By David Cutting and Chase Hansen
VANCOUVER — It’s Saturday night at the Junction and it is standing room only. Everyone is gathered to see “Absolutely Dragulous,” Carlotta Gurl’s drag show that celebrated its five-year anniversary in February.
The music stops suddenly and changes to something iconically gay. The curtain beside the stage is thrown back and Carlotta Gurl makes her entrance, screaming at the top of her lungs, “WHAT’S UP BITCHES!” There is a strange, muffled sound as Carlotta shoves the microphone down her throat and everyone cheers.
Carlotta is a salacious vixen. Within minutes of opening the show, some random man sitting in the front row has lipstick smeared across his face. Carlotta croons, “Oh yea baby, you know you love it, I’ll see you later,” moving into her first number while flipping and twirling her way into the hearts of her fans. The crowd screams — all eyes are on Carlotta. “Absolutely Dragulous” is one of two weekly shows that Carlotta hosts at the Junction. Every Wednesday night she co-stars in “The Baron Gurl Show,” a collaborative gig with co-star Isolde N Baron (The Queen of East Van) that juxtaposes class and humour. Carlotta takes great pride in her high-energy shows — once, she even broke her leg on stage, but still continued performing until the end. The show, after all, must go on.
Carlotta got her start in drag shortly after to moving to Vancou- ver in the early 90s. She credits the queens on the scene at that time as the inspiration for her confidence. Her name, Carlotta, is an extension of her boy identity, Carl. Carlotta is capable of doing the things that Carl dreams up. The close connection between the two is something that both personalities acknowledge. “Sometimes when I am performing something I have always wanted to perform, Carlotta and Carl transcend and become one,” she says.
Carlotta often invites younger local drag queens to perform at her shows. “There is always another party” is a mantra she states reverently as we talk about advice she’d give to up-and-coming queens. The key to turning out phenomenal performances is rest, she insists — something she knows about first hand when burning the candle at both ends nearly ended her career.
Carlotta also believes herself to be an educator, gaining wisdom from years of collaboration with organizations, like TD bank and Tourism Vancouver, which respect her as an artist and performer. She sheds light on the fundamentals of drag, which draws upon impersonation and cross-dressing, but also creates something unique unto itself. One of its functions is to poke fun at mainstream culture. “It is important to remember that drag cannot be pigeon holed into what we see presented in the mainstream media,” she says. “Every queen is an artist and every artist is different. If you subjugate yourself to something or someone else, you will end up not liking or knowing yourself.” One thing is certain: the future of Carlotta Gurl is as bright at the lipstick she leaves on the faces of her audience members.
Carlotta Gurl performs at the Junction on Wednesday nights for “The Baron Gurl Show” and Saturday nights for “Absolutely Dragulous”Absolutely Dargulous, BC, British Columbia, Carlotta Gurl, drag, LGBT, The Baron Gurl Show, The Junction