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Exclusive: Priyanka on snatching the ‘Canada’s Drag Race’ crown and all that Jeffrey drama

It's time to say her name.

By Markus Bidaux

The true queen of the North has been crowned. Priyanka is the first ever winner of Canada’s Drag Race.

Prior to the finale we spoke to the lip-sync assassin last week before her win about coming out to his father after filming the show and splitting her time between being a children’s television presenter and drag. You can read that interview here.

After Priyanka’s win, we hopped on Zoom to get her instant reaction…

Firstly, congrats on coming up with a genius catchphrase. What’s your name again?

Priyanka is my name and I’m the winner of Canada’s Drag Race!

And congrats on winning!

I cannot even believe it.

Did you know you had won or did they film three versions of the ending to keep the secret?

I found out that I won last night, so I’m very like… it’s very fresh. The emotions are very raw, I’m very, very, very proud of everybody. It just feels wild and crazy.

Where were you last night?

I was at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. They had a limited capacity because of COVID, but I got to put on a little concert for people, it was amazing.

That sceptre you won looked like it could take someone’s eye out.

It was heavy. When Brooke Lynn handed it to me I was like whoa.

Where will you keep the crown and spectre?

I’m going to make a special box for it and hang it on my wall, so I can see it every single day to remind myself that I’m a drag legend.

The final three: Priyanka, Scarlett Bobo and Rita Baga

Have you received any messages from previous winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race since winning?

Guess who FaceTimed me last night, Shea Couleé. Somebody gave her my number and she FaceTime me. She was like “I’m so proud of you. You did it.” I haven’t even met her – well I met her once – but she was just so, ‘Of course, you did it. I always believed in you’. I was like this is crazy to have someone that like I look up to just be so sure and so certain that I should have won.

If there was an international winners only season of RuPaul’s Drag Race would you come back to compete?

Hundred percent. I am a competitive girl, I would kill it and I could use another crown.

If you had a second chance to do Snatch Game who would you do?

I think I will give [YouTuber] Miranda Sings a crack. I think the key to Snatch Game is do somebody with a really big personality, just so you can emulate it, make it even bigger. But I don’t know if it’ll be good or not. That game scares me, I’m scarred. I have to shake myself down and figure it out.

Snatched: Priyanka as Miss Cleo

Your final dress appeared to be very linked to your heritage. Ilona told Attitude that she got some negative reactions from the First Nation community regarding her look in the finale. Have you had any negative reactions to the dress since the show aired?

No, it’s more like, thank you for wearing that and showing that the queer community and Hindu culture can live in one together. I wanted a red and white finale gown because Canada. We bought two bridal lehengas and cut them up and made that gown together.

And Jeffrey said it was one of his favourite dresses of the season.

I know, when he said that my heart exploded.

Priyanka’s final runway look


You came out to your father just before the series aired. What was his reaction to you winning?

Oh, he’s in shock too. I’m sure he’s gonna ask for some money soon. He’s just super proud of me, but he’s still also processing the fact that I am a drag queen. So it’s off and on for him. He’s kind of saying, ‘Okay, well, congratulations’. But his brain’s like, ‘it’s boy dressed up as a girl, mm hmm’. So, he’s still processing it, it’s going take him some time but he’s slowly getting there.

Has he had an easier time with you coming out as gay or as a drag queen?

I think coming out as gay was easier for him for sure.

Priyanka and boyanka

How has your extended family reacted?

Oh, their so excited. My aunts, my uncles are just like over the moon. My dad’s oldest brother is like standing ovation in his living room for me. Everyone is just so proud and it feels so cool because the family that I was in the closet around is now just celebrating me being unapologetically myself.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding fans bullying judge Jeffrey on Twitter. Do you think he will be back for second season?

I think the people that didn’t trust the judges now trust the judges because they crowned me! But I think it honestly took them a while to build up the trust to them. Yes, people could always say things in a nicer way, like the time that I told Ilona to stop playing the victim card. But because I wasn’t a judge no one came for me, right. They’re like ‘oh queens being sassy to each other, whatever’. So, I think Jeffrey deserves a spot on season two, if there is one. Just because you get bullied off of Twitter doesn’t mean you should you should get fired from your job, it’s bullshit. Oh, look how passionate and angry I got.

There were some dramatic moments on the show. I know there is a queen’s WhatsApp group. Has any cattiness continued digitally?

All the time. One time, Lemon and I made a really bad joke to Scarlett Bobo, I forget what the joke was, and then Ilona texted us being saying, “Hey, so, Bobo was like a little offended can you apologise?” We were like, oh sorry, we didn’t mean it. We were just kidding. But then later bobo messaged us and said she was just in a grumpy mood.

Judges: Stacey McKenzie, Brooke Lynn Hytes and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman

 Has anyone left the group?

Everyone’s still on it. I think Anastarzia talks the least on it and when she does talk she leaves these long voice notes.

If there had been a Miss Congeniality winner who do you think it would have been?

I personally feel like if the queens were to vote for Miss Congeniality it would have been Tynomi Banks. But if the audience was to vote for Miss Congeniality it would either be Lemon or Jimbo.    

Can you tell me about how and when you discovered drag?

Three years ago, I hired a drag queen for my birthday party, I’m actually sitting in the spot where she told me that I should try drag. She’s like, ‘Why don’t you just try to drag?’ She performed a song right here and then she asked my friends, who were sitting over there, ‘Do you think Mark should do drag?’ And my friends were like, ‘God, he has to try it this makes so much sense’. And then I tried it and Priyanka was born and now I’m Canada’s Drag superstar, boom!

That’s quite a trajectory.

It’s so funny, I came out so late in my life and then all of a sudden was like, I’m gay. I’m out of gay bars all the time. I moved into the gay village of Toronto. Now I’m a drag queen. Now I’m on Drag Race. It was just one after another and another. It is my madness.

Priyanka getting dolled up

What was the feeling you got the first time you donned make-up and a wig?

I look like shambles. I looked so bad, but that’s the trick to becoming a good drag queen is start ugly and end pretty. But honestly, even when I was not that cute, I felt so beautiful because drag makes you feel so fearless and so confident and just so great.

Did you ever have any awkward moments when you were doing both kids’ television and performing as a drag artist at night?

Baby, getting up this morning for press was a similar feeling. It was like you’re out so late, turning to party to Britney Spears and then you sleep for a blink and then you’re up and you’re like, ‘Hey kids, you’re watching SpongeBob Square Pants!’ I think because I put it in my head that I had to keep the two separate I was able to just do it without even thinking about it. Now I would never. There was some mornings where I was a little hungover, sorry kids.

Have you had many fans that grew up watching you as a children’s TV presenter get in touch?

Those messages are the best messages because they literally grew up with you. I think it’s so cool that these children that grew up watching me on TV and now I’m on Drag Race and I won and that’s their memory of their childhood. It’s crazy.


Priyanka’s East Coast ‘Gone Fishy’ look

We had the Canadian Tuxedo, Moose Knuckles… what Canadian stereotypes are left for season two?

I want to see a maple syrup runway, however that may look. I want to see a yellow runway to honour Lemon and Yellow Knife. Remember my first design challenge was the East Coast box ‘Gone Fishy’? I want to see an entire runway dedicated to that. East Coast eleganza extravaganza! I want to see salmon, trout, crabs, lobster, netting, rain boots, yellow jackets.

Sometimes RuPaul brings back a queen from a previous season-

Juice Boxx! She deserves it through and through. I don’t know how far she’d make it, I don’t know if she’s a good actor, I don’t know if she’s good at improv. I just don’t think it’s ever fair for a queen to go home on a design challenge. I know it’s part of the competition, but the poor girl didn’t even get to show her drag.

Priyanka with three of her design challenge looks

You said you come to the UK once a year. What would say are the differences between UK and Canada drag queens?

Your drag is serious business. The most fierce performances I’ve ever seen and all your queens know how to command a room. In Toronto, there’s some queens that command a room and there’s some queens that are just background noise. When I went off the bar call when you go into the basement and you sit in for a cabaret that really dials you

And if you could perform with any Drag Race UK queen who would it be?

I would love to do a lip-sync battle against Cheryl Hole to a Girls Aloud song.

What is next for Priyanka?

I want to go on a tour, I want to produce shows, get new costumes. I want to just inspire people and make people dance to their favourite pop songs while I do cartwheel split to it.

Read Attitude’s earlier interview with Priyanka here.

Canada’s Drag Race is available to watch now on BBC Three on the BBC iPlayer.