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“This Is The Best My Show Has Ever Done!”- Peyote Ugly Comes To Saskatoon

By Will Yannacoulias

Photos by The Portrait Witch

Last May saw the rise in Regina of Peyote Ugly, a black-eyed burlesque show where alternative drag performers and indie punk rock bands bring their worlds together for a night of gritty, sexy fun. Five successful summer performances inspired promoter & performer Opal Hoggarth to plot an invasion, bringing Peyote Ugly to the Black Cat Tavern in Saskatoon November 19th. A mix of Regina and Saskatoon drag stars performed an early and a late set, with longtime local art-punk favourites Grimelda appearing as musical guests. The crowd, every inch as eclectic and raucous as the performers onstage, packed the room and established Peyote Ugly’s place as a province-wide drag phenomenon.

The Saskatoon scene was represented by Roxie Rollerr, an eight year veteran performer who has worked as a promoter in her own right as well as touring with the beloved YXE Drag Collective. “When it comes to a more alternative show, I find Saskatoon is a great place for that” Roxie told NSMZ. “We love to be able to stray away from the pageant aspects; cinchers, jewels and rhinestones. That’s lovely and we respect it, but being able to let your own freak flag fly is really something special. Every one of us (alternative drag performers) has our own little aesthetic when it comes down to that, and our own music too. This kind of music puts us in our own element, what we listen to at home and what makes us comfortable, which I really love.”

Saskatoon’s Grimelda played a 45 minute set of frantic, noisy punk rock between the early and late drag sets, keeping the chaotic energy of the night at a fevered pitch. Members Skyler Cafferata and Blair Colwell, who have incorporated women’s clothing into their onstage aesthetic for at least eight years, told NSMZ they felt their style was a good match for Peyote Ugly. “We’re learning that drag doesn’t have a genre, it’s a performance medium so you can inject any genre or style of music into it. We obviously feel it fits really well with us, they’re doing a drag show and bringing in these punk elements and we’re a punk band who incorporate drag and other styles of performance art into our stuff. It’s a really cool contrasting/complimentary match.”

Peyote Ugly promoter Opal Hoggarth, who performed and hosted the night as the lascivious Lala Bottomé, gave NSMZ a breathless interview shortly after the final encore. “I couldn’t be more happy with how the show turned out,” she shared. “In Saskatoon they’re just so ready for weird shit, this is the best my show has ever done.”

Punk and drag may seem like strange bedfellows, but Hoggarth says it was overlapping ideologies that inspired her to combine the two communities. “My desire to bring punk and drag together came from me getting more and more into the punk scene, I was really digging the aesthetic and the music and was inspired by the mentality of bringing together and helping marginalized people. The mosh pit mentality of ‘if someone is down, help them up’. From the beginning there were queer and trans people in the punk scene. I like to think I can use drag to help bring new people to the punk ideals of support one another, be really cool to one another, and don’t be a shitty person.”

Peyote Ugly seems like an idea destined for a bigger city, but Hoggarth assured NSMZ that her show is staying true to its local roots. “People tell me I should take my show to Vancouver or Toronto, but Regina (and Saskatchewan) needs another loud, opinionated queer person… and right now, that’s me!”

We at NSMZ met up at Peyote Ugly with our friends at Pride & Gender E-Zine. The night we were all celebrating the creativity and vivacity of the local queer community, a hate-fueled shooting at a Colorado LGBQT+ club left five innocent people dead. Please check out Rene's powerful editorial on Peyote Ugly & the importance of celebrating queer art.

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