It was time for a party, everyone felt it, and the Odeon Diner outdoor porch on King Street, Sturgeon Falls, was the venue for the first live drag show to be held in West Nipissing, Saturday, August 14. The crowd roared as drag queens Quinta Sential (Ryan Conway) and Jenna Seppa (Michel Gervais) donned their heels and hair, to step up and rock the house down with their flamboyant performance.
Venue holder Bob Guenette hosted the event with daughter Emelie Guenette, happily reporting that the 140 seats were sold out. There also were more than a few onlookers hanging by the fence, whooping and hollering with the other patrons. It was a loud evening, the party everyone has been waiting for after 18 months of stringent COVID restrictions – someone even called in a noise complaint.
The ‘Diner Divas’ measured the evening an unqualified success, both for themselves and for the town of Sturgeon Falls which, in their estimation, needed a bit of royalty. The queens are pleased.
“What a great night,” beamed Michel Gervais. “It was a fantastic turnout and everybody had a blast! Honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there was a lot of excitement, but it was beyond what I thought.”
The encore performance for August 28 is also sold out. Ryan Conway, Michel’s stage partner and partner in life, noted, “I knew people in Sturgeon Falls liked to party, but wow! What an amazing show! It really was a blast!”
During the evening, the audience was asked who was a first time drag show attendee. The majority of hands went up. Jenna Seppa and Quinta Sential have been performing on Toronto stages for some time — pre-COVID — and having made their home in West Nipissing during lockdown they do not have the backing of a regular venue. How did the local audience compare to T.O. audiences? “I think that’s what made it so different. We’re used to performing for more queer people so having the audience mostly straight, we were expecting a different kind of energy. But I think the excitement about it being so new to everyone made the show more accessible,” opined Gervais, whose parents, grandmothers and sister attended the event and cheered them on proudly.
Conway added, “Having all these people being so new to drag and what drag is, I think everyone took it as it was. I’m sure they came with expectations but from what I heard people were impressed; we exceeded their expectations. The energy from people who had never seen drag before! Everyone was so kind and loving and accepting and took us for what we were and what we presented to them.”