Drag; to some, it’s entertainment. To others, it’s a way of life. And to everyone who loves drag, it’s truly an art form.
From underground balls in the 1920s to reality shows in 2020, drag has always strutted its way through the cross section of theatricality, makeup artistry, high fashion and creative expression. Drag Queens (and increasingly Kings) throw off the shackles of gender, embracing and opposing traditional norms in favor of cheeky and satirical spins on stereotypes, but making it fashion every single time. Having always been fascinated by the power and artistry of drag, and in awe of the immense talent and effort it takes to create and reacreate a drag persona, I was thrilled to chat with Toronto drag royalty, Lady Kunterpunt about what drag means to her.
Lady Kunterpunt brings together the silly and the spooky, cultivating a gorgeously ghoulish ghostly vibing clown. You can find her on Instagram, YouTube, and on the party scene with groups like POSI VIBEZ and Diet Ghosts. Lady Kunterpunt is also an ASMR artist, check it out if that’s your thing!
I asked Lady Kunterpunt all the questions I’ve ever had about the drag life, and a few more. Take a read below!
What drew you to drag?
I think initially it was the visual nature of drag; I’ve always been an art kid, and drag really lets you do a LOT with fashion, makeup, hair styling, prop use…What I didn’t realize then but realize now was that it was the theatricality of it all! From concepts, to creation, presentation… the whole experience of drag just looked like a lot of fun. Protip: It is!!
Tell us what it was like to cultivate the Lady Kunterpunt persona.
The Kunterpunt persona actually started online! I used to host these snatch game parties on private servers for The Sims Online and play with just a handful of other players. I’ve always adored the big campy personas of TV game show hosts like Drew Carey, RuPaul, or that dude from YTV’s UH-OH! So the more I did drag, the more I leaned into this campy, sorta slapstick character. I do my best to emulate the cartoons and video games of my childhood like Scooby Doo, Martin Mystery, The Sims… anything silly I can put a spooky twist on. Kunterpunt is really just my way of playing pretend as an adult, and frankly I’m having a lot of fun doing it.
What is your favorite thing about being a drag artist?
I think my favorite part is the actual process of transforming into Kunterpunt, like getting ready. Watching myself in the mirror become this fabulous clown lady just feels right, y’know? I can conquer the world in a clown nose, it’s the weirdest thing!!
Is there a strong drag community in Toronto? What’s it like to be a part of it?
There is a HUGE drag community here, it’s unbelievable. You can see different kinds of drag on any given night, we are super blessed to have such a vibrant community. Being surrounded by so much talent really keeps a clown on her toes, I’ll tell ya that!! But really, it’s very inspiring to have such a cool group of weirdos consistently making art. We help each other out a lot, there’s a bit of a drag economy that happens among performers in Toronto. Some people make their living that way! The community here is actually so large that we have a few distinct scenes happening simultaneously, from the artsy West End, to glamorous Church St, there’s a comedy queen circuit, an entire drag King scene that is just EXPLODING with talent right now… and remember that many of these scenes overlap as well. There’s just SO much! I can’t wait to see what pops up in the future.
What do you think would surprise people the most about being a drag queen?
Being a drag performer is NOT for the faint of heart. While I absolutely encourage everyone to try drag at least once, becoming a regular performer is no easy task. Drag can be ridiculously expensive (if you let it be). Drag is extremely inter-disciplinary, you need to know how to work with makeup, how to walk/dance/maneuver in all sorts of uncomfortable and limiting get-ups, you probably should know how to sew, wig and hair styling is VERY useful, you might wanna know how to make an audio mix, how to NETWORK amongst your peers, how to perform on a stage (if that’s your type of drag, at least)… I mean the list goes on and on. If you really wanna do drag, you’re essentially opening a business. Anticipate number crunching. Expect long, painful nights in shoes you really should have tried before you wore them out. And of course, being any kind of queen/king/clown/performer can be very emotionally exhausting…. and yet, something about the sound of applause can make it all worth it.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about being a drag queen?
I wish more people knew how hard we work, and I wish people knew better than to TOUCH US WITHOUT CONSENT!!!!!!!
What does drag mean to you?
Drag is freedom. The ultimate indulgence. Drag can really be anything at all, it’s sort of an identifier that “this art I am creating is a reflection of my own fantasy”, but that fantasy could really be ANYTHING. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what drag means, but when you see it, you’ll know it.
What drew you to the POSI VIBEZ community?
OH gosh, if I remember correctly it was photographer Kate Killet who reached out! She and my good friend Dylan Berryman were working on a Dragula themed Zine called Feel Your Fantasy, and they asked me to perform some numbers for their annual Spooky Vibes party. We had SUCH a good me, and the Zine is kick-ass! It was a pairing made by the gods. I really just loved the vibe, they had all these cool masks they made of the performers, a free glitter station, free CANDY…what I love about Posi-Vibes is that they just want to make art and have a good time. It was stress-free, easy breezin, AND it was a new crowd for me, which can sometimes be stressful. They’re just a good group of kids, y’know??
Where can we see more of Lady Kunterpunt?
Follow me on Instagram! @ladykunterpunt
Who is your drag idol?
But also, PeeWee Herman!!!