Blake Caissie is the first to say that when it comes to performing in drag, it’s go big or go home, and he’s always up for putting on a powerful show.
Caissie is fairly new to hanging out, but he’s one of the islanders trying to make the scene bigger on PEI and give plenty of space to perform and show off their alter egos.
“It gives me confirmation that I’m doing what I was supposed to do growing up,” Caissie said. “I’m so motivated by our queer youth and our youth in general…to see what they have to offer and see how they can cheer us on, come to our shows, offer support and really give us that following that we always have. dreamed of having on our little island.”
The drag community has started what Caissie calls a kind of “residency” at Trailside Music Hall in Charlottetown, a place they love and have room to grow.
“Pat and the team at Trailside are just fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for a better venue because they’re so inclusive and the one thing I’ve always felt going there is comfortable,” Caissie said. .
“The fact that we can have an ongoing residency at Trailside, if you want, is pretty incredible.”
Their last show was called Bacon and Drag and the crowd ate it.
Joshua Borges, aka Demona DeVille, said the level of excitement grew with each show.
“That show, we sold out all of our original tickets pretty quickly, within hours, and we opened more tickets because the restrictions were lifted,” DeVille said. “It’s pretty awesome that everyone is so supportive.”
DeVille said it “meant everything” to see the scene grow.
“Being in drag is really all there is to me, without the glitz and the costumes and the wigs I would be so bored.”
‘This is just the beginning’
Dasha, Caissie’s drag character, said they held four sold-out events, with the crowd changing each time.
“This is just the beginning,” Dasha said after a show. “[The shows] continues to grow and improve.”
Nadine Haddad was at the Bacon and Drag show and said she would encourage everyone to check it out.
“I’ve always been a fan of drag and the performance art itself. It’s so wonderful to see so many talented people on stage, doing what they love to do,” Haddad said.
Alicia Packwood was there too and said she had performed in drag shows all over North America.
“It’s great to see it here on the island, we have to travel a lot for it, so I’m very supportive of the drag and queer community,” Packwood said.
“Obviously [I’m] a huge RuPaul fan, so getting a taste of that here in Charlottetown is awesome.”
Bacon and Drag was Monica Kelly’s first drag show on PEI, and she said it was awesome. “I strongly encourage others in the community to come out…and support our local drag queens.”
A lasting legacy for drag on Prince Edward Island
Establishing the drag scene even further on Prince Edward Island will take time, but Dasha, DeVille and other artists are ready to take on the task.
It’s something Caissie thought about when he first returned to Prince Edward Island nine years ago. He wanted to make a bigger impact on his community and got into drag for the first time at an amateur drag show at UPEI last summer.
The first time he performed as Dasha, he said the feeling was electric. It’s a feeling he wants others to feel for themselves.
“It was very cathartic, I can honestly say it was something I always wanted to do,” he said. “By having fun as a hairstylist, being able to work with women all day and kind of empowering them, I felt empowered as a gay man.
“I was able to show an alter ego, a different personality…I think everyone has a bit of Dasha in them, we all have a bit of feminine and masculine.”
Becoming Dasha was a boon to Caissie’s confidence, he said. He managed to overcome past traumas, social anxiety and self-doubt. Caissie said he hopes that as cruising increases on PEI and young people become more involved, it can help comfort and empower them.
“I am in awe of our community, especially Island youth. People in schools who faced a lot of homophobia and racism,” he said.
“If I can help a 14 year old, boy or girl or in between or whatever they identify with, I can show that you can do much more than you think you can and be an example.”