Biz X Was There – Drag Lip Sync Battle Royale 2022
Drag Lip Sync Battle Royale With $1,000 Prize Celebrates Love And Self-Acceptance
By Victoria Rose
Karen Smallwood has organized hundreds of productions in her career but always had a dream of creating one special drag event to highlight love and celebrate differences.
“My whole life I’ve been different. I triumphed over it by celebrating it,” says Smallwood. “Drag performers are magical; they elevate that difference into a beautiful art form. I wanted to celebrate it.”
With the return of live events and a recent rebranding as Love & Co Productions, Smallwood decided now was the time to bring this show to a Windsor audience.
“There’s never been anything like this at the Water’s Edge Event Centre before, and really, this was a very unique show to Windsor in general,” says Smallwood.
Windsorites were ready for it! The Drag Lip Sync Battle Royale sold out quickly and guests arrived on June 4, 2022 eager to take in the talent, surprises, cheers, and more. Nine Ontario performers of varying experience participated with a solo round to open the show, followed by ‘battle’ rounds where a winner advanced at each stage. It was often a difficult choice to decide who would move forward.
In the end, judges David Burman, President of Mister Style; Dan McDonald, Radio Host for AM800 & 93.9 The River and Moya McAlister, Vice President of Arts Collective Theatre (ACT) and a Communications Manager with the National Self Representative Litigation Project, crowned Nöa the winner.
Nöa — Noah Hage out of drag — is a 17-year-old performer from Leamington who started doing drag in the fall of 2021. After a diagnosis of Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 14, Noah realized “life is too short and I should be living to the fullest” and began to pursue a love for fashion and sewing.
“My diagnosis left me with a lot of issues,” says Hage. “Due to losing my hair, my weight fluctuating, etc. one of the biggest issues was struggles with self-image and wanting an escape from what was my current reality at the time. Drag helped me be more comfortable with myself and how I looked and felt as a person dealing with the aftermath of chemotherapy.”
For Hage: “Winning was an insane feeling, and a shock as well. I was so proud of myself for winning that night because I worked really hard on sewing five outfits for the competition and mentally prepared myself for the event.”
Along with the crown, Nöa walked away with $1,000, free dance lessons, and the chance to participate in a Toronto lip sync battle produced by Drag Academy where the top performer will take on Jasmine Kennedie from Season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“I’m thrilled with how everything turned out,” says Smallwood. “The caliber of the performers blew me away! They really came to perform and fed off of the crowd’s energy.”
Smallwood was also happy that many families brought their children to the all-ages show.
“There’s so much pressure on children to conform,” says Smallwood. “When drag performers exploit a difference it is a wonderful thing and demonstrates to children that different is amazing. Be your own self and be celebrated.”
Events celebrating uniqueness and love will continue as Smallwood will bring the lip sync battle back in the fall, with plans to create a few more fun and artistic shows in the near future.
Photos: Sanja Tabor