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Slaying Shadows: Avaiyah Curves on Overcoming Adversity and Embracing Femininity

A drag queen sits on a stool with arms outreached

Avaiyah Curves shares a transformative journey from homelessness to embracing femininity through drag. This interview explores her impactful first performance, the integration of personal struggles into her drag narrative, and the behind-the-scenes lessons learned during Drag Heals. Avaiyah's evolution stands as a testament to drag's healing power and empowerment, showcasing a commitment to unapologetic self-expression and resilience against societal norms.

Share with us one of your most memorable performances. What made it special, and how did the audience react?

My most memorable performance was my first-ever performance, which happened during the time we were filming Drag Heals. I had never performed in drag before and always had this idea in my head that I needed to have an extravagant outfit and perfect choreography to match. Making friends with Izzy motivated me to perform at an open stage. I never had a proper outfit, but thanks to Charlie’s generosity, I was able to get a few outfits. I wore a cheetah print bodysuit and accessorized it to my liking. I went on stage with no expectations and performed “Lay it on me” by Kelly Rowland. I completely felt my fantasy on that stage. I ended up being the most tipped that night, going home with $35, and received an overwhelming ovation of applause from the crowd.

Beyond the glitz and glamour, what's a personal story or experience that you've incorporated into your drag performances?

My drag is all about "healing your inner child." That is a term we hear a lot today in society, but I feel a personal obligation to express that in my drag and performances so that other black boys from the urban ghetto can see that with perseverance and tenacity will come triumph and victory. Being a trauma survivor who’s experienced emotional abuse, negligence, and homelessness, I am happy to be in a position to show others that by doing the work, going to therapy, and practicing what you preach instead of taking on a victim mentality is where you will find bliss. Drag has given my life sheer bliss, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without understanding the importance of letting my inner child shine bright like the star I know I was born to be.

How has Drag provided a platform for you to express aspects of your identity or share important stories?

Growing up in Scarborough was very cut-throat, and being constantly bullied for my voice and mannerisms really instilled a lot of self-hatred and self-doubt in myself. As I got older, I realized that people were projecting their insecurities onto me, thus making me insecure. Now as a grown adult, I choose to honor my effeminate characteristics. I appreciate the LGBTQ community for making it easier for me to wear makeup in public, speak in a high tone, and to just continue to live my life because my life matters and nobody can and will take that joy away from me.

What motivated you to join Drag Heals, and how has the experience impacted your growth as a drag performer and as an individual?

For a long time, I have been buying wigs, accessories, etc., to gear up for a career in drag. In March 2021, I lost my mom to covid-19, and it was one of those situations where I felt like God was personally speaking to me when the audition was posted. I felt like I was living in my mother’s shadow, of this perfect image that she had of me, so her passing set me free of those imaginary expectations that I made up in my head. Although I watched the show, I did not know what I was getting myself into, but I knew that it was a call to action, and I needed to respond to it because of where I am at in my life. I always knew I wanted to entertain, but I did not know how I would do that as a male. My biggest goal is to be crowned on Canada’s Drag Race so Drag Heals was that steppingstone for me to go snatch that crown. It is a part of my healing journey, and I am eternally grateful to be chosen to share my story.

Can you share a behind-the-scenes moment or a lesson you've learned during the Drag Heals journey that viewers might not be aware of?

During our workshops with Tracey for our shows, I started to feel very uneasy because I do not have theatre training. A lot of the feedback Tracey was giving me was not resonating with me, and I started to feel stifled. While rehearsing with her and the group one day, I had a full meltdown. Tracey did her absolute best to get to the root of my issue, which was that my story is incomplete. The trajectory of my life does not end on high notes. Whenever I reach a personal milestone, life has a way of kicking me 10 steps back, so I felt like I needed to mention my mother more in my story because she plays such a pivotal role in my life. After Tracey assured me how proud she was of me and gave me pep talks to boost my outlook on my performance, there was a fire that was lit under my ass, and I could not be happier with the turn out. I learned that performance art is going to be uncomfortable, but with good people on your side, you can accomplish and overcome your inner saboteur. And drag heals the world!

What inspired the creation of your drag persona, and how does it reflect your personal identity or artistic vision?

I discovered my drag persona, Avaiyah Curves, at a low point in my life in the homeless shelter. In August 2010, I attempted suicide and I made an oath to myself that I was going to live my life unapologetically, no matter what that may look like to others. Being neglected by my mother and having to live 2 years in a shelter, I made the conscious decision to become a drag queen. I was working at Shopper’s Drug Mart at the time, and I would purchase cheap Halloween makeup kits and lock myself in my room and practice my makeup. I discovered season 8 of drag race, and the first queen I saw was Naomi Smalls. I said to myself, “If she can do it, I can too.” Avaiyah has changed my world forever, and I am forever indebted to her for answering my call. Avaiyah is a testimony of beauty and grace and the grit it takes to be feminine in the face of adversity. She is taking a stance on the attack of femininity in today's culture and society.


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