She’s snot your average booger queen! Irma Gerd blew (her nose) right into the competition on Canada’s Drag Race in a gooey green dress made out of gelatin, armed with a campy sensibility and a deep arsenal of nasal mucus puns.
Arriving from St. John’s by way of the small town of Corner Brook, Gerd made herstory as the first contestant from Newfoundland and Labrador. The drag queen charmed audiences with her quick wit, clever costumes and stellar Marilyn Monroe impression. While she ultimately went home following a performance in the Rusical that didn’t connect with the judges, Gerd made the whole East Coast proud with her run on Canada’s Drag Race.
After her elimination, Gerd sat down with Xtra’s After The Sashay to talk about why she’s proud of her Rusical performance, her origins in Toronto’s queer art scene and her cameo in a Grimes music video.
Irma Gerd, I can’t believe you’re here!
I was bummed to see your elimination.
It’s bittersweet, isn’t it?
Let’s start at the beginning of the episode. The girls didn’t seem to think much of your lip sync against Bom!
Girl, they did not eat it. They said, “Camp? No, thank you!”
Did it bother you they didn’t like your dance moves?
No! I was happy to be there. I just won a lip sync!
You’re the very first contestant from Newfoundland. What’s it like being a drag performer in St. John’s?
We don’t have access to as many things. We only have one fabric store. Getting ready for Drag Race was a challenge. But that makes you resourceful. If you don’t have access to someone who can do a latex gown, what am I going to do? I’m going to go to Bulk Barn and get as much gelatin as I can and I’m going to make that into a little goopy mixture with some glycerin and I’m going to make a dress out of that. That’s how we made my entrance look!
St. John’s just got its first drag bar, Kaleidoscope, which is owned in part by the drag queen Barbra Bardot! How does drag fit into all the Irish pubs, folk music and straight culture of St. John’s nightlife?
Barbra is one of the four owners of Kaleidoscope. It’s on George St., which has the most bars per square foot in North America. They’re crammed together! It’s all straight people getting wasted and dancing to jigs. It’s a straight culture, there’s one other gay bar and it’s off the strip. To have a place right in the heart of George Street and say, “We’re here, we’re queer” [is important].
People are supporting it! It’s been packed every time I’ve been there. People are very excited about the whole thing and I am too!
You may be a Newfoundlander, but you started drag in Toronto’s west end. You used to hang around with performers like Judy Virago, Igby Lizzard and Allysin Chaynes from the House of Filth. How did the west end queer art scene influence your art?
Judy Virago is my drag mother, though she never lets me call her mother in public because it ages her terribly. She was such an inspiration, seeing her on stage and the chokehold she had on the audience – she just had them in the palm of her hand. I wanted that for myself.
You’re now a mother yourself–mother of the Phlegm Fatales!
Don’t call me mother, it ages me terribly.
For those who don’t know, tell us a bit about your drag family.
The Phlegm Fatales are an all non-binary drag collective here floating on a rock in the ocean. We do group shows, they’re narrative-based, a mix between theatre and a drag show. They get political, they get sappy, they’re silly. It’s everything you want.
They’re so talented and so weird. They need to all get on Drag Race or Dragula, they need to be televised. The world needs to know about the Phlegms.
You’ve said that your drag is all about subverting gender. What ideas about gender do you want the viewer to walk away with when they encounter Irma?
I want people to understand they don’t have to make a choice on gender. It’s not something you ever have to commit to. There’s never a clear “yes” or “no” on something. Everything is kind of in grayscale. Grayscale but in green!
You’re in a Grimes video! How did you end up in “Kill V Maim”?
I’m in two! One of my best friends in the world, Sam Sferrazza, and his partner produced both of them. I worked in the art department on “Kill V Maim” and got roped into [appearing in] that blood rave and made out with Allysin Chaynes. It was really fun. They did the one with Janelle Monae, “Venus Fly.” I happened to be visiting and they said, “We can get you a job doing craft services.”
You landed in the bottom this week, but how did you feel about your performance in the Rusical?
I’m so proud of it! I got to live my Broadway fantasy. I got to do the thing! I lived for it. Was I the best singer there? Maybe! Unfortunately I don’t think vocal chops were part of the judging criteria. And it seems like the week before the runway wasn’t a part of the judging criteria either… it’s fine, really! I don’t feel like I was robbed at all.
That lip sync was amazing! When you finished it, did you feel like you won?
I saw the writing on the wall. It felt like my time had finished. I didn’t want to go but I don’t get to make that choice. I’m okay with it. When I left I didn’t cry. I had a really good time, I’m really happy I got to do this.
Last question! I’ve got a feeling we’ve SNOT seen the last of you. What’s next for Irma Gerd?
The whole world is my oyster! I’m feeling confident about my singing skills, so maybe I’ll sing a little song. I want to do shows all around the world. I want to take my drag family on the road. I want to do it all! And maybe in a few years time, I’ll be hosting Vatican City vs. the World or something like that.