Victoria isn't afraid of nitty-gritty, gender-bending drag

If you ask a Canadian to name a drag queen, they'll likely suggest Jimbo — and rightly so.

Jimbo, from Victoria, B.C., hit the big time when she won RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season 8 in 2023. She'd previously competed on Canada's Drag Race.

But Jimbo isn't the only drag performer in Victoria.

The latest episode of the CBC podcast This is Vancouver Island features a conversation with Sylvester Stalletto, a Victoria drag king.

He says drag isn't always the polished, glamourous style people might know from the popular Drag Race reality series — which features very feminine looks, including fashionable dresses, big hair, and makeup.

Jimbo, an internationally famous Canadian drag queen, is touring Canada this May and June.
Jimbo, an internationally famous Canadian drag queen, is based in Victoria, B.C. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

"Drag Race can make things look very polished," said Stalletto.

"But drag is not about being polished, it's about connecting with your community and bringing joy to someone."

Stalletto says he was at a low point in his life when he discovered drag, and it helped him feel comfortable in his own body.

"When I tried to fit into a binary of drag, it never felt right," he said.

Sylvester Stalletto, a drag king from Victoria, B.C., raises his hands triumphantly at a pride event in nearby Sidney, B.C. in June 2024.
Sylvester Stalletto says drag is all about the joy it brings to the community. (Colin Smith/submitted)

The fact that the Victoria scene included drag of all styles meant Stalletto could play around until he discovered a character that worked for him — one that isn't purely male or female.

"I think Victoria, it's not afraid of the absurd and the nitty-gritty."

To learn more about Sylvester Stalletto, listen to the latest episode of This is Vancouver Island.

Islanders, this is a podcast for you. Life on Vancouver Island isn't all sunset strolls and forest bathing — it can be frustrating, isolating and expensive. We're going to talk about the good, the bad and everything in between. Hosted by Kathryn Marlow, every Tuesday.

Tune into This is Vancouver Island every Tuesday on CBC Listen or wherever you get your podcasts.

With files from Stevie Welland