08/26/2014 04:43 EDT | Updated 10/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Our Date With the Trashiest Drag Kings, Queens and Weirdos

Zack Russell

Zack Russell and Kayla Lorette recently cast iconic character actor Julian Richings to star in their upcoming film She Stoops To Conquer. In the film, Lorette plays an aspiring drag king who meets the real life version of her character (Richings) one night at a bar. You can check out the teaser here. "Our date with..." chronicles their experiences doing "research" at drag and burlesque shows around Toronto.

Performance: John Waters Trash Bash at the Gladstone Hotel, August 14.


I didn't know what to expect from the Trash Bash. This really friendly girl at my grocery store, after forcing me to buy a pluot (plum apricot hybrid), had mentioned the show because she saw a John Waters book in my shopping cart (I'm really popular at my grocery store). Was it an appropriate event for our first date with Julian Richings? Hard to say. If I'd known we'd be pelted with hardboiled eggs and see all that nudity I may have reconsidered. As it was, I arrived 40 minutes late and blissfully ignorant as to what was in store.


If you'd been on time, you wouldn't have seen us. I had Julian meet me at the Drake Hotel by mistake. We wandered the hotel for a while, asking people if they'd seen any "John Waters drag queens." No one there seemed particularly sure what they had seen that night ("Maybe?") so I looked up the event on my phone and we headed down the street. Fun fact about Trash Bash: it's part of The Crush Project, a queer performance series at the Gladstone. The idea behind the name is that we all have "creative crushes" on performers, and the event is a forum to celebrate those performers. So in that sense, a perfect place to bring Julian Richings, our creative crush, on this, our collective first date. Like any first date, I spent the first half hour searching for my personality. Never lose your personality at a John Waters themed drag show. Everyone there will have beautiful hair and specific tattoos and you will be forever bland.


The crowd was definitely rockabilly chic. The minute I got there I felt disappointed by my overall look. So drab. But I don't own cat eye glasses and will never have the tits to fill out a 1950's dress, so really, I was doomed from the start. When I got to the table you gave me a strange smile and I couldn't tell if you were drunk or if something terrible had just happened. On the way there I kept picturing you and Julian sitting in silence while a woman rubbed something on her breasts in front of you. Anyway I apologized for being late and Julian bought me a beer and I felt instantly better. Still wasn't ready to watch nudity with him, but better. And then the show started!


John Waters, our host


The host was a very accurate John Waters impersonator. Almost too accurate. I immediately started worrying Julian thought we were creeps for bringing him here. There have been so many chances for Julian to find us creepy. Oh, you aren't freaked out that we made a prosthetic version of your face? How about we send you a video of Kayla wearing it? Still cool? Then let's all go to this hotel bar and watch some people get naked at 9p.m. on a weeknight.


I had the same anxieties -- but then Judy Virago took the stage and all was right. Judy is one of my favourite performers in the city. She's so beautiful and funny, with such mischievous venom. She played Connie Marble from Pink Flamingos and it was revelatory. The performance started with some lip synching from the film, followed by a performance of Lily Allen's Fuck You Very Much. At one point her dress came off to reveal these gorgeous pasties. One tit said "fuck" and the other "you" -- all in rhinestones!


The whole thing made me love Lily Allen in very a pure, uncomplicated way. That is the brilliance of Judy Virago: everything she touches turns to unironic perfection.


Connie Marble, so bitchy and beautiful


I had an ex-lover say I look like Lily Allen once. I think it was just an excuse to text me... anyway! Next up was the very talented Julie Bot playing Edie, the egg lady, also from Pink Flamingos. She emerged from the audience and started throwing eggs at everyone. There's nothing more upsetting than an unwelcome hard-boiled egg. The smell. The texture. The creaminess. When she walked by our table I felt a surge of protectiveness towards Julian. Although I didn't want to touch the eggs, I took one from her so she wouldn't bother us.


Edie and her eggs


I was impressed when you took that egg. I didn't understand why you were doing it (no one else was actually taking the eggs) but I was impressed. After Edie's act, everything felt tame. Maybe I was desensitized by the threat of eggs? When a topless woman with a huge dildo (the talented Aviva The Mirage) did Pink Flamingos' Raymond Marble, I thought: "oh, fun." Watching Tanya Cheex snort makeup and inject eyeliner as Donna Dasher (Female Trouble) was surprisingly relaxing, soothing even.

It wasn't until Fay Slift's turn as Tracy Turnblad that I felt my nausea float back. With three wonderful back-up dancers including the very funny Fluffy Souffle, their number from Hairspray was pure beautiful trash. While Fay did her thing (sporting an out-of-control beard and flower-festooned dress) the back-up dancers sprayed litres of hairspray on themselves and the audience. Have you ever been high on hairspray? It's surprisingly heady, a bit like champagne... the champagne of gasoline?


Tracy Turnblad and her Corny Collins dancers


I just loved those back-up dancers. They were perfectly off-tempo and so committed to their props. I mean anyone can spray a bit of hairspray, but it takes a certain kind of performer to ingest an entire can of the stuff and still be so charming.


Trixie Beaver and Fluffy Souffle with the all-important hairspray


Quantity over quality. That's what I learned. Filth is about quantity. The more "too much" something is, the better.


These are the kinds of people we need to get in our film. Not that I'm going to ask someone to eat dog shit, but if it were to come up...


Oh they'd have to eat a whole lot of shit to rival the performers at Trash Bash. It really was a magical night. And I think Julian had fun! A perfect first date after all.


Aqua Vulva as Serial Mom, surrounded by her wonderfully filthy posse


So no regrets?


My only regret is not being friends with John Waters. John, if you're reading this...


A double date awaits you.

Photographs by Richard Rhyme. Stay tuned to the Crush Project's Facebook page for future shows. And check out Zack & Kayla's upcoming film!


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