Like a breath of fresh (and intimidating) air, Anastarzia Anaquway breezed into the Canada’s Drag Race work room and had her fellow competitors shook. What they didn’t realize is that she was equally as intimidated by their fierceness. While her Drag Race run has ended, Anaquway has big plans. From a return to the pageant world to continuing to tell the stories of the fans she has fallen in love with, this Bahamian stunner is going to continue to show everyone why she is going to keep telling those stories.
Michael Cook: You are one of the trailblazers on the first season of Canada’s Drag Race. What was it like to be part of this illustrious group of performers?
Anastarzia Anaquway: It was amazing, nothing short of that. Walking into the experience, none of us knew what to expect, what will happen, what we will say and what we will do. Then we get into it and these challenges are thrown our way. What I love is that it makes us rise the occasion, even if we have doubts in our minds. The first episode we were given these boxes and while I am good at sewing, we don’t get to choose what is in the box and then-by the way-you only have a day! We are forced to rise to the occasion and push against the boundaries that we did not know existed.
MC: Your name is beyond well known to pageant watchers, including the Miss Black Continental At Large title. Your pedigree in the pageant world was arguably one of the strongest that Canada’s Drag Race has seen. Did you feel like your fellow competitors immediately saw you as a threat when you walked into the work room?
AA: Not only did I feel that they looked at me that way, they actually said it (laughs). I mean, Priyanka, as I was walking to the table, said “ohh pageant queen”. Juice Boxx sat there with her mouth completely open like “oh shit, she’s here”!? The thing about the Toronto queens is that they already know what I give. I have done five Toronto pageants and all five I won on my first try; my reputation precedes me. There was a moment of intimidation on all of their behalf. The flip side is,I walked into the workroom and I was just as intimidated by them because I too, know what these Toronto girls give. The other girls, I had no clue who they were. I think we were all intimidated to some extent definitely.
MC: What is the drag scene like in Canada as opposed to other parts of the world.
AA: The scene in Canada is very eclectic. Every style of drag that is represented in the world is represented here in Canada. The bearded queens, the hairy queens, the pageant queens, the showgirls, the look queens, all of it. It is all represented here. Before I moved here, I was pretty much familiar with the pretty queens and the pageant queens. Then I got here and I said “does this bitch have a beard?” (Laughs). Then I saw Allysin Chaynes, with a hairy chest, and I fell in love with these people and their style of drag. Being in Canada made me accept and appreciate every style of drag
MC: You were very honest about your experiences in your country, including being shot in your native Bahamas. Have these experiences made you into a much stronger performer and person?
AA: That is 100% accurate. The one thing that I hate in life is being vulnerable, I absolutely hate it. The thing about reality television is that you don’t walk in the door saying “today I am going to say I got shot”. The conversations just flow. Where I got the courage to tell the story I don’t know, it wasn’t planned. It just came out and I am grateful that it did, it started some conversations in my country that needed to be started. I have now been blacklisted, called the enemy of the state, I am fine with that because the conversation that needed to start has started. My incident took place seven years ago, and the country may have changed by then. I would love if the country would come forward and say “we have grown since then” rather than say that I was lying. My story speaks to seven years ago and I cannot speak to what is going on in the country now.
MC: The question now, what do you want to do in a post Canada’s Drag Race world?
AA: There is just so much that I want to do. I have been provided a platform by Drag Race and what we do with that platform is totally up to us. What I want to do with mine is continue to tell my story and to continue to tell the stories of those that don’t have a voice or a platform to tell theirs.
There was a young guy that emailed me several days ago and he sent me a picture of him and his mother from when he was about nine years old. In the message, he said that he and his mother had not been seeing eye to eye because of his sexuality. He said “today she saw your story and she broke. We had the conversation that we needed to have”. At the end of the story she said “Anastarzia, thank you so much for traveling back in time and healing that young boy that was so broken”.
Stories like that I do want to tell, I have to tell them. I also want to meet our fans. When COVID disappears, I want to hug, I miss that human contact, especially considering I am a concierge for an airline; that is what I do, I deal with people. Lastly, I want to return to the pageant world. Pageantry is what brought me here, it is my passion and my first love. I want to return to the pageant world; that is what I want to do post Drag Race.
MC: Of all of the judges on Canada’s Drag Race, who do you think has given you the biggest lesson while you were there?
AA: (Laughs) I don’t think any of them gave me any lessons while I was there, I will be completely honest. I came in there knowing who I was. It may not be who you wanted me to be or who you would have liked for me to be, but I stayed true to who I was from start to finish. Call me stoic, say that I lacked personality, whatever you want to say it is your right to say it, but I stayed true to who I was.
MC: What is the biggest lesson that you have learned about yourself since we have been in quarantine?
AA: It has taught me that I am lazy as hell (laughs). I actually hated it; I hated so much of it. I am a concierge, so I am a people person. Being away from humans, it kind of played on me. When you are left with just your thoughts and live alone like I do, it can be scary sometimes. I have learned that I can overcome anything. Being here by myself it started to drive me crazy, but I am still here to tell the tale baby. I am an overcomer.
“Canada’s Drag Race” airs on Crave & WOW Presents Plus. It also airs on Logo on Monday Night starting July 27th (check local listings)