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Touring drag queens bring more glam to the city

Entertainer RuPaul sings on stage at the taping of the VH1 special, "VH1 Divas 2000: A Tribute to Diana Ross" in New York.

JEFF CHRISTENSEN/REUTERS

When a parade of drag queens strut their stuff at the Danforth Music Hall, the last thing it will be is a drag. Fans of the competitive reality-TV show RuPaul's Drag Race are in store for a glam-bam live event when the drag queen contestants bring their touring revue to Toronto on Saturday evening. We spoke to Michelle Visage, who is a judge on the television show and the host of the road show.

RuPaul's Drag Race has been on the air since 2009, but this touring edition is new. What's the difference between the two?

There's a big difference. In the television show, you get to see the drag queens in their own natural habitats. You see them out of drag. You see them interact with each other. The live show, of course, is live. It's not lip-synching. It's performance. These drag queens are actually singing or doing comedy or whatever it is that moves them that night.

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So, there's no competition element?

Not really, though there may be a personal battle for each one of the queens. Each one of them as an ego. So, perhaps an inner battle.

What kind of people attend the show? A lively bunch I would imagine.

It's a mixed crowd. We get a bunch of straight women and mothers of gay children. We get get a bunch of gay men obviously, and then we get a bunch of drag queens who will come in drag. For them it's a moment to show up and show our queens what they've got.

Oh, wow. So is there tension between the audience queens and the performing queens? Do things get wiggy?

Never! Never, because there's so much love and respect about what they do. So, the performers see the queens in the audience and they'll sing to them and talk with them. The performers totally love it. It makes them happy.

Now, I'm sure you're a fine host. But why isn't RuPaul herself on the road with this production?

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Well, there actually is a lot of RuPaul going on. We're all Ru's children. But, as to why she isn't touring, Ru's got so much on her plate that she has no time to take off and go on tour. I'm there as Ru's best friend and as the mother hen to the girls and as the host.

One of the tag lines to the television show is that it's the "search for America's next drag superstar." Does America actually need another one?

Of course. One is never enough of anything, my dear. Isn't that what the world is founded on? Gluttony? Greed?

And is RuPaul okay with the competition?

RuPaul is the best in the world, let alone the country. But I always think, and I think Ru feels the same way, that there's always room for more. That's what this is all about. Ru grew up with a whole bunch of incredible drag entertainers. She knows what's out there. And she wants to encourage the youth to keep it going.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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