Mondays Are A Drag 002. with Pythia

Posted: by The Editor

Photo by Jean Sebastian Senecal

It’s the first Monday of the month…and you know what that means? We’re back with another edition of Mondays Are A Drag. For those that might not be aware, Mondays Are A Drag is a monthly column on The Alternative where we speak with queer artists and Drag performers to discuss queer artistry, their career, and what projects are on the horizon for them.

We’re kicking off this month by speaking with Canada’s Drag Race Season 2 Finalist, Pythia! Pythia’s art isn’t necessarily what the masses might picture when they think of a drag queen, but that’s part of what makes her art so endearing. It’s a cerebral and magical exploration of gender expression through the lens of fantasy and Greek mythology. Please enjoy our conversation about how they came to celebrate their queerness and what’s in store for Pythia.

I know that you’ve spoken about growing up in Greece and not having really any queer culture or artistry to learn from. I’m curious about what life was like for little Pythia?

It’s funny that you mention that because it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I feel like a lot of people who heard what I said on the show kind of twisted my words a little bit, you know? I’ve heard a lot about how there’s queerness in old greek art and mythology, but that really wasn’t what I meant when I said that. What I meant was that there wasn’t a lot of accessible queer culture to me in film and media growing up in Greece. I’m not denying that any of it ever existed, but it wasn’t super accessible to me. 

Growing up was a little strange, you know? All I really knew about being gay was that it was a sin and looked down upon. In Greece, I had teachers that would call home to my parents and say things like “We’re noticing that Christos is a little different” or “We’re noticing that Christos is tanning a little weird, more effeminate, gravitates towards dolls” and such. So I learned very quickly to sort of correct that behavior for the sake of fitting in, but I found solace in things like comic books and Disney – relating to these fabulous villains like Cruella Deville and Maleficent.

That’s honestly so true, those women are so much easier to gravitate towards. Growing up I was really inspired by Rita Repulsa and her power. She didn’t always succeed, but dammit, she was going to try! And the fact that her minions were literal putty men!!

(Laughs) True feminism! 

With that in mind, what was your foot in the door to queer culture? Would you say it was comic and Disney or was it something else? 

No, not really!  I would say that it was honestly moving to Canada at 14 and all of the sudden being surrounded by things like the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) and meeting so many queer people and trans people when I was in high school that really was my introduction to queer culture and acceptance as a queer individual, you know? Like I would sneak off to Queer Prom with my friends and participate in GSA events unbeknownst to my parents. After I graduated, I attended the Regina School of Theatre in Saksachawan and fell in love with performance and set design, and was truly able to start building like a real queer family. 

Would you say that either of those things had a major impact on the way that you approach your art? 

Well, I pull a lot of inspiration from Greek culture, as I’m sure you saw in my looks [on Canada’s Drag Race Season 2] but I love to make it as gay as possible! I love Greek mythology and being able to explore the queerness in that. For example, I had a look on the show where I was a Centaur that was heavily inspired by Greek myth, but with a lot of my own queer perspective in there as well. I love to do that. I want to take that mythology, that history, and make it as queer as I can. 

View the full post on Instagram.

When did you know that drag was what you wanted to pursue? What was that aha moment? Was that always how Pythia was presented? What did the early days of Pythia look like? I’m curious because you have such a distinct point of view. 

That’s kind of a funny story, actually! Before I was doing Drag I was doing a lot of cosplay and would do makeups at home where I was like Ariel from The Little Mermaid or Lady Gaga, so I had been doing make-up for a little bit before I was noticed by a producer. When that did happen, thankfully, my make-up skills were already mostly fine, so my first time in Drag wasn’t too busted looking. It’s interesting though because it was a Ken and Barbie party, so I went out and bought pink sheets and made a dress out of those and a blonde wig and went as Barbie. And when you think about it Barbie was always more of a drag queen anyway. 

Also, working in theater and film it sort of felt like my expression was always lensed by or reigned in by that of the cis men that were running the show, you know? And I’ve always loved being able to command an audience and tell a story and Drag was the perfect outlet for me to be able to do both of those things without feeling like the constraint that was present on set most of the time. 

That’s so true! Barbie was always this hyper-feminized queen to me more than a representation of what womanhood was supposed to look like. 

Exactly! And what does womanhood really mean anyway? We’re not talking sex here. Who decided that a pink dress and makeup was “woman” while a shirt and pants was “man.” It’s all made up anyway, and that’s what’s so fun about Drag – it’s the ability to comment on the fact that gender is completely made up and doesn’t really matter anyway. 

The character of Pythia seems to be a-gender and based mostly in fantasy and expression of self. How important do you think it is for young people to have a character like that made so accessible by your run on Canada’s Drag Race? 

Yeah, I would say that it’s important to have representation for all types of drag on Drag Race. It was great to be able to showcase a type of drag that wasn’t a pretty girl in a dress doing a top 40 lipsync – not to say that it’s any less valid, but I think it’s important to showcase that drag isn’t ONLY that. Especially because like we said, gender isn’t sex, right? There is not a real definition of what womanhood is, so for artists like myself, Icesis (Couture), Crystal Methyd, or Yvie Oddly to be on the show – I think that’s very important. Not to be a Gia Gunn and say “the doors I’ve opened”, because I haven’t. I just think it was cool to see a character like mine on such a large platform. 

You know, on the show, it was kind of crazy. I don’t know if you remember the finale lip-sync – it was kind of cringy! But we had to lip-sync and dance to RuPaul songs and that’s not something that I would normally be doing, but it’s stuff like that which makes this show so special. It showcases that there isn’t really any one right or wrong way to be a Drag performer.  

You’re going on tour this summer with the cast of season 2! How excited are you to be able to hit the road and bring your art to a larger audience? 

So excited! I don’t know if you’re aware, but the tour was originally supposed to happen in January and was pushed back because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. That was hard on a lot of us, but I’m excited to finally be able to tour Canada and perform. Everything happens as it’s meant to happen and we can’t control the outcome of the pandemic, but it’s exciting. 

Is there anywhere in particular that you’re most excited to be able to perform? 

I would have to say Regina, Saskatchewan. I’m looking forward to having a lot of my old friends from the bars and from school to be able to come to see me on stage. Hopefully, I can get my parents to come, but we’ll see! 

What does the ideal Pythia number look like? Budget aside, I’m curious what the full fantasy moment for you looks and sounds like?

Well…it’s kind of in the works so shh! (laughs). I don’t want to say too much, but I’m working on a one-woman show right now that’s kind of like Cabaret-inspired but with magic and illusions and things of that nature. I’m really fascinated by that kind of performance and I’m excited to bring that to my one-woman show. 

I’m not going to lie, after hearing you in the Under The Big Top (S02E02), I would love to hear a Pythia album that sounds sort of like Spring Awakening! 

Oh, that would be fun. Or like a cover album, how funny would that be? I don’t really consider myself a vocalist, but I would love to be able to explore that side of things a little bit more. Maybe with like an EP or something. I would love to live my little pop star or Broadway bitch fantasy. (laughs)

You know, Lea Michele was in Spring Awakening and had a moment in the top 40 world, so both are possible for you, Pythia. 

True, I mean anything can happen. 

Do you think the pandemic has affected the way that you approach your art?

Yes, absolutely! If there wasn’t a pandemic there would be a lot more traveling and performing, but in the two years that we’ve been in it, I’ve been able to really improve my makeup and my sewing abilities. I was also able to explore a new side of my creativity with digital drag shows, which seem to have died off, but those were an exciting new way to be able to explore my drag in this time as well. 

What advice do you have for young queer artists who might find it difficult to create in this time? 

Absolutely! I would say that it’s important to remember that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on your art for it to work. You don’t need a human hair unit or a couture gown for your art to be valid. I still go to thrift shops and look for pieces to use – I actually have a perfect example! My centaur look from the show, I went to a thrift store and found a baby blanket in that coral color that you saw. I brought it home, cut it up, stuffed the body with styrofoam, and made the skeleton out of cardstock. 

Who are some queer artists and/or drag performers that you’d like to shout out? 

I would say to check out my drag family: Denim Pussy and Fawn Darling. I would honestly say that they’re more my family than my biological family and they’re so talented, so I really recommend that everyone check out what they’re doing. I also have a drag husband of sorts named Hercusleaze. Herc was on Call Me Mother and that show did not do them justice. They are capable of so much more than what was showcased and are absolutely magical. 

Fawn Darling – Downtown

Denim Pussy – Flip Phone Mix

Hercusleaze – Dance Monkey

Be sure to catch Pythia on tour with the rest of her Canada’s Drag Race Season 2 sisters this Summer. Dates for that are available below. More info and ticket links are available here.

Wed Jun 29 2022/Montreal/L’Olympia

Sat Jul 2 2022/Toronto/Meridian Hall

Sun Jul 3 2022/Ottawa/Southam Hall

Wed Jul 6 2022/Winnipeg/Burton Cummings Theatre

Thu Jul 7 2022/Regina/Conexus Arts Centre

Fri Jul 8 2022/Saskatoon/TCU Place

Sat Jul 9 2022/Calgary/Winsport Arena

Sun Jul 10 2022/Edmonton/Edmonton EXPO Centre

Fri Jul 15 2022/Vancouver/Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Sat Jul 16 2022/Victoria/Save on Foods Memorial Centre

Joel Funk | @joelfunkii

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