IN Magazine talks to Edmonton’s Melinda Verga, the seventh queen to be eliminated from Canada’s Drag Race season 4…
According to the internet, Melinda Verga is the undisputed fan-favourite and Meme Queen of Canada’s Drag Race’s fourth season. Melinda was sent home at the end of season four’s makeover episode (You can read IN‘s recap of episode eight “A Star is Born” right here). She chats with In Magazine about being surprised at her improv skills, what was going through her head during that now iconic Untucked moment, and standing by her rainbow explosion entrance look.
You look beautiful. The hair is giving.
Thank you! Thank you. (pauses to look at herself on the screen) Sorry! I just had to check myself out for a moment (laughs).
You started performing drag at 37?
What made you want to become a drag queen and bring Melinda to life?
Well, I was in Toronto for seven years. I attended fashion school there and while I was there I was also coaching and dressing girls for pageants, like, major pageants, right? And coming back here, we didn’t have the same kind of scene, we didn’t have the same opportunities as I did in Toronto. So I felt, if I can’t put my clothes on other people, I’ll put it on myself. I wish I had a more amazing story, but that’s pretty much how I got started with really wanting to show more, more of my work. Plus I have this background in design, singing, dancing, and acting. So I just put everything together and then here we are.
And you were the first Edmonton queen to compete on the show. So what’s unique about Edmonton’s drag scene?
Oh! Edmonton’s drag scene is just so diverse, like we’ve got all kinds of drag performers in the city. You know, Edmonton is the kind of city where you don’t dress to blend in or to belong. Everyone just kind of does their own thing. That’s what I love about the city! Like we’re just so in your face about a lot of things. I think it’s the weather, just the climate really forces us to just be in your face and be really tough. So when it comes to expressing yourself, people are also as in your face and as bold. So we’re not afraid to just be ourselves and be unapologetic about it. I mean, I walked into the workroom with my bright rainbow outfit thinking I was all that and a bag of chips (laughs) because I wanted it to be a visual assault of happiness, of vibrance, and diversity and inclusion. So that’s what my city is about.
And speaking of looks you wore on the show, which was your favourite one that you wore?
The favourite one that I wore, actually, I would have to say was that entrance look.
It was iconic in its own way.
It was! Obviously the Vivian Westwood look is up there as well, but mainly because I also made it. But I also made part of the rainbow look. A little bit of a background to what that is about. I’m the first Edmonton Queen, so I was really thinking, “Oh my God, what am I going to wear to really introduce Edmonton to the world?” And in the summer of 2022, there was a protest in our city outside of the big library downtown because we were doing a Drag Queen Story Hour there. I wasn’t one of the participants, but the fact that that has come to this city, I’m like, “No. No, no, no.” So, a bunch of us went there and, and really gathered around and counter protested, and that really stuck in my mind. The dancing,the rainbow flags, the happiness that we showed, really stuck in my mind. So, when I was planning for my entrance look, the first time that Edmonton’s gonna walk through that workroom, what did I want to show? Rainbows. Happiness. Vibrance. Inclusion. High energy. And I think I achieved that.
A few weeks ago, we saw you get very passionate in Untucked, which became the second highest rated episode of the entire series so far. What was going through your head when the tension became that high? And looking back, would you have still said what you said about being done with the competition?
To be quite honest, nothing was going through my head (laughs). Nothing! I blacked out. I really just kind of, yeah, okay, for a moment I lost control and my mouth just started doing its thing.That is human nature. That is my human nature anyway. Would I change anything? No, it happened for a reason. It’s there. It allowed people to see a not just vulnerable, but broken side of who I am and, and many people as well. You know, often enough, we’re so scared to be judged. And so we control and manufacture what we’re going to say and how we’re going to be perceived publicly. And at that point, it was just a human being having a very human experience. And so would I go back and change it, no, it is what it is. And I said what I said, and here we are! People are responding. Completely opposite than what I had expected.
I think it really humanized the competition, too.
Yeah, a hundred percent.
And I can imagine how bad the pressure gets in there.
And you know what, that didn’t happen just because of that. Obviously, there was like a pileup of other things, you know, the stress from leaving my partner behind, to make sure that he was okay physically, mentally, and also financially. And then, coming in and thinking that I was going to be well received from episode one, but then I almost went home. to then being team captain, choreographer, and in some way a shrink to the rest of my team during the girl group challenge just to make sure that everyone is feeling okay, and nothing was paying off. And one of my members ended up going home and that weighed very, very heavily on me up until the point that I helped other queens during the design challenge and then I felt kind of thrown under the bus, not kind of, but I felt thrown under the bus at that time that they would question that I was still there. When somebody else saw my value and my worth in that competition, she felt compelled to save me, and the rest is history.
You had such a roller coaster of a journey too. You had really high highs, you had lows that ended up being iconic moments of the show’s history. All things considering, I think you had a great journey on the show.
I’m the most versatile queen of the season! (laughs)
Let’s go back to your partner, he joined you in the workroom for this week’s challenge. What did it mean to have him there with you at this point in the competition?
Oh, first of all, I was just so happy that he was okay. All those weeks that I was wondering in my hotel room, just thinking, “Oh my God, is he alive? Is he okay?” And I told him, “you only call me when it’s an absolute, absolute emergency. That’s the only time that you will call me. Otherwise, I wanna, I wanna keep my head in the game.” You know what I mean? So, that whole time, I’m like, “Oh, is he gonna call now? Am I gonna get a phone call now?” That whole time! I was always on edge about what’s happening back home. So for him to finally walk through that door, it was just.. I collapsed. Well, y’all saw it. I was a mess, but a good mess.
Was there a specific challenge or skill before you started the show that you thought was going to be really hard and then it ended up being something that you really excelled at?
Snatch Game! I was not known in Edmonton to be a funny queen. Like, I was always a dancing queen, a stunting queen, a singing queen, but not known to be a funny queen. I do know that I’m funny with my friends, that when I’m just KiKi-ing with them, I can be funny and just let my hair down.So for me to be able to do that at that scale, in front of all those cameras, in front of all these celebrities… I mean, okay, let’s go try this. I know I was prepared, I just have never done improv here in the city, let alone on international TV, so I’m glad that one paid off.
Your Snatch Game performance was so funny. I was laughing out loud. I had to pause the show so I could really focus on what was happening.
I mean, oddly enough, that’s what came to me naturally. I guess I just never really recognized that part of myself, which was always there. But when I started to really just marry my Melinda and myself, like my, you know, myself, that’s, that’s the person that you saw a lot of on the show. You know, the one that’s unhinged that just allowed themselves to be messy, that allowed themselves to just look ugly and all that stuff. That was what you saw a lot of.
Obviously being on Drag Race gives you an incredible platform. What do you hope to do with yours?
Okay, so I’m really big on paying it forward and thinking that our actions have consequences. So hopefully, if there’s someone out there in the world right now who’s feeling down, who’s doubting themselves and feeling like they can’t continue or push through their difficulties right now, hopefully that person sees something in my story and realizes that, no, I have value, I have worth, and, and I can keep going and find happiness despite of all my difficulties and hopefully in turn inspire other people. I’m big on that. If I can somehow inspire someone else, hopefully that creates some sort of ripple effect and that person in turn can inspire other people. It’s big, like I said on the show, I’m realizing this is bigger than just my own goals and myself.
What’s next for Melinda Verga?
Well, I definitely hope to be booked and blessed! So, if y’all are looking for someone to do your quinceanera, your bar mitzvah, your divorce parties, holler at this girl. Also! I just launched my website officially. It’s www.melindaverga.com. Merch is now available! The children have been asking for it for weeks and it’s finally launched. It’s live. It’s good to go. Go get your merch. Go fill your goats with gratitude!