Three Kelowna drag queens have come together to launch a collective designed to not only support Okanagan drag queens but to create more spaces and opportunities for such queens to perform throughout the valley.
The Okanagan Drag Collective (OKDC) — currently composed of Ella Lamoureux, Jenna Telz and Chastity Caige — hosted their first show as a co-op at Kelowna’s DunnEnzies Pizza Mission location on Saturday (Nov. 20), featuring local drag queen Bell Ini as the group’s first guest performer.
As Telz puts it, OKDC is a collective effort by drag queens for drag queens.
“A lot of the time, for bookings and stuff, we’re booked by a promoter who sells tickets for $20 and sells 100 of them and only gives us $150,” said Telz. “What we do is we split it all equally instead, so we end up doing better. It’s more of a democratic way of running a business because the workers are the owners.”
In addition to Kelowna, the OKDC is planning on hosting shows in Vernon, Penticton, Salmon Arm and Kamloops. The idea is that the three current members will travel throughout the Okanagan and feature a guest at each show, which would ideally be a local queen from the respective town. As the group travels and performs, the plan is to add permanent members to the OKDC.
“We always need to be supportive. That’s one thing I find that a lot of people forget, like (RuPaul’s) Drag Race as well. They forget that this started out as a sisterhood and that’s working together to create change,” said Lamoureux.
“Now it’s all one for themselves, so we’re just bringing it back to how it used to be, which is us having fun together, unified and building each other up instead of bringing each other down.”
By working together, Lamoureux said, drag queens will be working more.
“We realized that it’s better to have a community or a collective so we can work together and build instead of having one person do their thing,” she said.
In the OKDC, everyone gets paid the same amount, from the core members to the guests involved.
“The goal of a worker collective or a co-op is to provide employment for the employees. So, instead of having someone who owns a business trying to make money off of what we do, we are making money ourselves,” said Telz. “We are the business altogether.”
The OKDC is hoping to build towards hosting three to four shows a week throughout venues across the Okanagan Valley. By creating more spaces for queens to perform, the hope is that this will also help pave the way for more safe and comfortable spaces for Okanagan’s queer community.
“Everyone has a space that would make them feel the most comfortable,” said Caige. “It’s great to be able to provide those spaces, and also provide work and experience for local drag queens.”
The OKDC’s second show is scheduled at Penticton’s Brexit Pub on Dec. 16. Two more shows are scheduled in Kelowna at DunnEnzies Pizza Mission location on Dec. 18: an all-ages show at 1 p.m. and a late show at 8 p.m. Tickets are available here.