After selling out venues in Nanaimo and the Rockies last spring, Nanaimo drag queen Joe Bembridge and his persona Miss Ellen Q are back with “a lip sync extravaganza for the ages.”
Bembridge introduced Nanaimo to his drag character last March in in his “one woman show,” Miss Ellen Q: A Drag Love Story. The production was so well received that once Bembridge returned from touring he was asked to remount it at Harbour City Theatre.
“It’s amazing how quickly Nanaimo has shown that they really like her so I knew that I wanted to do another show within the year,” he said.
Bembridge said he was surprised to hear from a lot of audience members that A Drag Love Story was their first drag show, because he viewed it more as a show with drag.
“A drag show’s regular format is mostly lip syncs. So it’s numbers and dance and some comedy in there,” he explained. “So that kind of plants the seed that I went, ‘Well, jeez, if a lot of people had never seen a drag show in its authentic form, why don’t we shift directions and give them that?’”
From Oct. 17 to 19 Bembridge is back at Harbour City Theatre for The Miss Ellen Q Show: A Drag Sister Story. In the cabaret-style show, Bembridge, who grew up in Canmore, Alta., will be joined by Calgary-based drag queen Visa De’Klein, whom Bembridge has been performing with in a touring drag troupe for the past six years. He said they “raised each other through our drag.”
“She is what you would refer to as a comedy queen,” Bembridge said. “Most of her routines are just hilarious and outrageous and sometimes a bit vulgar but all within good fun.”
Bembridge will also be joined by his new backup dancers the Kitty Gurrrls, modeled after the Pumas, the troupe he had when he used to perform in Banff.
“They became kind of celebrities in the community and people were like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to be a Puma, how do I get to be a Puma?’ … so hopefully we’re launching a new troupe of celebrity backup dancers,” he said.
Bembridge said his mandate is to bring drag to communities that don’t have their own drag scene. He said it’s a positive and uplifting art form and an important performance outlet for him.
“I really love continuing to explore this character and I love shopping for her. I always will,” he said. “I just ordered eight new wigs last night.”
WHAT’S ON … The Miss Ellen Q Show: A Drag Sister Story comes to Harbour City Theatre, 25 Victoria Rd., on Oct. 17 to 19. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30. Tickets $20 at Funk your Fashion, Guava and online.