It’s 8 p.m. in the Ob, and Koko Domenique Shennel takes to the stage with her performance of ‘Killing me Softly’ by The Fugees.
Sitting in the audience is Tanisha Patriquin. It’s her first time attending a drag show, but suddenly the diva herself, Shennel, grabs hold of her hand and throws her on stage in front of 65 people to join her in song and dance.
It was quite the moment for Patriquin, who later said she wasn’t nervous at all, and empowered Shennel, who is no stranger to the art of Impersonation.
The scene and many others played out at the SA Pride Centre March 8, which hosted a drag show that included “Queeroke” in the Observatory.
Koko Shennel was crafted 23 years ago at a birthday party in Toronto. After her first performance, she later decided to add the name Domenique to give it a little more, “oomph.”
Aside from performing in drag shows, she is a vocal advocate in the Ottawa ATS-LGBTQ community. For her, it’s all about living your truth and trying to perform songs that have meaning and can inspire people.
She recognizes that “We have made strides in community but there is still a long way to go.”
And for the people in this world that aren’t able to be themselves at the moment, she offers some words of advice,
“You are not alone, there is a community out there so feel free to reach out; there are people willing to listen and hear you out.”
While very confident, and comfortable on stage, Koko Shennel admits that it is not easy for her, a person of colour, and almost 6 ft., to get on stage in makeup and drag and perform songs in front of people. But that doesn’t stop her,
“I’m here, I’m proud, I’m loud and I’m going to stand up and be respected.”
The other performers of the evening included Dirty bingo host Krystal Caring, who opened up the show with “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, prancing around the audience in her glittery purple gown.
The crowd also gave a warm welcome to guests, Zelda Marshall and Master Cameron Eric Leon who held nothing back during his performance by ripping off a leather jacket only to reveal two glittery tassels covering his unmentionables underneath, and then stripping down to a red leather thong by the end of his performance. The audience was granted a ten-minute intermission to “cool down”.
Pride Week continued until March 10 with events lined up including a human library, sparkly stress jars, and Pride Prom.