Being a great performer runs in both her families…
By Al Donato
If watching Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors death-dropping is on your bucket list, you should start following Olivia Limehart Sky. At just 11 years old, the Winnipeg youth is already a rising star in her city’s vibrant drag scene. She confesses that she’s usually nervous before performing, but that fades away when it’s time to shine.
“Once I’m on stage, it feels super awesome. I’m more confident in drag,” Olivia says.
A sashaying descendant of the House of Sky (helmed by revered drag mother Prairie Sky, Olivia has range for days; you’re just as likely to hear her getting cheers for a feisty Lizzo lip-sync as you are to hear whoops of laughter over her comedic schtick as a man-eating plant. Same goes for her style. She’ll have her signature well-arched bold brows and big eyelashes for many appearances, but the junior entertainer’s stockpile of eyeshadow palettes, wigs and on-theme outfits lends her a scene credibility lacking in many queens twice her age.
Ron Kixen, a.k.a. Olivia, has made major headway since he fell in love with drag a year ago. Seeing Kim Chi and other Season 8 contestants in an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race led him to voice interest in the craft to his mother, Anishinaabe comedian Issa Kixen. A Two-Spirit performer themself and with plenty of connections to local drag, Issa was fully on-board with the idea.
“When Ron was younger, he was very shy and reserved. When he said he wanted to try drag, I was like, ‘Yes, I will do everything in my power to support that,’” Issa says.
Olivia’s received support from another family, too; Issa notes that many drag performers, especially Indigenous drag queens like their her drag mother, as well as Vida Lamour DeCosmo and Club 200 regular Anita Stallion, have taken Olivia under their wing. Dubbing themselves Olivia’s aunties and sisters, they help Olivia hone her art and engage in the age-old drag tradition of lending wigs when needed.
“There’s similarities in both cultures I really dig,” Issa says. “As an Indigenous person and somebody who goes by the clan system, I would compare it to that. It’s very matriarchal.”
Even with all the love, it’s not always easy; Olivia’s age limits her from the bars and nightclubs most queens flock to. But being 11 means she can connect to fellow youth in meaningful ways. She’s read aloud to a packed library for drag queen storytime and has taught Winnipeg kids how to paint their faces at a drag 101 workshop, co-hosted by Guncle Smokey, a.k.a. their mom’s own drag persona –Issa joined in on the fun after dipping a toe at a fundraiser for the queer-positive drop-in centre Sunshine House last July, and hasn’t looked back since.
Olivia’s community work has made her someone LGBTQ2S+ kids admire, especially those who wish they could express themselves authentically.
“I really want to do what you’re doing, but my parents wouldn’t allow me to do this,” one told Olivia after her workshop.
Sentiments like these make what Olivia does out of drag impressive, too. Ron co-founded a GSA at his school with two of his friends. All are welcome to their weekly rainbow lunch club meeting, whether they’re questioning, openly LGBTQ+, closeted or an ally.
That inclusivity was extended to Ron by drag elders; now it is something he’s extending to fellow students, andit’s also the heart of the advice he gives kids curious about getting into drag.
“Find people who can help you,” Olivia advises.
Issa echoes those words of wisdom to parents of queer kids who want to explore gender presentation.
“Even if it’s scary, even if you think your child might be ostracized, there’s so much love within the queer community. You will be embraced,” they say.
Winnipeg residents are lucky to see Olivia’s drag journey unfold, but there’s a chance other Canadians will be able to watch her death-drop in person: she’s hopeful that someday she and her mom will do a Canada-wide tour of Pride celebrations across the country.
AL DONATO is a queer non-binary journalist. Born and raised in Toronto, they’re currently an associate editor at HuffPost Canada. They adore bubble tea, anti-oppression, their nanay’s cooking and queer dance nights.