Ashley Belmer coaches Drag Heals cast to be Social

Toronto based Arts publicist Ashley Belmer joined the Drag Heals cast behind the scenes to coach them on how to craft their online presence and cultivate an audience.

Does the idea of drag as therapeutic or being healing resonate with you? Why?  

Yes, definitely, as you can transform yourself into another person for a little while, a wonderful character you have created, perhaps more confident, more fun, more glamourous, more beautiful then you feel in real life…whatever you want them to be! You can get outside yourself, push past fear, and truly come alive. 

Publicist Ashley Belmer

What did you discover about yourself through the Drag Heals experience?

I had a wonderful experience on set with the cast and crew of Drag Heals, being someone who works from home, I don’t often get to be around people, so it was nice to get out and interact! The moment I walked on set I immediately felt the love and positive energy from the group. I also loved interacting with everyone regarding PR, the team was so interested and passionate about everything I had to say. Normally I do PR YouTube videos, so I never really get to feel my audience. I could have talked and workshopped with these lovely people for hours! I also had the incredible opportunity to see everyone perform, and I was amazed at the talent and rawness of it all. It brought me to tears. I was on a high after I left that set.

How would you describe your make-up and fashion aesthetic in drag? 

I have honestly never tried drag, but if I did, I would go completely opposite of the very feminine “Ashley” for fun, I would dress up like a very posh gentlemen, with a cool hat. 

What’s been most challenging about Drag Heals for you personally? 

I was nervous, as I have never been on TV before, and I was worried I would stutter or say the wrong thing! But everyone was so kind and energetic, and loving, I immediately felt so at ease. 

What’s brought you the most joy working with the Drag Heals cast? 

Getting to meet everyone in the cast, even though it was brief, I felt such a beautiful connection with them. I actually still discuss it with my friends!

What has surprised you the most? 

How stress-free the environment was, how supportive everyone was, how talented and creative the cast was. I was lucky enough to watch a full episode being taped before my segment, and I was in tears! Everyone was so confident and beautiful – I also learned so much about the drag community, and how crucial and important it is. How much we all need to support it.

What do you hope the TV audience gets out of watching Drag Heals? 

I hope that the audience will feel like I did, the emotions I felt and the beauty of seeing people live out their dream on camera. I could see how much everyone loved to perform – and it was so familiar to me – as that is how I feel about singing. I saw myself in them, the love they had for performing.

Connect with Ashley Belmer below.

www.b-rebelcommunications.com

Twitter & Instagram – @ashleybelmer @brebelPR

WATCH DRAG HEALS SEASON 2 ON YOUR FAVORITE PLATFORMS

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Arts publicist Ashley Belmer has been working in Publicity in both English and French in the non-profit community for almost 20 years. For five years, Ashley worked as the Marketing, and Publicity Director for Black Theatre Workshop in Montreal, and was also the Marketing Manager for Just For Laughs. In 2014, Ashley joined FLIP Publicity in Toronto as a senior level arts Publicist.  Ashley was also the Senior Festival publicist at TIFF for two years. Ashley established her own PR and design agency B-Rebel Communications in 2017, and continues to work on numerous arts clients across Toronto. This includes Factory Theatre, Ross Petty Productions, TIFF, Luminato, Theatre Centre, DanceWorks, Coal Mine, Native Earth, Theatre Passe-Muraille, Next Stage, Dusk DancesHot Docs,  Toronto Fringe Festival, and many more. Ashley has a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from Queen’s University in Theatre, a Post-Graduate degree in PR from Humber College, and an intensive advanced certificate in Graphic and Web Design from Humber College.

Lady Kunterpunt dishes on Drag Heals season 2

Who is your drag persona?  How do they highlight or reveal parts of you in bigger and more dramatic ways?
Lady Kunterpunt is like a cartoon villain who’s actually too sweet to do anything evil. Lady Kunterpunt likes to be silly and not take things too seriously, while at the same time producing content that is very serious in its message. She’s an exploration of my trans identity in the sense that Lady Kunterpunt, as a character, is my ideal self. She is confident, beautiful,  funny, and she embraces her body. Lady Kunterpunt loves to look sexy but never actually acts on it, which is also part of how I embrace my own complicated sexuality. I think this question is kinda funny, because Lady Kunterpunt and I are exactly the same person, but being in drag somehow emboldens me to live loudly and freely. I think my day form sometimes questions herself, but Lady Kunterpunt knows her true power. Our power, I suppose.

How important for your health and wellness is the act of playing?
Drag is MEDICINE. Drag is THERAPY. Drag is probably the single most important thing to my well-being next to food and water. Drag lets me connect with other people in a magic way that my average self just doesn’t feel capable of. It lets me connect with myself, and explore complex feelings and ideas by just playing with them. They say laughter is the best medicine- and as a clown, I couldn’t agree more. 

What did you discover about yourself through the Drag Heals experience?
I learned how important it is to just say things out-loud. There are many moments on the show where my castmates and I reveal very personal things about ourselves- these are things we always knew, or maybe always felt, but sharing them in a space with people you love and who love you… it was very healing. I think just to be listened to, and know that others hear you, even if they don’t fully understand yet. Then taking these things are shouting them on stage- for me personally, it was a momentous, reaffirming occasion in my life. I won’t spoil the show for you, but my final project on Drag Heals is something that will stick with me forever. 

How can the drag community benefit from being more inclusive?
Inclusivity just makes sense. A diverse cast means a diverse audience, who in turn will bring more people and further diversify the community. When we consciously take action to be inclusive, the community grows and thrives. When we decide to be exclusive, be it intention or unintentional, the gaps in our community grow further, as does the amount of work required to bring us together again. I think all queer people can relate to the feeling of being silenced, which is why specifically we MUST be centering the Black and Indigenous Queers in our community who have been pushed aside for hundreds of years. We are only as liberated as our most marginalized. Inclusivity is the only way forward. 

Did you second guess yourself before auditioning for Drag Heals?  What made you follow through?
I absolutely second guessed myself before auditioning! Who doesn’t? There are a LOT of amazing performers across Canada, I didn’t really think I’d stand a chance. What made me follow through was the idea that Drag Heals wouldn’t be a competition. The idea that I could have a chance to work collaboratively with a cast of performers, and having Tracey to guide us as we developed our stories… that really made me want to move forward with my audition. Drag blowing up on a global scale has really escalated this sense of competition amongst performers, and I kinda hate it! I’m honoured that I had a chance to participate in drag media (Canadian no less!) that has a different attitude entirely. 

How would you describe your make-up and fashion aesthetic in drag?
Lady Kunterpunt’s aesthetic choices could be described as a living cartoon character ripped from the storyboards of classic Hanna-Barbara animations. She loves bright colours and clashing patterns- it’s literally my namesake (Kunterpunt is based on the German word “Kunterbunt”, which would be used to describe a bright motley of colours). She’s a campy mix of 60’s mod and 80’s goth with a skimpy burlesque twist. Kunterpunt LOVES to show skin, simply because the magic of drag allows me to really embrace traditionally feminine styles in a way that isn’t questioned by the average person. When I’m Kunterpunt I don’t have to worry about gender dysphoria because everyone in the room believes in the fantasy, and I can dress as freely as I wish. 

Meet Lady Kunterpunt in her interview with Tracey Erin Smith

What’s been most challenging about Drag Heals for you personally?
The filming process of Drag Heals was tough for me personally for a few different reasons. At the very beginning of filming I had lost my job- so immediately my stress levels were skyrocketed from like day 2 of filming. Now the actual work we do on the show is VERY emotionally heavy at times, and consequently the final products we end up with on the show required a lot of wading in those emotions. I don’t think I could have anticipated just how hard I worked during production, it ended up being a

What’s brought you the most joy?
This sounds so cheesy but the FRIENDSHIPS! The cast of Drag Heals are my family forever, we still work together frequently, call each other and check up. We shared some very special moments on set, and it brings me the most joy knowing that we’re still part of one another’s lives and will continue to be. Not even social distancing could break us apart.

On Facebook you can search up Lady Kunterpunt. Let’s be friends! 

You can also find me on YouTube at my channel DragASMR, as well my collaborative Sims gaming channel FoolProp that I run with my good friend Aura Nova.

DRAG HEALS season 2 premieres on Friday, October 2nd in Canada on OUTtvGo.com, OUTtv and Amazon, Vimeo and more internationally.

Watch the DRAG HEALS season 2 trailer here.

DRAG HEALS season 2 premieres on Friday, October 2nd

Toronto, ON – September 2, 2020

The highly anticipated second season of the hit documentary series DRAG HEALS is set to make its premiere this October 2nd, 2020 at 8pm ET/PT on OUTtv Canada, its digital platform OUTtvGO.com and OUTtv channels on Amazon and Apple TV.

DRAG HEALS season 2 is a hybrid stage workshop and documentary TV series that follows eight drag artists over an intensive ten day workshop to build their own show. In each workshop, a guest coach joins stage director Tracey Erin Smith in exploring soul-deep story sharing techniques as well as the unique talents and skills required from a drag performer.

The guest coaches this season include Leon Silvers, who developed drag therapy into a clinical practice, professional makeup artist Kosta MUA who helps refine and elevate the performers looks, choreographer Jeff Dimitrios who brings the moves, and community mentors Flarington King, Titus Androgynous, Beardoncé and Champagna who offer sage advice from their experience working as drag artists in Canada and around the world.

Over the course of the intensive workshops and story crafting, the participants dive deep into their personal lives to unearth lessons learned and bring them back to the audience as a gift. They are both the pirate and the pirated, the island and treasure. The resulting stories are emotional and cathartic, both for the drag artists and the audience who share in the experience.

“In a time when so many of us are feeling alone, viewers see how a diverse group of strangers can come together, and by sharing their deepest stories, create a beautiful community.” said Creator and Host Tracey Erin Smith.

“Drag Heals challenges the conventions of drag dominating television and ushers in something new – an inclusive and diverse ensemble featuring drag kings, queens, things and in-betweens with the youngest cast member eighteen years old and the eldest in their eighties.” said Director Charlie David. “Instead of a competition where negativity may thrive, Drag Heals is a celebration of the uniqueness of each participant. In the series, we tackle tough discussions head-on around the language and culture used in drag and when it can be unknowingly hurtful. An example would be the common use of the term ‘fishy’ as a compliment to a drag queen but how that word may be derogatory to women as it’s assigning a negative attribute to female anatomy. There’s also a lot of Black appropriation in drag used by non-Black people. I hope the series sheds a light on some of these challenges so we as the LGBTQ community can learn and do better. In Drag Heals, the cast isn’t just performing a lip synch, they’re grabbing hold of the mic and saying something important.”

“After a successful first season, we’re thrilled to welcome Drag Heals back for a second,” said Philip Webb, Head of Originals and Development at OUTtv. “This documentary series gives drag fans an emotional insight behind the scenes of eight drag artists who are at the very start of their drag journey and explores important topics such as gender expression and queer identity. Drag Heals is moving, relatable and uplifting.”

Season Two features 11 episodes that will release weekly in addition to a companion digital series, T with T.E.S., with stage director Tracey Erin Smith that will be released on the Border2Border Entertainment YouTube Channel and OUTtvGO.

About Border2Border Entertainment

Border2Border Entertainment produces and promotes award-winning, critically acclaimed film, television and digital projects for the LGBTQ+ audience. Dedicated to making each production experience enjoyable for our artists, business and broadcast partners, co-workers, and ultimately our audience. Our ongoing relationships with TV networks, film festivals and digital platforms keep our content in demand making our home-grown Canadian content watched by millions around the globe.

About OUTtv

OUTtv is the world’s first and Canada’s only national LGBTQ+ television network and streaming services. Home to a compelling mix of inclusive, queer-focused content from comedy to drama, documentaries, reality and award-winning movies. OUTtv is dedicated to telling stories by and for the community, with a library of over 3000 hours of LGBTQ+ content including more than 600 hours of original programming, making OUTtv the world’s leading provider of queer content.

Originals include The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula, The Whole Package, Trixie Mattel: Skinny Legend, Never Apart TV, My Trans Journey and the documentary strand OutSpoken. OUTtv is the license holder for the Canadian broadcasts of Emmy award winning RuPaul’s Drag Race, House of Drag, Naked Attraction and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. OUTtvGo is OUTtv’s streaming platform where subscribers can stream their favorite series and movies and discover new content exclusive to the service. OUTtvGo is available for iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Roku and on web browsers. OUTtv is also available in Canada as an Amazon Prime Video Channel and an Apple TV Channel. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @OUTtv or visit the website to learn more at outtv.ca.

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