinated by vibrant colors, clown aesthetics, and avant-garde styles.

In crafting Deb's persona, I intentionally incorporate elements that I may not be in my day-to-day life, experimenting with different facets of identity. Additionally, I delve into the rich history of drag, taking cues from the club kid era and exploring visual artists from the New York scene in the late 70s, 80s, and 90s. Performance art and the realm of the peculiar and unusual also serve as significant sources of inspiration for me.

Q: What do you love most about Manitoba?

Manitoba's drag scene is truly something special, even though we may not have the same numbers as bigger cities. But let me tell you, the talent here is top-notch. The Winnipeg drag community really knows how to stand out and make a connection. Drag has this magical vibe no matter where you go, and Manitoba is no exception. This residency is a chance to shine a spotlight on the amazing talent we have right here in our own community.

But it's not just about the performances. Manitoba's drag scene is so much more. We've got organizers, activists, and artists pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to express themselves. It's this diversity and creativity that makes our drag culture so vibrant.

And let's not forget about the Indigenous drag performers. Manitoba has a substantial Indigenous population, and their representation in the drag scene is something to be celebrated. From Two-Spirit queens to a whole range of talented individuals, they bring a unique and invaluable perspective to our local drag scene.

Q: What do you think drag contributes to society, and why is it so important to Queer & Trans communities?

A: The significance of drag in Queer and Trans communities cannot be overstated. It plays a crucial role in cultural impact, community building, and preserving our history. As I envision its future, drag becomes a powerful tool for creating hope and evoking a range of emotions. It instills a sense of pride and fosters a strong connection within the community.

The enduring presence of drag performers ensures that this art form will persist, offering whatever individuals need from it—be it joy, empowerment, or a sense of belonging. On a political level, drag has always held immense importance, historically serving as a catalyst for queer rights. Trans women of color, especially, have played a pivotal role, using drag as a form of loud activism to assert their right to exist, express themselves, and enjoy life without being perceived as a threat. Drag continues to be a powerful means of challenging societal norms and advocating for equality.