We get up close and personal with Bratpack, the girls who run Vancouver
Recently, we headed to Vancouver to meet the stars of the live reality drag show Bratpack, a 34-week residency at The Junction, one of the city’s hottest queer clubs. We went deep on all the drama and the #glam lives of Jane Smoker, Kendall Gender, Synthia Kiss, Thanks Jem and Gia Metric. Now, they’re back for more – with a cute pop quiz including fashion advice, using delusions to drive you and dating when you’re a queen.
What are some hot 2018 make-up and fashion tips for Dazed’s readers?
Jane Smoker: Liquid lipsticks on your eyes.
Kendall Gender: Monochromatic is over. It’s all about complementary colours.
Synthia Kiss: The dewiest face you’ve ever seen. You should look like you just got out of the shower even though it took like threee hours to get ready.
Gia Metric: I’m going to start glueing shit to my eyebrows again, and everyone should too.
Thanks Jem: Be extra.
“Monochromatic is over. It’s all about complementary colours” – Kendall Gender
Do you ever think of how exciting it is to be such a huge part of Vancouver’s queer history for this decade and our generation?
Jane Smoker: I think of it all the time how we are legends in Vancouver drag. It only goes back so far, you know. There’s never been a girl group like us in the city, and five queens who have stuck together for as long as we have.
Kendall Gender: It’s so exciting. It’s just the beginning. We were voted the second best drag show in Vancouver, below a show that has been on for the last seven years.
Synthia Kiss: I think about that all the time. These are going to be the memories for the rest of my life where I remember we did this wacky cool show together. A drag girl group and our sisterhood has never been seen before in this city.
Gia Metric: Fuck yeah! We never take any of this for granted. We focus on the present but we have big dreams and goals for the future, in a realistic way. We don’t sit on lawn chairs, we work our fucking asses off.
Thanks Jem: Back a few years ago, when my shows would get cancelled – I’d feel like society doesn’t need me anymore but now I look in the mirror, with my girls and when we all hit the chore I get chills.
What is in the future for Bratpack?
Kendall Gender: We are trying to make good fucking music and a GoFundMe for our phone bills.
Synthia Kiss: A song is exciting. We will be in your ears, like never before.
Thanks Jem: Bratpack duvet covers coming soon!
“I do rack up a good amount of likes. I try to not post a lot, I want people to miss me and remember me” – Gia Metric
Is social media an essential component to your creative process? Do the feeds of other queens in other cities inspire your aesthetic?
Jane Smoker: Jane Smoker’s look is always the same. I’m not a chameleon. Instagram for me is about documenting my drag life and painting the story of Jane Smoker through my posts and my feed. I think it’s important for us to have a visual archive.
Kendall Gender: There is so much exposure to different styles, we are very hyper-conscious of not copying people. You can’t pretend you didn’t see something someone already did and then do it. Social media is an art form, it’s an artistic curation.
Synthia Kiss: Drag is visual. It lends to Instagram in a very important way but it’s good to keep it original. I enjoy sharing the evolution of Synthia with people on Instagram and then going to other cities, and people feeling like they’ve kept up with the character.
Gia Metric: Social media is an outlet to push yourself and to be inspired, but on the flipside it can make you very critical about yourself because there is so much drag out there. You have to challenge yourself and say “How can we separate ourselves from what everyone else is doing?” I do rack up a good amount of likes. I try to not post a lot, I want people to miss me and remember me.
Thanks Jem: I post the most. People who post in drag from at home, ain’t no-one got the time. Um, sad. That’s a dumb person thing! People are so thirsty.
Do you view your show as educational?
Jane Smoker: I hope the show is a spiritual experience for anyone who comes. I want people to find their higher self and amp up whatever is inside of their soul.
Kendall Gender: So many people come to Bratpack and it is their first experience at a drag show. The reason we are making ourselves public figures in the city is so people will question and challenge the consensus and confinements of everyday society, and feel empowerment.
Synthia Kiss: If one person in the audience can take something away from that, then our work is done.
Gia Metric: I tell myself everyday “I’m a role model”. Having a weekly show is a responsibility and we do have a duty to create a space where people can feel comfortable and challenge themselves and society – we want to give people a sense of community at our shows.
“I hope the show is a spiritual experience for anyone who comes. I want people to find their higher self and amp up whatever is inside of their soul” – Jane Smoker
Is it important for you to parody culture as it is now? The show does have politically incorrect and offensive elements at times…
Jane Smoker: It’s a new thing, new-age trend for drag queens and people in the community to always be squeaky clean and correct. Getting a rise out of people is a part of drag! If you are paying six bucks admission and you sat there all night and didn’t feel anything, we wouldn’t be doing our job right.
Kendall Gender: People come to Bratpack with an open mind and open heart. You aren’t coming to Bratpack for a safe time. I will literally grab people from the crowd on stage and ask them to show me pics of their dick on their phone.
Gia Metric: When people come to our show, they should know this is not Disney. This is not a broadway production of Aladdin. Even though we might be do a Disney night at some point (“wink, wink”). Maybe me doing a death drop could shock you, or an offensive joke could push your buttons. If you aren’t afraid of Kendall punching you by the end of the night, we didn’t do a good show.
Thanks Jem: Drag has always been offensive. I love being a martyr. I am the way I am for a reason. When I have an audience, it’s a way for me to get people to think or understand things they might not understand through humour. I’m working through my turmoil.
As members of a drag girl group, are you playing with femininity and extending it?
Jane Smoker: It’s important for people to see us as gay men that bridge the gap between masculine and feminine. It’s important for us to have a place subverting the toxic “masc4masc” hyper masculine fetishisation we are innudated with in our culture.
Kendall Gender: Bratpack is a place where we finally get to be allowed to be as feminine as we want to be outside of how we are not allowed to be in society. It gives us the platform. I’m delusional. I think I’m Christina Aguilera. I have a Christina Aguilera tattoo. Delusion drives me.
“I’m delusional. I think I’m Christina Aguilera. I have a Christina Aguilera tattoo. Delusion drives me” – Kendall Gender
Synthia Kiss: I’m a very feminine guy. When I was a model in Asia, I was constantly pressured to be masculine. To finally be able to be in my element, to dance more finesse and move the hands the way I want to be... it’s very liberating. I finally get to be the strongest version of myself and so do these girls. We fought for this.
Gia Metric: It’s a fantasy coming to life. When you are a little kid with your Hilary Duff poster on your wall and your dancing in your underwear in your karaoke machine...it’s a fantasy that you’ve fought to have. I’ve always been feminine and people shouldn’t crucify any feminine expression coming from anyone.
Thanks Jem: We get to fantasise, conceptualize and create something from the feminine parts of ourselves and make it come true. I get to be my delusional-Britney self. I’ve wanted to be in a drag girl group since I first started and honey, it’s hard to get five 10/10 drag queens together. I’ve been trying to manifest this my whole life. When we are vibing in the mirror, and we hit the choreo? I get chills.
For women being a women isn’t a costume that you can just take off or wipe off with makeup and then return to a position of privilege in society’s hierarchy. Some people view drag as misogynistic and say that it mocks and demeans women.
Jane Smoker: You can’t win when it comes to this topic. If you know you are actively acting as a feminist, then that should speak for itself. You have to be the change you want to see. I could be like “yeah, I love women” but anyone could say that. You have to act out those values.
Kendall Gender: I 100 per cent consider myself a feminist. We’ve spent our whole life obsessing and observing women in the most positive, obsessive way. I love women, I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t appreciate or love women. My desire to perform as a female character comes from my love for women. I’m inspired by pop stars and my mom. Female energy is not a joke to me. I am honouring female energy through my art.
Synthia Kiss: I love women. I’ve admired strong women my whole life, my mother is a very strong personality. For me through glamour, that’s me celebrating women and there are women in the audience who feel empowered by how we are expressing our heightened femininity. That’s really cool.
Gia Metric: You have to practice what you preach. You can say anything for the microphone. Talk is so cheap in 2018. Drag sometimes isn’t always about being feminine, it’s about exploring and realizing we all carry both masculine and feminine energies in our souls, forgetting about gender and and remembering we are human beings. I do love women so much.
What is dating like for you guys? Do some queer men view you as girls because you do drag?
Kendall Gender: There is a behavioural change in the gay community when you tell someone you do drag. In my romance life, I sometimes I choose to not tell people that I am a queen until I want to persue something serious. A lot of the time they won’t be inclined to hook up with you or date you because they view you as a girl. I hooked up with this guy a couple weeks ago, and he saw all my drag clothes all over the floor. He evil-laughed: “I’m so surprised you’re a drag queen, and a top…”
Synthia Kiss: When it gets treated like a dirty little secret, you get treated like a little secret. We’ve all had partners. I put it on my profile to know right away, it’s important for potential partners to know me because I don’t want someone near me who doesn’t accept me for everything I am. If some men don’t find that attractive, well guess what? I don’t want to be with you either.
“I hooked up with this guy a couple weeks ago, and he saw all my drag clothes all over the floor. He evil-laughed: ‘I’m so surprised you’re a drag queen, and a top...’” – Kendall Gender
What is the worst performances you’ve seen of each other through the seasons, a performance that one of your other members did that appalled you and you just felt like “She must be stopped…”
Kendall Gender: I’m not doing that. No. You want us to be like catty queens and pit us against each other, or have us say something shady to have us fit some image you have of queens from the internet? We’re not those kind of girls.
Gia Metric: No, no, no! You think that I think about my sisters like that? The reason we are special is because we don’t throw one another under the bus. This is new drag sisterhood.
Thanks Jem: Bratpack is about friendship. This is real.