Since winning the first season of Drag Race Canada, Priyanka has parlayed her success and become the best-known queen in Toronto and probably Canada. Now, we chat with her about her Art Gallery on Ontario show as part of this year’s Pride Toronto festivities, dealing with the ignorant haters and, yes, her fave local restaurants.
What are you up to at Pride this month?
Well I’m getting a big show at the AGO on June 9. And it’s gonna be f**king lit. I’m excited because last year, I had my Toronto party at Yonge-Dundas Square. And it feels so cool to be doing a more curated show in the gallery after a year of live singing and live performance under my belt. It feels like a grown-up way to come back for pride this year.
Are you shocked to see the anti-drag protests move north from America to Toronto?
It’s shocking. I mean, I always felt protected because I am Canadian, right? You see things going on in America and all over the world, and you say to yourself, “Oh, Canada isn’t like that.” Toronto is such a beautiful city where we’re all accepted. I can walk around in drag, no one will care. But because of laws being put into place in America, it has just awakened the conservative beast in many people all over the world that they [anti-drag protests] are really OK.
What does Pride mean to you?
It’s interesting because — although we just touched on those things — a big part of pride is the fearlessness of being a trans person, a queer person, a gay person, a bi person, whatever kind of person you want to be.
Tell us about your first Pride.
I remember my first Pride was like, seven years ago. I just came out of the closet, and I was met by all my friends who were like, “Wait, it’s your first Pride?” I remember walking up and down Church Street and everyone had glitter on their faces. And you know, they have the mom hugs and all this stuff. It was so inspiring to see how fearless these people were because I lived in the closet for so many years. So just to see that on the other side of how fun and happy it can be to be a gay person — that is my favourite part. And that’s why every single Pride I try to be as gay as possible because I hope that I can inspire the next generation of people who are closeted, who aren’t as comfortable being themselves to come on out and walk along Church Street and just feel as gay as they need to.
What was your first job?
Oh my god. A cashier at the grocery store. I got fired because I talked too much.
What was the worst piece of career advice you’ve received?
The worst piece of career advice I’ve ever received would be to not be vocal and do whatever anyone ever says because if I did that, then I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
What is your favourite Toronto view?
Probably down by the water. I love the water. Like, Spadina and Queens Quay where you can just look out at the water. That’s beautiful. The water is the best. Oh my god.
And where would you take visitors to the city?
I mean, personally, I will always take them to the gay bars, Crews & Tangos and Woody’s, but then, on top of that, I love being a tourist, so I would take them to Ripley’s Aquarium and CN Tower, but then also take them to Kensington Market, because actually the place is the bomb.
What Torontonian would you most like to hang out with?
I love these questions. I would say Nelly Furtado. She is the best.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What are your fave restaurants?
I always take everyone to New Ho King because it’s open late. But I also like Thai food, and there is Pai at Yonge and Eglinton. I would say those two in the city are my favourite. But usually for someone’s birthday, my mom makes us drive out to Markham to go to Sam Woo BBQ. It’s the best Chinese food in Canada.
What is your greatest fear?
I would say, probably, I don’t like snakes. And I’m afraid of stalkers.
Which living person do you most admire?
It has to be my mom. She’s hilarious.
What talent would you most like to have?
Flexibility. It’s not really a talent, it’s a skill though. I feel like I used to just get drunk on tequila and drop into the splits and now I’m not really drinking as much so those tricks aren’t happening. But there’s some people that can just do it because they grew up dancing and their hamstrings are stretched out. I would say that would be a skill slash talent that I would love.
What is your greatest extravagance?
M favourite thing is like to spend money on people, like buy them food. This is how I’m becoming my mom. She’s always like, cooking things for people and getting people food and I’ve become the same way. Whenever we go out, or my friends come over, I’m like, I’ll buy everyone food don’t work. I’ve gotta stop doing this, it’s getting expensive.
When and where were you happiest?
I just did DragCon in Los Angeles. I would say there because you’re just meeting fan after fan after a fan. I think a lot of us forget the impact that we have on people because we basically watch TV and movies that tell us to hate ourselves. So being somewhere like DragCon, people will tell you that you’re good at what you’re doing and you’ve changed their life. So I would say like that.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think my music is my greatest achievement because it is something that was a passion project that blew up and became a main thing in my career.
What is your most treasured possession?
I’m looking at it right now. It’s sitting in my living room. It’s my big finale dress from when I came back to crown Icesis Couture on Canada’s Drag Race season two. We cut up the dress that I won in for season one and put it into a bigger dress and I got my arms moulded by the same guy who does Jason Momoa’s prosthetics. So I had four arms on the runway. So that is my most prized possession because I feel like it was just a cultural shift. You know, like brown people are so happy whenever I wear this dress, because they’re like, you’re doing it for us. Brown people forever. So I would say that.
What is your greatest regret?
My greatest regret is a having a boyfriend during the season of Canada’s Drag Race.
What is your personal motto?
My personal motto is work so hard that your dreams come true because mine did motherf**ker.