Does the idea of drag as therapeutic or being healing resonate with you? Why?
Drag has always been deeply therapeutic for me. In the other five years I’ve been performing in drag I have found so much joy, relief, and authenticity that has meant so much to me. I’m a trauma therapist and I really feel privileged to do the job that I do, but it can also be really emotionally draining some days. Drag is a major part of my own self-care routine. It lets me feel creative and express myself in a way that’s really resourcing for me, and I don’t think I could have predicted how therapeutic that would be for me when I started doing it!
Meet Cyril Cinder in this clip from episode 5 of Drag Heals season 2
How important for your health and wellness is the act of playing?
I think one of the great loses in our society is that fact that adults are so restricted in how they’re allowed to play. We can be looked down on or shamed for being goofy and silly, and that’s so sad – it’s important to be able to let go and play! I think that drag is a way that a lot of us get around those restrictions and shame. We get up on stage as a character who is big and exaggerated, and they’re allowed to do whatever we want, and that lets us play. We should never have to feel bad for something that brings us that kind of joy, even if it might look weird to someone else.
Cyril Cinder is a drag king who stars in Drag Heals season 2.
How can the drag community benefit from being more inclusive?
I think that every community benefits from diversity. A diversity of voices and experiences allows a community to grow and expand in new directions that they may not have otherwise, and I do not see drag as an exception to that rule. Including more diverse identities along the lines of gender identity and expression, race, ability, background, and styles of drag will only push the boundaries of drag further and make it better! I think that drag runs the risk of being pigeonholed into a very narrow vision of what it can truly be, and therefore stagnating, if the diversity that already exists within the community isn’t seen and respected. Drag has always existed as a way for marginalized people to demand the spotlight in their full glory and dare the audience to blink – expanding diversity and representation within the community is something that comes from the very heart of the origins of drag.
Did you second guess yourself before auditioning for Drag Heals? What made you follow through?
I was definitely nervous to audition for Drag Heals. I knew it would be an emotional process on a very public forum, and part of me was scared to be that vulnerable to anyone with an Amazon Prime or OutTV account! And at the same time, I’m in the unique position of being one of the very first drag kings on television. I felt a lot of pressure to represent drag kings as a community who are often omitted from the mainstream drag conversation. But I also knew that I was willing to put in the work, and I think that was part of why I decided to follow through. I was scared, but I was also excited by the opportunity to show what a drag king can do.
What’s been most challenging about Drag Heals for you personally?
I think one of the most challenging things for me personally about Drag Heals was the time crunch. Working full time in my private practice in Ottawa, driving the 5 hours to Toronto and back each weekend, and creating a number that was totally unique from anything I had done before was a whole new challenge for me! I can take months to create a new act from start to finish, so doing it all in one month was a lot. I also really wanted to be proud of my performance, which can be hard when you’re more than a bit of a perfectionist.
What’s brought you the most joy?
Spending the time was the cast and crew was so much fun! It was great to have these drag filled shooting days. Some of cast and guests I knew before the show, but a lot of them were new faces to me. I hope I’ve made some lifelong friends through the show!
What do you hope the TV audience gets out of watching Drag Heals?
I hope that people who watch the show are able to expand their definition and understanding of what drag is and what it can be. And that they see just how much work goes into it! There’s more than just the towering glamazon, as amazing as she is. And I also hope that people can see a bit of themselves reflected back at them in the cast, and that they’re seeing that part being loved, welcomed, and celebrated. I hope they know that they’re worthy of a good and giving life, and that they can expect more than just tolerance from themselves and others.
And be sure to join our Drag Heals Facebook page to connect with all the guest coaches and performers!
Meet Cyril Cinder in episode 5 of the Drag Heals sister series, T with T.E.S.