Words: Markus Bidaux
Category is... SPOILER ALERT! Please note this interview reveals the result of Canada's Drag Race episode four.
Tynomi Banks was the last one to enter the workroom on episode one, but she is a force to be reckoned with.
With 13 years of drag under her cinched belt, she was one of the more experienced queens on Canada’s Drag Race. But Drag Race is a tricky mistress and tides can be turned against a queen simply by the bad luck of challenges that do not play to their strengths, like two design challenges in the first four weeks – ouch.
And with episode four, the design challenge was based around up-cycling trash into fashion garments for the runway. Team plastic "La Maison Boraga" was fantastic, team metal "The House of Rust" shun through, but team paper "Maison Papier" got torn up by the judges and Tynomi got eliminated after lip-syncing against Ilona.
Attitude spoke to Tynomi via Zoom to discuss her run on the show.
How and when did you discover drag?
I was going to university with the friend, only I knew he was gay and he only knew I was gay. We were not too out but I knew people could tell, and we were going to school in Oshawa, which is a country, farm kind of town.
And so we snuck out one night and we went to downtown Toronto and there was this club called It, we got in and all of a sudden this amazing performance started, this woman walks through these two doors, which look like the Cerebro doors from the X-Men films, it opened up, smoke flew out, and she just walked out, and she was Storm. And we were like living [for it].
The first time I did a show was 13 years ago and it was at this bar called Woody's. I had two backup dancers and I think that's the first time Woody's saw production, backup dancers and everything so it really kind of started changing the scene a little bit. Because back when I started there was a lot of impersonations drag artists and I just did my own thing.
How has tour drag evolved since you started?
Oh, I think dramatically. First of all, my makeup game, oh my gosh, I was looking rough like a bag of potatoes when I first started, because at the time there was no tutorials I just was learning from my drag mom. She did half my face and I had a copy it for a few weeks until I perfected it, but as RuPaul’s Drag Race came out and [I saw] Raven, who is amazing at make-up, really changed how I saw makeup.
And then when the Kardashians started contouring you're like, “Okay, this is now a thing.” So my makeup has gotten [much better], oh my gosh, I wish I could show you a picture from 10 years ago because I looked like a gob.
Did you have any rejected drag names before landing on Tynomi Banks?
Only one, her name was Kiki. At the time she was a little slut in a dance club. So, yeah, I changed it.
Tynomi's hair raising look from episode three
In the workroom, there has been a lot of chat about the Toronto queens being bitchy to one another. Is the drag scene very cut-throat there?
I'm not involved in the scene in that way. I don't believe in holding back drama if I have an issue with someone, you go and tell them right away because we work together, you work too closely together.
I think the new generation can sometimes could be catty, but that's why you have the older generation just being like, “Hi girl, just say it how it is.” I love that, if someone doesn't like me or something's wrong, I'd rather you just come and tell me. I think everyone loves a little bit of drama.
Did you know most of the queens when you walked into the workroom for the first time?
I worked with two of them, and the other ones I had seen around the block. Ilona and Jimbo, I did not even know them until I saw them on the show. I had met Anastarzia twice and she was just known as a pageant queen, so I was really shocked she was even there, because I didn't think she would do the show, because she's been travelling and everything. I was the last one in the workroom and the welcome I got was really loving actually.
In episode 3, we learned you were a backup dancer for guest judge Deborah Cox. Who else have you worked with?
Nelly Furtado, I perform with her a couple times in and out of drag. Same with Deborah Cox, so it was really different because you've worked with this person and now their a judge, judging your drag, but they booked you [before this] because of your drag so it's just really like… it was an interesting feeling.
When you saw Anastartia had not left a lipstick message on the mirror you had some strong language. Did you feel it was disrespectful to not leave a message?
Oh no, honestly, the way she was feeling… Anastarzia is so real. I get along with people like that she's like, “This is me to the T. Take it or leave it.” And she didn't do it to disrespect us, she said what she said on the stage to us and if you know she loves you, she loves you. So, what more was there to say in the mirror? And I like that she did that because that's the first time [it’s happened on the show].
Judge Stacey McKenzie with the Pit Crew
On episode 4, they had a 10 men pit crew and one of the first two out had a larger build and no six-pack. It was nice to see better body representation.
Absolutely. Honestly, all the guys are beautiful, even the ones without it the six-pack. I've dated so many different shapes and sizes of men and if you're more open to it then it's better. Our generation is so weird because we are taught things unconsciously and we need to get out of it. So you just have to be open and I thought it was beautiful to have all different walks of life, different shapes, sizes, different nationalities - I loved it, it was very, very good.
Tynomi's first design challenge look from the first episode
Was it a bit of a blow to have two design challenges in the first four episodes?
A bit of a blow? I'll give you the professional response. I wish I just had other challenges. When I look back at it, those are some of my great memories and I just remember creating these things and it's so funny. But the second design challenge, I don't think we should have been in the bottom at all.
What did you make of the judges' critiques for your team?
I respect the judges, but I don't agree with it. I just thought we had a story, there was a lot of fashion elements in it and it was really fun. I just didn't agree and that's probably why he got so upset. Jimbo’s ideas and everything and Ilona [too], all of us together was such an amazing group to work with. So, I would never, never choose someone else in that challenge to do this again.
Tynomi's battle weary design look after being eliminated on fourth episode
Before you lip-synced you confided to the judges that you were struggling saying you were in your own head. It was clear everyone’s opinion of you was very high, Why do you think you struggled on the show?
Being in an experience like that was, I've never been in that situation. Usually my shows or anything I do, I have time to prep and I go to the dance studio, go brainstorm with a friend and really get to work out any of the kinks. On this, you're thrown into these challenges and you think you're ready for it but it kind of just threw me a little bit. And so, for the judges I didn't want to be disrespectful to them because I knew I was taking this a little too seriously. It's just a TV show. I should have more fun, and I just got upset about that.
It must have been difficult to encourage Ilona to perform as she crying on the stage next to you.
No, it wasn't difficult at all. It felt motherly. I saw her and I just knew I had to just go over to her and be like, “Hey, it's okay, this is what we signed up for. It's fine, we're going to be friends.” And she just has such a background story that everyone could relate to. And it was the same with me with this whole Black Lives Matter movement so we were warriors, and we're going to fight and I just thought it was such an amazing lip-sync.
And who would you have portrayed on Snatch Game?
I would have done Grace Jones. I had this whole thing set up, I did all my research, it would have been funny to see it.
You have had some great partnerships with Spotify, Netflix, The Hudson Bay company. What do you hope to do post-Canada’s Drag Race?
I hope I get to do bigger things, maybe Coca-Cola? Let's get this Sprite commercial, maybe the Super Bowl, like, hello, like the sky's the limit, right?