And the winner of Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2016 is . . .

Judges’ curveball leads to some unexpected performances

The search for Vancouver’s Next Drag Superstar 2016 ended Feb 25, with Mila Dramatic taking home the title.

The top five finalists were all under 26 years old, as several new faces were rewarded for their hard work, regardless of experience.

Adam Zapple placed as the runner-up, with Coco Klein coming in third.

(Coco Klein makes the top three./Layla Cameron photo)

“I think the competition crowd especially is a young crowd,” says Mila, 25.

“Competition is such a good way to introduce yourself to drag and introduce yourself to the community,” she adds.

The finale opened with a fashion show, where competitors presented their drag sons or daughters, before performing a duet with them later in the show. The evening also featured a round of solo numbers, interspersed with performances by guest judge Trixie Mattel from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7.

(Guest judge Trixie Mattel woos the crowd./Layla Cameron photo)

However, the competition ended much like it started, making the finale feel anticlimactic at times.

Teayana did a large dance number similar to her first week’s performance, despite expressing throughout the competition that she wanted to prove herself as more than just a dancer.

The most surprising performance of the night came from Ilona. While her signature makeup and costumes were fierce, her duet and solo performances were not as engaging and didn’t compare to her numbers from previous weeks. (Maybe she should have saved some of those earlier performances for her finale — though she did light herself on fire in the finale, which was impressive.)

(Ilona sets herself on fire./Layla Cameron photo)

Adam Zapple seemed nervous during the fashion show and duet numbers. His nerves made more sense when he revealed his costume for his solo number. Pre-show jitters are understandable when one considers how much work it takes to complete such dramatic prosthetics during an intermission.


(“I got off stage from my duet and then all this happened,” says Adam Zapple, referring to his transformation during intermission./Layla Cameron photo)

Perhaps the sense of reservation and nervousness that seemed to dog some of the performers stemmed from the curveball the judges threw at them last week. After hearing that many of the competitors had been planning their finale numbers for weeks — long before they knew whether they’d snagged a spot in the finals — the judges decided to change it up.

Just five days before the finale — after each contestant had already emailed the judges their planned performance numbers — the judges announced they’d all have to choose new songs and routines.

“I feel like I could have maybe done something better had it not been for the twist of not being able to do the numbers we had originally planned,” Coco Klein says. “It could have been a higher-calibre show overall had they let us continue to do the numbers we had been planning since even before we had entered the competition.”

To her credit, Mila delivered a diverse range of performances throughout the night, showing that she was capable of leading group dance numbers, comedic routines and duets.

Here’s how she feels about winning the crown:

As for whether the Vancouver drag scene will be dominated by young talent, Zapple says there needs to be a balance.

“I think the old-style drag has a lot to teach us because they’ve refined it. They’ve been through it and there’s something very magical about it,” Zapple says. “I do think we need to find something new as well as the old.”

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Layla Cameron is a freelance journalist and PhD student at Simon Fraser University. She has been writing for Xtra since 2011, and can usually be found working for film festivals or exploring the west coast. You can contact Layla at or see more of her work at

Read More About:
Culture, Drag, Vancouver, Arts

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