by Christopher Rudolph
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR CANADA’S DRAG RACE
Tynomi Banks was one of the most popular queens going into Canada’s Drag Race. The legendary Toronto-based queen even counted fans among her sisters on the show, as well as judge Brooke Lynn Hytes. After lip-syncing for her life two weeks in a row, sending both Kyne and Anastarzia Anaquway packing, Tynomi’s inner saboteur got the best of her. Moments after fighting back tears after the judges’ critiques, Tynomi found herself in the bottom two once again, this time against her friend Ilona Verley, who ultimately won the lip sync.
Tynomi spoke with NewNowNext about her time on the show, how her inner saboteur got the best of her, and why she thinks Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater” would make a killer lip sync.
What was it like when you got the call to be on the show?
Oh my God. It’s so funny because I was filming a project with someone that was about living your truth. So I’m in full makeup, and then all of a sudden I get a call and they’re like, “Hello, this is confidential. Go find somewhere to take it.” And like, “What the hell is this?” I’m actually in drag in the middle of the day. I went into the alleyway and I got the news, and truly everything happened. Emotions, everything, but I had to keep it together because it’s a confidential call and 20 minutes later I’m back on set, and everyone’s like, “Are you okay?” I’m like, “Yeah, sorry, my mom, something happened.” I literally was dying.
With the Toronto girls, I felt like it was similar to when New York City girls go on Drag Race. The expectations are so high because people know how good they are in real life. Do you think that’s a fair comparison?
I don’t know. I feel like we just had to show the world that we as a whole, Canada’s here and just as good as them. So I think we just had a different mentality level going into it.
Can you talk about what was going through your head when you started getting emotional on the runway? People make fun of RuPaul for talking about the inner saboteur all the time, but it’s real.
No, it’s very real. When I go through emotions and things frustrate me, I do that in the privacy of my home, not with my friends. And so, it was actually a beautiful thing. It’s not seen as a weakness. It’s showing that I’m human and I have self-doubt. I need a pick-me-up sometimes. I need love and support. I can’t just do that all by myself. And I just wanted people to see that and relate to that and know that they’re not alone in these kinds of situations. Being on the show like that, it’s really scary and it’s a big deal for me. I took it very seriously, maybe a little too seriously. I felt the pressure from my peers, the girls on the show, and the judges due to my resume beforehand, and I wish I just didn’t care about that and had more fun going into it. And honestly, I had fun, so let’s make that clear. I had the best time ever, but then when it came to certain moments, as you’ve seen at the show, certain challenges, I strongly disagreed with the judges.
— Canada’s Drag Race (@canadasdragrace) July 24, 2020
What was the hardest challenge for you?
The challenges where you had to make garments. I don’t make my things. I would go out or I’m inspired by things, so I have people make clothes for me. I took a few lessons, and it’s actually amazing. I’m like, “Oh my God.” I felt great about it. But being put in that situation and given a certain time to do things. You really feel the stress of it.
Yeah, I’m sure. When I talked to Kyne and Anastarzia, they told me that they knew they were going home before the lip sync. Did you feel that way?
No. I always have hope because anything could happen, especially on TV. In that situation, it was so emotional. I don’t think that ever really happens. There are emotional times on Drag Race, you see it all the time. But in that way, I was going through it and I didn’t agree. And that’s where my emotions came from. I was like, “No.” We even had a story. There was definitely something here—a passion, and to be told, “No, it sucked.” I literally was pissed. I was like, “Oh my gosh. Not again.” I thought I looked so beautiful. I thought I looked like a Wakandan warrior. I was frustrated. I was like, “Oh my gosh, why is it not happening for me?”
Ilona got really emotional before the lip sync too. Did you think that maybe she wasn’t going to go through with it?
Oh yeah. She’s that girl. She’s just super passionate. It’s not that the fact she’s a bitch; she’s just super passionate about her people, her story. So we were able to bond really quickly in the show, and I think she’s a really kind and giving person. And so I felt like she didn’t want to dance against me. And you could see it was literally a battle. Our costumes were flying off all over the place. So, we gave it to them. And we won in that way. We literally pierced that moment.
When you first walked into that workroom for the first time, who were you the most gagged to see?
It’s weird. I had a few people. BOA—I didn’t even think she wanted to do anything like that. I was like, “BOA? What are you doing here?” And then Anastarzia, because she doesn’t work the village scene. She used to travel the world, and there’s all these big contests and everything. She’s a pageant queen, so I didn’t think she would do the show.
After you left Drag Race, did you take a break from drag, or did you just get back out on the stage?
Oh, what did I do? I did perform. It was a little strange, though. I think it took about two weeks off and just like chilled out and ate a lot of food, cleared my mind. And then I went to performing again.
What was it like recording with Ralph? I’m such a big fan of hers.
Oh my God. She’s amazing. You walk in that room, and there she was. I was singing her song, “Gravity.” It was just really good. I learned from it. Because you have your idea of how you want to sing, but then she was there and she’d be like, “Oh, do it like this. Why don’t you put this attitude in there?” Just these suggestions really helped the tone and how you want your music to sound.
I saw your Instagram video with Orville Peck. Are you a fan of his?
Oh my God. Yes. I became a fan. He’s just so mysterious. And he’s so nice. And he loves drag. He’s just super nice and beautiful.
What celebrity would you love to see on Canada’s Drag Race?
I think it would have been cool to see Nelly Furtado. To do one of her songs, like “Maneater,” on the show.
What piece of advice would you give a queen who wants to be on Canada’s Drag Race?
I’d just tell them, “Remember, it’s a TV show, and be open and have fun. It’s not serious at all. It’s just TV.” I think RuPaul even said, “Remember, it’s just TV.” And she’s very right.
Did you meet RuPaul when he did Toronto Pride?
One of them, yeah. I think it was WorldPride. She came to speak at it. She spoke, and I said hi, but I had to do a concert right afterward. I literally had to go out with eight backup dancers and perform a show.
Yeah. That’s the life.
I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was “just the cutest thing ever.”