They have been perfecting their unapologetically Indigenous drag since high school and also boasts a massive TikTok following of almost 500,000 where they portray Auntie; a not taking anything seriously, shit-talking, educating with humour personality. The perfect combination of all the aunties they knew growing up.
Tow Row Times caught up with Chelazon/Auntie last week to talk about drag, Two-Spirit roles in community, social media and how to stay deadly.
Jace: How would you describe your drag aesthetic?
Chelazon: My aesthetic is unapologetically Indigenous. Every look I put together I try to incorporate my indigeneity in it somewhere. Whether that’s a pair of beaded earrings in an otherwise draggy look, or full-on regalia, I like to express my heritage in every way. I feel as though I’m honouring my people and my ancestors.
Jace: Can you describe what it means to be Two-Spirit and the role drag would have played historically in your community if it had existed at the time?
Chelazon: This is a very loaded question — I think it is important to start with Two-Spirit. My own definition of the term is being the bridge between worlds. Whether someone identifies as male, female, more masc, or more fem, Two-Spirit is always the in-between. Two-Spirit was first mentioned in Winnipeg at the Native American/First Nations Gay and Lesbian conference in the ‘90s and there was ceremony around it because there was not an English word to describe this traditional role in many tribes.
Looking at the historical responsibilities of Two-Spirited people, there were a lot of roles honestly; leaders, community advisors, elders — Two-Spirited people had that ability to be whatever they wanted. I can’t say for sure how our ancestors would have felt about drag because I don’t have a time machine but I believe that my people didn’t have the same perception of gender through the same colonial view most of us have now. I think there would be a lot less pushback then, or less stigma and fear around the terminology of what drag represents.
I believe Creator created everyone for a reason and we don’t question it. You find your purpose, and we don’t question it. I like to think that historically there would not have been a challenge expressing ourselves through drag. The beauty of Two-Spirit is its changing roles as society continues to grow.
Jace: How did drag find you?
Chelazon: My first understanding of drag was from my home community when I was 13. My community put on events like mental health awareness week which included events at the community hall like air bands and talent shows. One of those events was called “Mr. Beautiful and Mrs. Handsome.” It was drag it just wasn’t called drag. Men wore dresses, women wore work clothes, it was comedy. It’s so funny because even today no one would see it as drag — I’m just doing it on another level.
Then Ru Paul’s Drag Race entered my life when I got a little bit older and now we know drag is clearly defined as a visual and performance art. I started exploring makeup and wigs in high school and began performing on stage when I was bar age in Edmonton.
Jace: What ways have you brought your Indigeneity into drag?
Chelazon: My drag is an expression of my experiences and it isn’t just a piece or two of my Indigenous identity — it is my identity presented in this package called drag. My shows include my experiences, visuals, outfits, performances and sense of humour.
Jace: Your Tiktok has almost 500k followers, can you describe Auntie?
Chelazon: Auntie is basically a combination of all the aunties I knew growing up. Not taking anything seriously, talking a lot of shit, little bit of gossip. I like to educate with humour. I’ve posted tutorials, reviews, how to put your hair in a bun, a day in the life of a drag queen, my looks, how to make moose stew, more serious topics about social justice issues and a lot more.
Auntie is a comedic character where my drag is my visual art, outfits and performances — both have that same sense of humour. It’s interesting because while both are presented differently, it’s a lot less effort for me to do Auntie. Both exist at the same time — kind of separate but in the same universe.
Jace: What is the goal behind your social media content?
Chelazon: Two words; educate and entertain. And make money.
Jace: Who do you create for?
Chelazon: I create for my family; chosen family and the people who raised me and the communities that raised me. I do this for them because it is a reflection of the experiences they’ve given me and it comes from a place of love. My drag is specifically a love letter to the Indigenous women who raised me; reflecting their love, compassion and beauty. These amazing aunties; their humour and their joy and resilience through hard times. Still being able to laugh and smile inspires me and my character a lot in and out of drag.
Jace: What’s flatter, Saskatchewan or Yvie Oddly out of drag?
Chelazon: Definitely Yvie. But there are some hills and slight curvatures in Saskatchewan. It is true though that if your dog runs away you can see it run for a couple of days before it disappears beyond the horizon. To be fair Alberta has some pretty flat parts too.
Jace: What is your main social media platform?
Chelazon: Tiktok is my main force in creating. It’s my living now and I do a lot on it. I have business partnerships with companies who want to promote their product and other opportunities like that have presented themselves.
Jace: What do you like the most about the platform?
Chelazon: TikTok gave us a space to be heard. Indigenous peoples. It gave us the power to tell our story without anyone else narrating it. You are the storyteller. You get to tell your truth without the colonial backdrop. Not something we have ever had before.
This type of content creation is another form of storytelling. It is in our blood to tell stories and TikTok is a modern tool for Indigenous storytelling.
Jace: What tends to be the age range of your audience?
Chelazon: I assume, but can’t say for sure that it’s mainly women between the ages of 16 to 60. Women of all stages of life can relate to being an auntie, not having an auntie, or being an auntie to an auntie. It’s multi-generational.
Jace: What do you do to make sure the image you portray online is your authentic self?
Chelazon: If I can sit there and laugh at myself and my jokes then we’re good. We’re fine. That’s when I know there’s no ulterior motive besides me having fun.
Jace: What quality does your drag persona have that you wish you had in your life?
Chelazon: Being a bit more talkative. I would say when I have the whole look on it feels like conversation and laughs and hosting is part of the job. Outside of drag I reserve my energy a lot and try to stay as down low as I can and hold my energy and voice for when I feel like I need to use it.
Jace: I’ll save the “what would you say to your four-year-old self” question for when the show premiers, but what would you say to any child who feels trapped inside a body they don’t belong in, queer, or different?
Chelazon: The world will tell you that everything about you is incorrect but you know what’s right. You know what feels organic and correct to you. And there’s truth and power to it. If you love that part of yourself and are able to express it, the world is going to respond to it and will fall in love.
Jace: What are you most excited about this season of Canada’s Drag Race?
Chelazon: The amount of diversity. I know people are complaining that there are six contestants from Ontario and that it is Ontario’s Drag Race. But if you look at every artist on this show there’s such a diverse group of experiences. You have Indigenous, Metis, east coast, Toronto and more. And all the Toronto queens have their own backgrounds and experiences and they get to share that with the world too.
Jace: Will Ru Paul be making an appearance?
Chelazon: No comment.
Jace: Closing line?
Chelazon: Stay deadly and tune into Canada’s Drag Race on July 14 on Crave.