IN Magazine talks to Toronto’s Kitten Kaboodle, the fourth queen to be eliminated from Canada’s Drag Race season 4…
Kitten Kaboodle gave us life and a collection of stunning looks as the oldest queen (at the time of filming) to ever compete in franchise herstory. Kitten was sent home as part of episode six’s double elimination (You can read IN‘s recap of episode four “The Slay-Offs” right here). Kitten chats with In Magazine about competing in her 50s, what advice she would give to her younger self, and what inspired her to get back into drag after a hiatus.
Let’s jump right in. So you were kind of eliminated in the middle of the competition. Was there a challenge that you were disappointed you didn’t get to compete in and what was it?
Um, I would say the makeover challenge. I was really excited they were going to bring in my honey Jim, and I just think it would have been a lot of fun, you know? Something for us to do together and then feature Jim on the show as well. So, yeah, I think he was probably more disappointed than I was (laughs). At first he didn’t want to do it, but he was really getting into it.
And what about a challenge that you would want a do-over on?
A do over? Probably my design challenge. I could have gone bigger. I think when I heard the challenge, it was “upcycle”. To me, with upcycling you have to make sure that you can tell what it used to be. Do you know what I mean? But make it different. So, I think I took it literally, maybe? I should have just gone high fashion haute couture instead.
Speaking of which you’re an accomplished drag designer with some of your work even appearing on the show before you got a chance to appear on the main stage yourself, which one of your designs are you most proud of? It can be either your own work or look you made for another queen.
Oh gosh. Well, I loved…it wasn’t on the stage, but it was the promo look. I really enjoyed doing the promo look and also the steampunk look. I think because there were elements of corsetry in there and boning. We also did some different things, like we used molds and made these things out of resin, and molded them onto the actual costume. That was a little different for me and pushing it out of my regular element of just sewing. So, I liked that. I always enjoy learning something new.
As a sewer, was the design challenge easier than you expected or did you still find it difficult?
No, I didn’t. I mean, it all depends on what you get and what is available and who gets what first, right? Like, if you can get big dresses with stretch velvet, then it’s going to be something that you can make from scratch or whatever, and just use it as fabric. But if you don’t get that, you’re stuck with whatever you get. So that was the challenge, but I was quite actually happy with it and I wasn’t stressed or anything. When I sew I go into a zone. So when I’m making something, I just went into my zone and maybe I was a little quiet in the werk room while I was constructing, because that’s just the way I am, but I love that. And if you’re a sewer, then, you know, it’s the zone, like, don’t talk to me (laughs).
IN: I actually taught myself how to sew over the pandemic.
Oh, so you know that feeling!
Yeah! I figured I’ve been watching and recapping Drag Race for years, I should probably learn how to sew. But it’s hard. It’s not easy to construct a garment from scratch. So kudos to all of you.
I mean it obviously people that have more experience are going to be better at it on the show and have an advantage, but I think everybody did really well. Like, well.. Aimee’s was questionable, except now Balenciaga has a towel dress or something, right? I’m like, okay, I think Aimee did it first!
I can imagine that being eliminated is probably a mixed bag of emotions. So what was one thing that you were disappointed about when you were eliminated and one thing that you were kind of happy about?
I guess I was disappointed because…I mean, if I had done this 10 years earlier, I could have done cartwheels and everything else, and my kicks would have been a lot higher (laughs). You get a little older and you take risks if you want. I could have risked doing stuff like that, but then I know people my age that have done stuff and then they’ve injured themselves and that’s when they stop doing it. And I decided that I wasn’t going to risk those things for my health. I went on the show just to challenge myself that I could do it. And to just to experience it.
I think the older you get, the more you realize it really is about the experience. It’s about enjoying yourself, and enjoying your life, and enjoying the moments you have. Not the ultimate end goal of winning something. Cause, you know, once you get to that point, what else do you have? And you realize that’s not going to hold up. Right?
Was I disappointed? Of course I was disappointed! I had so much fun on the show, I would have loved to keep going and I would have loved to be in the top four, so that was disappointing. Something I really enjoyed, I enjoyed showcasing Kitten in general. I really liked the fact that I could show older people that we can still do stuff and you can still do new things and you never stop growing if you choose to not stop growing. You know, there’s life after 50.
How do you think your age gave you an advantage in the competition?
Because you’ve lived a long time, you’ve experienced a lot of things, so you can apply all your experiences to new situations. I found that a lot of times I kind of just sat back and watched everybody do their thing. And it kept me calm, you know. It was a little easier to keep myself balanced while I was on the show.
You experienced live drag for the first time at 15, which you talked about on the show.
Yeah, I went to a drag club in Calgary called The Backlot. It was in the back of a club called Myrt’s and in the back there was no liquor, so they weren’t as strict with letting people in. This is not a bar that’s open now. I know there’s a new Backlot in Calgary. This is not the same company, so I don’t want anyone to get into trouble (laughs). I saw the most amazing queens named Mardi, Tiggy, and Summer, and those were my first drag shows ever. Then after that, I started doing drag and I performed at the Parkside Continental a couple of years after that. So, I basically did drag from when I was 15 to probably about 20. And then work and life got in the way. I kind of moved around, so I gave drag up for many, many years.
So, what was the thing that made you want to jump back into it?
Well, I used to go to drag shows in Toronto when I moved here in 2000,and I especially loved one particular queen called Miss Conception. Miss Conception had a Broadway show and I love Broadway and I love musicals, and it was the best show ever. And it still is. And I love her dearly. She’s a friend of mine. She did it so well, and she had so much fun and had such a love for the same kind of music as well, and it just inspired me. So in 2012 I taught myself to sew, and that was kind of on my bucket list. And then I was like, “you know, since I’m sewing, maybe I’ll try for “Queen of Halloween” at Woody’s this year”. I made myself a costume and I did it. And that’s how I created Kitten Kaboodle and started doing it.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to you as a baby queen, what would it be?
Oh my God. I went through a lot of, you know, stuff with parents not understanding you. I think that if I could have had somebody like myself saying “You can do this, you are worth it.You are worthy”, and just having that sense of unconditional love and not a feeling of betrayal from a parent, you know what I mean? Because that’s a huge thing. I think that would have made a huge difference in my life. But I mean, I’m happy with my life the way it is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s made me the person I am. But definitely, If I could go back and be there as my little self’s guardian angel or something, I would definitely be like boosting that little kid up and make him feel loved and, you know, able.
And one last question. What is next for Kitten Kaboodle?
Uh, well, I love my life with Jim. We’re both kind of semi-retired. I’m still sewing, making costumes for people, and performing regularly at Woody’s. I enjoy it! We’ve always done that and it’s fun. I think that there are more opportunities coming my way, working on a one woman show, but nothing concrete yet.