Canadian drag performer slash professional ballet dancer Brooke Lynn Hytes made HERstory earlier this year when she become the first ever queen from the North to sashay into the Drag Race werkroom.
After winning a total of three challenges and providing fans with one of the most gag-worthy lip syncs in recent memory (Sorry Not Sorry), Brooke earned a position in the coveted top two and fought for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar alongside Yvie Oddly in the epic showdown for the crown.
Ultimately, Yvie was declared the winner and Brooke missed out on an extra 100,000 doollahz in her bank account. But as we’ve seen over the years, queens who make second or third (or fourth or fifth) place often go on to have massive mainstream success, such as Adore Delano, Katya, Shangela, Manila Luzon and Courtney Act.
We caught up with the Canadian ballerina and discussed her time on the Emmy Award-winning series, whether she’ll return for All Stars in the near future, and what it was like to be pressed up against Justin Trudeau’s abs.
How has life been since appearing on Drag Race?
It’s been amazing, honestly. This has all been such a blessing and it’s incredible to have so much love and support from everybody. Even though I didn’t win, I’m super proud of myself and happy with how I did. It’s been a month of working, I’ve not had a lot of time to sit and process what happened, because I’ve just been so busy!
You won three maxi-challenges, so I don’t blame you. Was there anything you didn’t showcase that you wish fans could’ve seen?
I won three maxi-challenges, three mini-challenges and lip synced twice, so I had quite a versatile run on the show! I kind of hit every point. And no, not really. I’ve been thinking about that a lot and I’m really happy with everything that happened because I showed my weak points, I showed I was vulnerable and I showed that I was really strong at the same time. It’s important to show a range like that when you’re competing on a show like this, because people are looking to get to know you, and that’s how they start to root for you and start to like you, and can see that you’re a human being and you’re not perfect.
You filmed the show last year, what was it like watching it back?
We came back 4th July last year! It’s so weird and surreal. I think it was nine months after we finished shooting that we finally started airing the show, and that’s the time it takes to make a person. It was a long period of time to wait, but it was very surreal watching it back because there’s a lot of things you don’t remember happening. For instance, my whole thing in Untucked when I’m hiding in the sofa cushions – I have no memory of that! Also… I was drunk. I remember the week it was being aired and one of the producers called me and said, ‘I have been laughing at you all week’, because she was editing the episode. I was like, ‘I don’t even know what you’re talking about.’ She said, ‘Just watch Untucked and you’ll understand.’ It was fun to see moments like that.
You’ve now become an iconic meme.
Yeah I have. A meme. That’s awesome. That’s really what the show is all about, it’s all about having moments like that. That’s what people remember you by, it’s not necessarily winning the most challenges or anything like that, it’s about connecting with the fans and having social media moments that could become memes or things like that.
Gia Gunn never reached top three on either of her seasons yet she’s iconic of memes.
Exactly! Alyssa Edwards – same thing. She never reached the top and she’s arguably one of the most successful drag queens in the history of the show. Same with Katya, Trixie Mattel, who won eventually, but y’know? Those kind of people. Vanjie. Look at Vanjie, perfect example. She went home first and she was the most popular queen from that entire season off of one episode. It’s all just about connecting with the fans in some way or another.
Speaking of Vanjie… I don’t want to go too much into your romance because you’ve already been bombarded with questions and you’re bored of it by now, but was it hard having a romance broadcast on live television?
[Laughs] Yeah, it was a little hard. It was nice though, because when it was happening, in the moment, it was nice and whether people wanna believe it or not, it was very genuine. We really had feelings for each other. In that environment, it was so nice to have somebody, because it’s such an intense and stressful environment to be in, every day for six weeks. Then to have this safety blanket, comfort zone of someone that you can just hug and kiss, because you don’t have your friends or family there, so it was nice to have that. I’m really thankful for it, and I’m thankful for him.
How is your relationship with Vanjie now?
We are on good terms. It’s been a year. We ended things in, I think October, so it’s been a while and yeah we’re friends. We talk. We don’t talk everyday, but we talk probably once a week or once every two weeks. There’s still a lot of love there.
Not only were you part of the first on-screen Drag Race romance, but you were part of one of the most sickening lip syncs in history. Did you realise your battle with Yvie would become so iconic?
No! Not really, I don’t know! I knew my runway was going to be an iconic moment just because of the judge’s reaction. I was thankful for that, and I thought I would be safe from the bottom because of my runway, because all of the other girls were like, ‘You’re not in the bottom now because of that runway.’ Yvie was the only person on that entire season that I was scared to lip sync against. She was the only one who matched me in terms of physical ability, in terms of tricks and shit like that. No one else can really do what I can do, except for her. I was definitely putting it all out there and doing everything I possibly could.
Were you not scared of Silky? At that point she was talking a lot about her lip sync abilities…
[Laughs] No, I wasn’t scared of Silky. I mean, yeah. I love Silky but she definitely talks a big game. Unfortunately, that was the lip sync she had on the show. Silky is a sickening performer, as you saw at the finale, her lip sync against me was amazing. It was incredible to watch back. I’m really happy she had that moment at the finale because it redeemed her lip sync against Nina, because that was not the greatest of moments…
And she also became a meme after her performance in Queens Everywhere, where she did a jump split thingy majiggy on the floor.
Yeah, exactly! Oh yeah her pancake splat. I don’t know how she does that. I would not recommend trying that at all [laughs].
As a lip sync assassin, I have to ask: what is your favourite lip sync of all time?
Oh shit. My ultimate lip sync? Ooh. I do love the Tatianna and Alyssa Edwards one, Shut up and Drive. You know what else I love? Manila Luzon… I forget who she was against! MacArthur’s Park. That was a sickening one. Oh and of course – and I don’t remember who she was against – but Roxxxy Andrews when she did her wig reveal. Was that Alyssa? Is that when Alyssa went home?
Noooo, it was a double shantay.
Oh yeah it was a double save. That was a really good one.
So, let’s get it out of the way: All Stars?
[Laughs] Oh my god. That’s like asking a woman who had a baby if she’s going to have another baby. I don’t know! I haven’t been asked. I think they’re in the process of making one right now, or they’re making one soon, so probably not season five. But I mean, I’m definitely open to going back in the future. I’m riding this wave right now, so I don’t need to go back, and I don’t necessarily want to go back because it’s a lot to put yourself through! But in the future, I’m absolutely open to it. I’m so thankful for the franchise and everything it’s done for me, I’ve had a really positive experience, so I would definitely do it again. One day! In a couple of years.
All Stars 6 may premiere in two months at this rate, so we’ll see you in two months then?
Exactly! We’re just pumping out like four seasons a year now.
It was recently revealed that there’s going to be a Drag Race Canada. Are you excited for that?
I know! My god, isn’t that exciting?
It’s going to be really great. I’m happy because, and I know I’ve said this in a lot of interviews, but it’s tough in Canada because there’s nowhere and nothing for the girls to do. There’s nothing to be inspired by or aspire to be because we don’t have a big pageant scene, so there’s no national Canadian drag pageants to enter. We don’t have television shows, so once you get booked in the bars, that’s really all you can do. I’m really excited that we have it coming so we can push ourselves to be better.
Are there any Canadian queens you’d like to see on the show?
So many people! I would love to see Miss Conception, Tynomi Banks, Raye Sunshine – there’s so many girls across Canada that I’ve met in my travels or just working in the bars that I’m a huge fan of. I just hope everyone auditions and puts themselves out there for it. I know we have so much talent out there and I’m so excited that we finally get a chance to show off what we can do.
Do you think this will lead to Drag Race Australia, Drag Race France, Drag Race Germany etc?
I heard there was going to be a Drag Race Germany…
Oh yeah, the one Heidi Klum is set to present…
Yeah, which would be interesting. I don’t know how I feel about that. It should be hosted by a drag queen. I love Heidi Klum, but it’s a drag show and so a drag queen should be at the helm of it.
What about you? Not Germany, but the Canada version…
I have no idea! I literally found out about it when it was posted online. If they call me, I’m not going to say no. We’ll have to wait and see, I’ve not heard anything about it yet, but I’m sure they have someone fantastic lined up for it.
You recently met Justin Trudeau – how was that?
He was so lovely. He was the nicest. It was so cool and a surreal experience. Even going up to meet him, it was such a relaxing environment. I thought there would be security everywhere, there was security but it was relaxed. Nobody did a background check, nobody searched our bags… nothing. We just walked in and he was surrounded by staff, all of which were literally gay men in shorts and tank tops! It was so funny and so Canadian. He could not have been lovelier, he gave us the best hugs. He is one of those people that when he hugs you, you can feel it. I felt every one of his abs pressed against me.
Oh my Jesus.
Yeah, it was lovely. He had a full on conversation and then we took pictures. You know when someone says ‘let’s take a picture?’ and it signals the end of the conversation? We took the picture and then he kept on talking [laughs]. I was like, ‘Oh, we’re still talking?’ So he was really lovely, sweet and engaging, and could not have been nicer.
Do you realise how many people you’re gonna make jealous with that abs comment?
It was body pressed against body. It was a hug hug, like a bear, a tight good squeeze. I was like a little school girl, ‘Hehehehehe.’
Okay stop I can’t take this anymore. LGBTQ people love him. You’d never seen other high-ranking officials hugging a drag queen…
No! The gag of it was, his team reached out to us. We literally got an email the day before saying, ‘Hey, Justin wants to meet Brooke Lynn.’ That was the craziest thing of all, that they reached out to me. I think a lot of people on his staff were fans of mine. I don’t think Justin was like, ‘Oh my god, Brooke Lynn Hytes!” The leader of a country reached out to a drag queen.
You were literally summoned by Justin Trudeau.
I was summoned to meet the Prime Minister. Like, ‘Hey, I want to meet you, man in a wig.’ I was like, ‘Okay.’ It was the highlight of my life.
Final question: what can we expect next from Brooke Lynn Hytes? Will you follow in the footsteps of other Drag Race queens and release an album?
Oh god no. Over my dead body will I be releasing music. I don’t wanna waste my money or anybody’s time with that! Well right now, I’m exploring a lot of options. I don’t have a specific avenue because I want to do everything. I wanna be in film, I wanna do modelling, I wanna do runway. I’m looking at everything right now. I have a lot of irons in the fire, secret projects I’m working on. I can’t say a lot about that but things will be coming soon. Right now, I’m fully booked and fully blessed.