When Jason Rose-Spurrell was a kid, he would watch his grandfather stand on the stage of Glace Bay's Savoy Theatre with The Men of the Deeps.
Years later, Rose-Spurrell will stand on that same stage in six-inch heels as Rouge Fatale, one of Halifax's most well known drag queens.
Rose-Spurrell and a crew of nearly a dozen queens known as the Glamazon Army are heading out to bring all that is glamourous and glittering to venues across the province---as well as a stop over on Prince Edward Island---with a new show and production company, O'Gurl Productions.
It all started when Rose-Spurrell was having a hard time balancing his job as a licenced practical nurse along with his other job---being Rouge. "It was becoming too hard on the head," he says. "I didn't want to be a nurse who was in it for a paycheque. I love my work, but it was one of those moments where I knew I had to try something new."
Something new meant performing as Rouge as a full time gig. Rose-Spurrell soon began performing at Casino Nova Scotia, in a show called Rouge Fatale & Friends. The audiences at the casino were a mix of young and old, gay and straight. Most drag performers do their work in this city's gay bars and clubs, so performing at the casino reminded Rose-Spurrell of his time working in theatre.Not long after Rose-Spurrell left his job, he found a kindred spirit in Ed Savage, AKA Boom Boom Lubbalicious. Savage had also recently left his job in the health care field, and the two decided to create O'Gurl Productions, along with a show to take on the road. "He had contacts with theatres and people, and I had the girls," says Rose-Spurrell.
Members of the troupe include Elle Noir (performing as Etta James and Patti LaBelle), Farrah Moan (Madonna), Bridget Von Snaps (Gwen Stefani) and Kimberly Diamondz (Amy Winehouse) to name but a few of the queens. They, along with five other performers, make up the Glamazon Army. The name gives a nod to drag history, as it was the late Lulu LaRude (AKA Chuck Gillis) who came up with the term, referring to the new generations of queens in the city. Lulu, who passed away in 2007, was the host of the now defunct 5 Minutes of Fame, a long-running talent show at Reflections, and is considered by many to be Halifax drag royalty.
"Every girl in this troupe has her own special unique character," says Rose-Spurrell. "They all sort of slide in different genres. We have girls who do Top 40 songs, comedy girls, Broadway and more." Kristi Davidson (AKA Chris Pelrine), is the troupe's Broadway baby, fond of performing as Liza Minelli or Bette Midler. "Rouge Fatale and Boom Boom gathered the best performers Halifax has to offer," he says. Pelrine, who also works as an actor and dancer, is thrilled about performing in some of the more theatrical venues. "Getting to do what I love on a stage with professional lighting and sound and a theatre full of people is very exciting."
Tim Humphrey (AKA Eureka Love) is also looking forward not only to the theatres, but the chance to perform to crowds who may not be familiar with drag. "I hope people who have never seen drag realize we're not simply these tall, scary, screaming amazons, we're performers," Humphrey says. "We can show people how much time and effort goes into a number."
Above all, O'Gurl Productions is about paying respect to drag in a way that's genuine for the performers. "Some people have forgotten the extravagance that used to come with drag," says Rose-Spurrell. He says members of the Glamazon Army won't do things unless it's done right. "You don't go on stage slapdash," he says. "It's great to see people who respect drag. We respect the craft, and the people who do it."
Roll Call! A Drag Show Saturday, March 9 9pm, $10 Atlantica Commons Rm 1980 Robie Street