By Paula E. Kirman
(AJNews) – On December 3, around 40 people came to Arcadia Brewing Co. at Manchester Square to experience what was likely Edmonton’s first Jewish-themed drag show.
8 Hot Nights of Chanukah was organized by the Jewish Federation of Edmonton’s Pride Committee, and featured four drag performers presenting over-the-top outfits and dance moves. The free event for those 16 and older saw audience members of diverse age demographics from youths to seniors express their enthusiastic appreciation with applause, cheers, laughter, and tipping the performers.
Ashley Kravetsky, who goes by the drag name Selena Cuchina, is one of three Jewish drag performers in Alberta. The other two were scheduled to appear at 8 Hot Nights of Chanukah, but had to cancel due to illness. Instead, several other talented drag performers took to the stage, including Cassie Collis (drag name: Colin Bae), Kravetsky’s real-life partner. Together, they performed a humour-infused musical number about navigating the holidays as an interfaith couple.
Kravetsky has been doing drag for about five years and hosts a drag event at Arcadia on a regular basis called “Beers & Queers.” “Our queer community is small. Our queer Jewish community is even smaller and to get to bring that together and to celebrate with all of you just makes me feel so happy,” she said in appreciation to the audience for supporting the event.
In addition, Kravetsky is involved with Federation’s Pride Committee which also organizes the annual Pride Shabbat. “We need to have that intersection [between being queer and Jewish]. We need to have that voice and we need to have that support for those of us who maybe aren’t really able to,” she said, emphasizing the importance of visible representation through events such as 8 Hot Nights of Chanukah.
“Especially in the climate right now people are afraid to be Jewish, people are afraid to be queer, and people are afraid to speak out. We need to have a following and a support system and people who love and care about us because right now we are not feeling that, especially in the queer community.”
Paula Kirman is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.