Canada's drag kings pick their favourite performance songs
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An unforgettable drag king show relies on knock-out performances, but at least part of the rush comes from picking the right music.
Whether it's rousing pop anthems from Adam Lambert or the seductive androgyny of David Bowie, reaching for unmistakable iconography is an essential ingredient for many of Canada's king shows.
Others rely on unearthing rare tracks — from hair-metal to Caribbean beats — to capture the right tone for their piece.
"It's difficult to pinpoint what genres of music you'll hear," says Joy Serrano, who performs as Mike Hunt-Black in the Toronto area.
"Some kings choose Top 40 hits while others play something more obscure that forces you to search for the lyrics on your phone."
We asked some of the country's drag kings to select their essential songs:
"Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield: "I perform as part of a duo with my wife — we are the Brokeback Brothers. Our style of drag is purposeful and campy depictions of different forms of masculinity, hence we like songs that play up or speak to both gay and straight masculine camp with very queer or hyper-sexual subtexts. I'm also a huge classic rock fan."
- Nadine Boulay, Vancouver
"Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)" by Big and Rich: "It's a ridiculously over-compensating example of masculinity and drag kings revel in over-the-top campy masculinity. So many kings have done it and it's a fun crowd pleaser."
- Master Cameron Eric Leon, Ottawa
"We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister: "I'm a 'costume king' at heart ... so the opportunity to pull out an epic glam-rock piece with face paint, huge costumes and attitude is so much fun. Plus (the song) will always hold a special place in my heart because I met my youngest fan — five years old — doing that number at an all-ages show."
- Clark Kant, Halifax
"Bend Over" by Machel Montano: "Performing this soca track allows me to get up close and personal with my audience. When it comes to the chorus, I like to flaunt my whining skills (a Caribbean dance that's centres on dramatic pelvic rotations) and have fun with the song in general. It's catchy!"
- Mike Hunt-Black, Toronto
"I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by the Darkness: "This is the first solo I ever performed, so it has a special place in my heart. I love '00s one-hit wonders, and the theatrical vocals and sweet guitar licks on this track are delicious."
- Rose Butch, Vancouver
Hear the entire selection with "A Royal Playlist - Drag Kings Pick Their Favourites" on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/cdnpressarts/playlist/1gACBbFVSNG5H1H7YsPFSl
In Focus: Richard Crouse