Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
No moose knuckle was left untucked on the sickening first season of Canada’s Drag Race. Our Neighbors to the North brought their best as 12 queens competed to be crowned Canada’s first drag superstar. Though the cast was full of stars, in the end, there could only be one. Rita Baga, Scarlett Bobo, and Priyanka made it to the top three, with Priyanka ultimately taking home the crown.
The Indian queen had only been doing drag for three years before sashaying into the workroom, but she proved herself to be the season’s lip-sync assassin, giving a show every time she fell in the bottom two. Priyanka spoke with NewNowNext about her time on Canada’s Drag Race, including how she snatched the crown, her epic lip-syncs, and what she’s going to do with all that Canadian coin.
Priyanka, I’m so honored to talk to you. Condragulations!
Thank you. I won, I’m a legend now and that’s just it.
So last night, did you have some extravaganza?
I assume you saw the Instagram story. I had the party of a lifetime. I hosted this amazing finale extravaganza at the Phoenix theater in Toronto, and I surprised the audience with Juice Boxx, Lemon, Ilona, and BOA, and it was just the biggest celebration of my life. Thank God I won, or else it would’ve been, oh, oops.
So you didn’t know that you were going to win until you saw it last night?
Yeah, I had no clue. When I watched the episode and I saw myself on the runway, I said, “Now she looks like a winner.” But the anxiety I had waiting, during the final. I think just waiting to hear it, I was so close to being like, “Can we just skip this to the end? Can we skip to the end, please?”
I mean, I do have to say that, I called you winning weeks ago, but Scarlett turned it out during that lip-sync. Were you worried?
I wasn’t worried because it wasn’t that kind of lip-sync in my brain. In my brain, I was like, you’re at the end, you’re wearing the beautiful ball gown, just go there and have fun.
When you found out you were the winner, what happened? Paint the scene for me.
Okay. I’m sitting on a stool in front of 100 people—socially distanced—and they say, “We have made a decision.” My heart is beating so fast out of my chest. And then I’m like, okay, it’s happening. It’s happening. Breathe, breathe, breathe. And then they say, “The winner is… What’s her name? Priyanka.” The audience in the room was so loud, everybody didn’t know what to do with themselves. Vodka bottles start flying in the air. Everyone was so happy, and then it was my mom who came on stage and I just uncontrollably sobbed in her arms. I didn’t believe it.
That sounds like such a fun night.
It was amazing.
WE DID IT
— hi it’s me priyanka (@thequeenpri) September 5, 2020
Your mom was there, but what about your dad? On the show, you said this was your way of coming out to him.
My dad is so excited that I won. He couldn’t be there because he has to work. He works night shifts, but at a factory, so he’s the hardest working man I know. He texted me being like, “I’m so proud of you. Congratulations.” But you can tell that he’s still having some time processing this whole drag thing. Some days he’s team Priyanka, some days he’s like, wait a second, what’s this all about? It’s just the past, I think it’s hard when he’s grown up with a certain upbringing and he doesn’t really… No drag, there’s no RuPaul, he doesn’t know these things. He lives in such a different world, so he’s slowly educating himself, which is cool.
When did you tell him that you were doing drag? Was it before the show aired or was it when the show was on, like you said?
Okay, so this is the exclusive. We announced the cast of Canada’s Drag Race on May 14. I came out to him on May 15.
Oh my gosh. And how did that go?
He honestly was like… he’s the life of the party, but at home and in his home life and growing up with him, he was very quiet, all the time around his kids. So when I told him, he kind of said, “Okay, cool. Great.” I feel like he knew already, so it was an easy conversation to have. But my mom was like, “He is our son and we are going to support him no matter what.” And I was like, work mom.
I want to talk about the lip-syncs because I didn’t like seeing you in the bottom two, but I really wanted to watch you lip-sync every week. Your lip-syncs were so fun. First off, that Celine one is one of the best in Drag Race herstory. Do you agree?
I agree. Whenever I watch that lip-sync I cannot believe I’m watching myself. Something came over my body and I became a demon because I was so good. I just can’t even be humble about it because it was just that iconic.
It was next-level. People always say online, I’m screaming. I was literally screaming while watching that.
It was so much. It was just so much energy put in. And Kiara put up a fight.
And you’ve done that lip-sync since, right? In real life?
Oh yeah. The wedding dress comes out, she does a little mix. She comes out in the wedding dress, she does, “My Heart Will Go On.” And then the acapella of “I Drove All Night” starts and then she rips off the dress, she reveals the gold dress, throws it into the audience. It’s a whole production, all the time with me, all the time.
Do you love lip-syncing in real life?
It’s my favorite thing in the whole wide world. Growing up, my dad was a DJ, so I was always around music. To be able to embody and emulate a song is the best thing in the world.
I also loved your lip-sync to “Hello” by Allie X. That was so funny. Was there a lip-sync this season that you thought you could slay while you were watching from the back?
I mean, not that I wanted to be in the bottom, but I would have loved to do “Absolutely Not” by Deborah Cox. I would have loved to do “You Oughta Know,” and “Closer” by Tegan and Sara.
You won, but was there a moment during the competition that you were like, Oh girl, I think I’m packing my bags. I think I might be going home.
Oh, oh, baby. Walking into the workroom at the beginning of Episode 8, the makeover challenge episode and they’re like, it’s the puppet challenge. And now it’s the makeover challenge. I was like, okay, I’m gone. There’s no way. But I did not plan to be in the bottom twice. I’m not as good as I thought I was, my demons are coming out, but then when I had my makeover challenge the Rainbow Railroad guys literally told me that my drag makes them feel safe. [My makeover subject] Elton really made me feel like such a superstar, which is why I was able to win the whole thing.
From talking to the whole cast this whole season, it sounds like you all are still close. Has your phone been blowing up hearing from the girls?
Oh yeah. Kiara sent me a video. Rita sent me a bunch of messages. Kyne sent me messages. Tynomi and BOA have been trying to call me all day, but I’ve been busy on the phone. Yeah, everyone’s very, very, very excited for each other. And I had the girls, some of the girls at my party last night, and we all just hugged each other and sobbed our eyes off.
Every girl I talk to you, they’re just like, “The show is so exhausting.” When you were finished filming, did you take a break from drag? What did you do?
I think I came back on a Sunday and did a show on a Tuesday. I just threw myself right back into work. It’s kind of my style. I’m a little bit of a workaholic and I like to just keep myself busy, so that’s probably what happened there. In hindsight, I could have used a week off, I could have used some sleep, but. She’s back.
She’s back! I have to ask, what are you going to do with that coin?
I have no clue. I’ve honestly been asked this question a million times, and I don’t even know what to tell. I’m like, do I save it? Do I spend it? Do I go on a vacation? Do I buy a new costume? I don’t know. Do I get All Stars fillers? What do I do?
I don’t know. I guess, maybe go on a trip? Treat yourself a little bit?
Yeah. Treat yourself, that’s what I’ll do.
What are you working on now? What can fans look forward to next now that we’re not going to see you every week, which is heartbreaking?
I know, I’m so sorry. I’m going to miss everybody so much. Well, I’m going to just work on a tour, I’m going to put some live shows on where I can. Some bars are open, some theaters are open so I’m just going to do a show there and entertain the masses. I wanted to start an online show with Miss Lemon, that’s my goal. I’m putting it out to the universe and making it happen. I’m going to release some music and I’m going to find me a husband.
Oh, I love that.
I already have the wedding dress, don’t you worry.
Is there a favorite memory from all of filming that jumps out at you?
I think I would say, performing “You Wear It Well.” It was so cool to have my own verse on a RuPaul song. What an honor.
That is pretty fierce. Not many girls can say that.
It’s a big deal. No, not many at all. And everyone’s verses were so good.
I’m so glad you won. I was really hoping you would. Condragulations again, and thank you for delivering fierceness week after week!
Thank you so much. I appreciate it!