words Imogen Wexlar
photography Zarah Cheng
August 2, Davie Street. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the words anus and pussy said that many times in an hour before. But I mean, I was at an Alaska Thunderfuck show so I really shouldn’t have expected anything less. The Season 5 finalist of RuPaul’s Drag Race was the headliner at this year’s Untoxicated Vancouver Pride event, the festival’s first ever outdoor dry party. Having been clean and sober since 2013, the 6 foot-something-plus-5-inch-heels drag star was the perfect host for the drug and alcohol-free party, and she slaaaaayed. Set up in the parking lot outside the Shoppers Drug Mart on Davie Street, the enclosed area felt like the Secret Garden of Versailles, except instead of French servants I was surrounded by half-naked gays and our queen was an Amazonian goddess who tucked.
From the first hiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee to the last, Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 kept the crowd laughing, dancing, and laughing some more. In between singing crowd favourites from her new album, Anus, Alaska charmed the audience with her signature rapport that tends to drag (pardon the pun) out to a low-octave drawl. “Most of you probably know me as a modeeeeeeelllllll, but what you might not know is that I’m aaaaaalso a singer-songwriterrrrrrrr,” she told us in a tone that most closely resembled a sedated Benedict Cumberbatch. She then told us in all seriousness, “Vancouver, I love your pussy.” A near-perfect segue way into her performance of Anus track, “Pussy.” And the crowd went wild.
The parking lot was then caught up in a Dionysian frenzy as Alaska closed the show with “This Is My Hair.” As the queen whipped her natural platinum blond hair around (remember kids, she doesn’t wear wigs), the glitchy dance track helped send off Alaska Thunderfuck from one of the most memorable drag performances the city has ever seen.
By the time I left the show, I had completely forgotten that the entire show was dry. And if you’ve ever been to a Pride event, you’ll agree with me that this is a really refreshing progression of Pride tradition. With Pride weekend being more or less infamous for its heavy alcohol and drug culture, this Untoxicated event was a quasi-revolution in terms of Pride Parade affairs. To be honest, I had shown up to the event the night after a particularly horrible bender. I had only been drinking Costco super-pack coconut water all day, and I had to give myself a pep talk before attempting to sit up that morning. So to show up at an event that welcomed and celebrated sobriety, a point that even Alaska pointed out during her set, was bracing.
I’m not trying to be insensitive in pointing out that I showed up hungover to a dry event put together by Clean Sober and Proud (a support group who had their first recovery float in the 2008 parade), but it genuinely convinced me to do something that I had talked about doing for a year now – give up booze. I said I was going to do it so many times already this year, but it was a lot harder to do than I thought. All my friends drink heavily and I just get caught up in having a good time. But to attend and have a blast at an event surrounded by people who had successfully made the lifestyle change to be clean and sober was so encouraging. Untoxicated is a huge step forward in terms of creating a space for those in recovery to still enjoy Pride revelry without being put in a tempting environment of beer gardens and 2-for-1 shooters. Say what you will – tell me that I won’t be able to do it, that I’m just lying to myself when I don’t think pinot grigio is my best friend, but guess what: I went to an Alaska Thunderfuck show, I didn’t have a drop of alcohol, and I had an awesome fucking time.
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