Jimbo and Lemon on ‘harsh’ Canada’s Drag Race drama and conquering UK vs The World

Lemon and Jimbo.

Canada’s Drag Race faves Jimbo and Lemon are back for another bite of the apple in Drag Race UK vs The World.

The new series, which kicks off Tuesday (1 February) at 9pm on BBC Three (she’s going terrestrial, if you haven’t heard), brings together returning Drag Race queens from the UK, US, Canada, Holland and Thailand to compete for the title of Queen of the World.

Lemon may have fallen short of the crown in Canada, but this time she’s determined to show what she’s made of.

“This time coming in I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, and this time I had the means to do it, so my looks are exactly how I would have wanted them to be,” Lemon told PinkNews.

For me, on Canada’s Drag Race, I think my most difficult part of the entire season was just that my runway looks were not up to par and they were not what I expected them to be. I had these high expectations of what I wanted to look like and it was too hard for me to make.”

Jimbo is ready to show the world (again) what Canadian drag is all about. “I would say we’re somewhere in between the British and the Americans,” she told PinkNews. “America is known for their polish, the Brits are known for their comedy.

“Canadians are sort of the the middle sister in between who have learned a little bit from our American sisters about polish and presentation, and we are also very much like the British with our sense of humour.”

Although the inaugural season of Canada’s Drag Race was loved by most fans of the franchise, it was undeniably marred by the racist social media abuse directed at judge Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman by toxic viewers.

However, the negativity which engulfed the show as it aired was not palpable for the queens on set. In fact, the experience of filming the show was one of healing and self-acceptance for fan favourite and late bloomer Jimbo.

I came out late in my life. I was in my 20s when I came out and began embracing gay culture and all of those parts of myself which I was told were bad or shameful,” Jimbo told PinkNews.

“All those things [that were shameful] as a boy, those have all been now celebrated. All of those parts of myself that I was really afraid to delve into and showcase, my time on Canada’s Drag Race really changed that.”

Of course, fans of the show will remember it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Victoria, BC queen, who was on the receiving end of some harsh criticism on more than one occasion.

Reflecting on his time on the show, Jimbo acknowledged that Bowyer-Chapman could be harsh but also supported the actor’s claims that he was specifically encouraged to do so by the show’s producers.

“Yeah, it was really fricking harsh. Everyone’s response on the show isn’t made up, everyone wasn’t going to the workroom and crying because Jeffrey and the rest of them were so nice – it was because they were harsh, that was how that show was produced,” Jimbo explained.

Jeffrey was cast as the Simon Cowell, that sort of harsher judge, and he was directed in that direction. Naturally, he went in that direction because I think it’s kind of fun to be that campy bitchy judge,” she went on to say.

“Jeffrey is very spiritual, he’s very kind, he’s very supportive. Was he like that on the show? No, not necessarily. There wasn’t really room for him to be that way, that’s not what the show is about.

“Was he a victim of an edit? No. Did it show everything that Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman is? Absolutely not.

“He is the sweetest, most supportive lover of drag, and such a lover of all of us but he was playing a character, and his character was the bitchy judge, and he delivered.”

Lemon agreed with Jimbo.

“I think, the edit aside, him being a Black man definitely added to the reasons why he was getting so much hate, because there were other judges saying the same thing with a different skin tone and not getting the same kind of messages he was,” she said.

“I think Drag Race has a fandom that definitely does lean towards, you know, white people and white presenting people being more celebrated or successful,” she admitted. “I think that’s something that’s hopefully changing and something that we should all be paying attention to, and talking about.

“Jeffrey was an absolute legend, and it hurts my heart to think that he would have bad feelings about Canada’s Drag Race.”

Despite the unfortunate controversy, Jimbo believes that Canada’s Drag Race season one sparked meaningful conversations about the ways we judge each other within the community.

“It created a dynamic scenario which led to a worldwide conversation about judging and about opinions about drag. So it was very successful… It just wasn’t always the sweetest way to say things.”

As for the second season of Canada’s Drag Race, Jimbo feels the latest crop of queens got off too easily. “I think everyone was way too nice compared to my season. This was a big season of everyone just singing ‘Kumbaya’ and brushing each other’s hair.

“I wanted some more drama. I wanted people to come for each other, I wanted to see the fight. I wanted to see the struggle. It just seemed like everyone was just shaking hands and patting each other on the back and sharing snacks. I wanted some more spice.”


RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs The World starts at 9pm Tuesday (1 February) on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer, with new episodes airing every Tuesday.