Created by Isolde N. Barron (Cameron Mackenzie) and Peach Cobblah (Dave Deveau). A Zee Zee Theatre production, presented as part of the Magnetic North Festival. At the Cultch Historic Theatre on Saturday, June 8. No remaining performances
Drag shows are all about being flashy--crazy styles, raucous attitudes, and being as over-the-top as you can possibly be. But on the final night of the Magnetic North Festival, the audience was treated to a slow, intimate evening, delving into the substance behind the flair.
Tucked and Plucked: Vancouver’s Drag Herstory Live Onstage! is a show hosted by drag queen wives/real-life husbands Isolde N. Barron and Peach Cobblah (Cameron Mackenzie and Dave Deveau). They’ve been doing the show for several years in partnership with the Zee Zee Theatre; each time, they introduce audiences to the history of Vancouver’s drag scene. The theme of Saturday night’s show was Indigenous drag history, and featured performances and interviews with Indigenous drag performers.
The production is presented in a talk show format; the event description promises “the Rosie O’Donnell Show meets the Jerry Springer Show,” but it’s more like Oprah. The queens come up for a quiet chat with Isolde and Peach. They tell their stories of coming up in Vancouver’s clubs from the 1960s to now, and working with organizations like the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society, which was one of the first safe spaces for two-spirit performers. They get vulnerable, which, in a world of glitz and performance, they don’t get many chances to do.
Even the performances are subdued, as drag shows go. There are still sequins and bright makeup, but the songs are slower and more sensitive. But there are also long wigs and feathered earrings, and outfits with Indigenous patterns. It’s a beautiful and very intimate display of pride. The goal of the event is, the queens remind us, to preserve oral histories--queer histories as well as Indigenous ones, which don’t get written down. The way they thrive is through celebrations like this.
Peach and Isolde are as charming as ever as hosts. Even when the show’s energy comes down, they bring attitude and sass to keep the audience in a celebratory mood. They’re not bad as history teachers either. The duo brings a handy glossary of drag terms, and a timeline of the queer known universe (all the way back to The Big Bang, which was, they assure us, very gay).
It is exciting to know that drag has a place outside the loud and rough world of nightclubs--great news for its more introverted fans. Still, it’s hard not to miss the brash, energetic theatricality of its usual style. Pride month demands all the stops be pulled for celebrations, after all.