“Finish this sentence: Something old, something new, something borrowed . . .”
House of Filth co-founder, New Zealand-to-Toronto transplant and drag queen extraordinaire Judy Virago doesn’t hesitate a second, “Something rotten.”
When I first heard Judy was getting hitched to her longtime partner, Jovian, I felt there was something perverse, melancholy and final about it, like an uncomfortable orgasm with an anonymous stranger from Craigslist, or a celebrity death. After all, she’ll be leaving her home of half a dozen years — not to mention the irrepressible members of the House of Filth — to travel the world.
Judy and Jovian will have a civil ceremony and, following that, an uncivil one: a House of Filth — think a mafia family if it were made up of freaky, queer drag queens — wedding at the Beaver, with House co-founder and corn-fed prairie girl Igby Lizzard as the celebrant.
“I’m really worried I’m going to get a cake in the face before I get to say I do,” says Judy. “Or, right after.” For the House of Filth, that seems mild.
Over iced beverages on a hot Toronto summer day, Judy tells me of her great romance. Jovian and Judy met at a queer university conference 10 years ago; Judy almost ended up not going, but a seat in a car opened up at the last minute. “I saw him . . . he had terrible style. He had, like, blond dreads and all rainbow accessories. He spoke Spanish — he’s not Spanish — and one of my friends also spoke Spanish, so I was like, ‘Go be friends with that boy, I want to be friends with him.’”
They flirted a little after that initial meeting, and then that evening Judy performed drag with her friend and he couldn’t remember which one she was, which wasn’t helped by Judy and her co-performer swapping wigs throughout the night, “By the end of the night he was thoroughly confused as to which one I was, but I got him drunk on a bottle of champagne . . . he didn’t go back to his room, and then the next day we sat next to each other. It was really cute!”
They had a long distance relationship for the first few years, living in the same cities in their homeland of New Zealand on and off; “He finished his masters and wanted to come to Toronto to do his PhD and it was my turn to move, so that’s how I ended up here!”
Judy will be gone for about a year following the marriage, traveling Europe and then the world with Jovian, including her first trip back to New Zealand since moving to Canada. The party at the Beaver will be a bittersweet night of tears and other bodily fluids.
“I’ve asked all the girls to do a wedding-themed performance . . . it’s all going to be a surprise to me, so I can only imagine there’s going to be incredibly blasphemous and anti-matrimonial sentiments expressed,” she says. “Allysin [Chaynes] wants to be the best man, Dottie [Dangerfield]’s going to be the flower girl . . . Nancy [Bocock]’s absolutely the drunk uncle and Igby’s the mother of the bride.”
It feels right that, after a non-stop Pride season, the House of Filth will get the chance to say goodbye from their base of operations. “The Beaver’s been like a home for me, and I don’t want to call it a farewell party, because I’m coming back, but it felt appropriate to take things back to my home bar,” Judy says. “It’ll be the last time the core members of the House of Filth are performing together.”
Just a warning, rice won’t be the only thing flung. At a House of Filth wedding, those in the first three rows will get wet.
Judy’s Getting Married
Thursday, Aug 18, 2016, 9pm
The Beaver, 1192 Queen St W, Toronto
Editor’s note, Aug 16, 2016: Judy and Jovian met 10 years ago, not 19 years ago.