One of the big perks of doing this show is that I get to reach out to people I admire with the flimsy excuse that I want to interview them for my podcast, and then get the opportunity to talk one-to-one with them for a few hours…
And, this week’s guest is very special. Regina Gently, who you may also know as Gentleman Reg, is a singer, songwriter and drag performer from Canada, who has worked alongside Broken Social Scene, The Hidden Cameras, and Owen Pallett. And, as Reg she even appeared in John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus.
And this is a bit of a record for Lost Spaces, as this is the third time we’ve featured The Beaver, a dive bar set up by the visionary Will Munro in Toronto’s West End that closed in 2020.
In the late 00s he was working at the bar, and it’s where he first fell in love with drag, which is where Regina comes in to the picture…
We talk all about getting in to drag relatively late in life, transitioning from indie rock to dance music, and I continue my age old tradition of discussing Celine Dion with Canadian guests…
Regina Gently 0:00
I never wanted to do drag. Other people wanted me to do drag.
K Anderson 0:05
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories I created there, and the people that they used to know. Now, one of the very big perks of doing this show is that I get to reach out to people that I admire with the flimsy excuse that I want to interview them for the podcast, and then just get the opportunity to talk one on one with them for a few hours. And this week’s guest is one such example of this Regina Gently who you may also know as her alter ego Gentleman Reg is a singer songwriter and drag performer from Canada who has worked alongside Broken Social Scene, the hidden cameras and own palette to name a few. And as read, she even appeared in John Cameron Mitchell’s film short pass. And this is a bit of a record for LA spaces as this is going to be the third time that we have featured the beaver, a dive bar set up by the visionary will Monroe in Toronto’s West End that closed in 2020. In the late noughties, Reggie was working at the bar, and it’s where he first fell in love with drag, which is where Regina comes into the picture. We took all about getting into drag relatively late in life, transitioning from indie rock to dance music, and I continue my age old tradition of discussing Celine Dion with Canadian guests.
Regina Gently 2:15
I was just doing this job to get some pay my rent so I could keep like making music. So it really was. Yeah, wasn’t my passion. I was like, Oh, this is here, I’ll just do this. It was a really weird time for me in Toronto, because those because I was doing so much that was the time that I was like, on the local on the cover of like the local free paper that we have come now. And an extra magazine like that was when I was getting most of my press as well. So then to also be waitering in the in the hippest queer as bar that had just, you know, come on the scene. Yeah, there was just a lot of like confused customers or like, people had seen me perform or, and so that added this weird element where I’m just trying to like, serve and remember their order. And then they want to talk about like, the music, the Canadian music industry, and how devastating it is. Yeah.
K Anderson 3:17
What was this anything there about your ego? Was it just about the way they interacted with? You
Regina Gently 3:23
know, for sure. It was hard for my ego as well.
K Anderson 3:26
Yeah. Imagine like, like, on the one hand, it’s like things are blowing up. This is really exciting. And then on the other. It’s not cool. Yes.
Regina Gently 3:34
Yes, exactly. I mean, I think that would be true for any artist. I mean, like that sort of cater waiter. I mean, I feel like there have been entire shows. I feel like there was a whole sitcom like just based around waiters, I can’t remember the name of it. But was it is maybe. And
K Anderson 3:59
it’s such a weird thing, isn’t it that like, especially with the music industry, and maybe other entertainment fields, because the public is so exposed to it or a facet of it. They all think that, like, if you’re like that it’s easy to make it sustainable, and that you’re a failure if you haven’t, and like they don’t really understand necessarily what the realities are. And so you’re kind of caught in this weird position of like, do I explain to them like how fucked up industry here is? Or do I just kind of let them have that weird view of me being a kind of failure? Mm hmm. And all the internalisation of that as well. Yes, yeah. Music.
Regina Gently 4:42
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And it makes you know, it just added a whole other element to you know, what I was trying to do, which was just give them their order. And, you know,
K Anderson 4:57
but did it increase tips was there a correlation between People who recognised you and the amount you’d got tipped? Um,
Regina Gently 5:03
I think it did, actually. Yeah. It’s funny you said that because I think there was like a little bit of, you know, some people felt sorry for me. This is also not, you know, this is like a small percentage of people obviously, it was not that well known, but I mean, Toronto is not really that big. And, and then the queer scene in Toronto is like, not really that big. And then the alternative cursing in Toronto is, you know, so yeah, so there were, you know, yeah, there were fair people that I think tipped me a little bit more than I deserved. For for the service skills I was providing, but
K Anderson 5:43
what do you like when people recognise you as you like, hey, yeah, let’s talk Are you like, this is really jarring and weird. Don’t talk to me, please. Um, or somewhere in between?
Regina Gently 5:52
Now, I’m just like, I’m like, I’m thankful that people recognise me now. At this age. I mean, back then. Yeah, I was I was good with it. You know, that was, it was different. I mean, do you mean, just like outside of you just any context? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that was that was much more natural. Because I was like, well, thank God, you recognise me. I’m like, you know, I’m doing all this stuff. And of course, my look as a boy, which you can see your podcast listeners, like his camp, but I have this very white look, like on the verge of all by no sort of things. So that also, I just got known for like, Grindr profile, say my hair. Yeah, yeah, exactly. For those seeking out by no pasty skin on the verge. Yeah. But I did. I mean, I actually used to do a lot of art. Like, I used to get photographed for people’s art projects and stuff because of when they wanted, like someone who looked like an albino. I would get called. And I probably did that five or six times. And then and then that’s also why I got in, I’m in the movie Shortbus, the John Cameron Mitchell film, playing an albino so it’s not, you know, this is not just in my head. It was like a real thing that I was, like, known for getting jobs for. And so and then my point is, you know, it’s just, if I’m in a crowd, like my freaking hair, just like, yes, yeah, very distinctive. Yeah. It’s like a beacon of lameness.
K Anderson 7:39
I have this weird thing. If people recognise me and approach me and want to talk to me. I’m always just like, Ah, I’m gonna be such a letdown. Oh, yeah. I don’t know what to say. Because I whatever I say is gonna be disappointing.
Regina Gently 7:54
Yes. Well, I have been disappointed by meeting people I’ve loved I will tell me. Um, well, mostly music. People that I probably shouldn’t. But I mean, he’s called though it’s not like they’re listening. Yeah, here we say. Well, yeah. Um, so back in the 90s. I was really into like this sort of grunge airy era. Like Liz Phair, whole Juliana Hatfield, like, all of that kind of stuff. And I did meet Juliana. I had seen her like, probably 10 times live. And,
K Anderson 8:33
well, you always have a front being a fanboy.
Regina Gently 8:36
Um, I don’t think I was actually. Because I was like, Yeah, I was a fanboy. But I wasn’t like the screaming like jumping in the front row. But yeah, I did meet. So I had like, a chance to open for her and itself through and I had a chance to interview her once for a paper when I was writing for like student newspapers and stuff. And sift through that. I was like, Oh, I bet I can meet her like at the show because I interviewed her. And it just, it just was the most absurd situation where I went to the show, I was living in a different city at that time. So we drove to the show with my friend, of course, was on the guest list because I’d interviewed her. And then my friend couldn’t get into the bar. They wouldn’t accept her ID for some reason. Like she was totally of age had a driver’s licence, which is like our, like our main ID here and and they wouldn’t let her in. So we were
K Anderson 9:42
just sorry. So she didn’t have the she didn’t have a driver’s licence with her. No, she did.
Regina Gently 9:47
Okay, she had it. They just thought it was fake. For some reason. It was like weird. I don’t know it was worn had been worn out. And anyways, it like this whole saga ensued, we’re like, totally defeated, we go to leave, and then Juliana’s, like walking towards the venue like with, you know, handler or manager or whatever. And, you know, so admittedly, I was like, pissed at this point. So it kind of freaked out. And I was like, oh my god, Giuliana, you have to help us. You know, and just went on this diatribe of like, I NGP view and I’m here with my friend, and we can’t get into the show. And like, we drove an hour to get here. And she’s just very shy. So I mean, this story, it’s like, it’s almost it’s like her fault. But really, she just sort of like, is like a snail going back into its shell. And she just was like, I’m sorry. I don’t know what I can do. I just, like walked into the venue. I we were both just so you know, disappointed and distraught by that. But, uh, you know, I was probably
K Anderson 11:01
I probably scared her somewhat unreasonable in your request. But see, that’s the thing. Yeah. Like, what could she have done? Other than let you down in that instance? Like, there’s so much pressure on her.
Regina Gently 11:11
Exactly. Exactly. And like, as if, you know, I mean, she doesn’t know who we are. Yeah, maybe
K Anderson 11:17
for half an hour. You should be my best friend.
Regina Gently 11:21
Yeah. And, yeah, you know, as if a band is going to fight that fight for the you know, this friend who can’t get in anyways.
K Anderson 11:35
Okay, so that was an aside. What were we talking about people people recognising you, living up to their expectations? Well, we
Regina Gently 11:42
talked about me waiter, like, you know, working at the beeper, the waiter?
K Anderson 11:46
How often did people hit on you?
Regina Gently 11:50
Oh, as a waiter? Um, I don’t think people would hit on me as a waiter. Oh,
K Anderson 11:57
that’s boring. Yeah,
Regina Gently 11:59
I know. People would hit on me and drag for sure. People would hit on Regina. But as a waiter no, I don’t think so
K Anderson 12:06
How do you feel about being hit on as Regina?
Regina Gently 12:10
Well, it was fascinating to me, because, I mean, she looks nothing like me. So it was like a whole different kind of person that was hitting on me. I’m, like, straight men would kind of like give me eyes and look at me in a way that like, I never would get looked at. Right. So yeah, so that was kind of a fascinating revelation, like, oh, some people find you know, drag queens, you know, attractive. And then I realised that it’s actually a thing, right? Like, I didn’t know that. That was like, a thing that drag queens deal with is like, you know, men hitting on them. Or this specific kind of man hitting on them. But you know, I got into it. Well, you know, depends who it is, as with anything, but the odd guy was like, Okay, you’re handsome.
K Anderson 13:03
You’re handsome? And then why? And then why fill in the blanks for me?
Regina Gently 13:07
And then, you know, sure, buy me some drinks. We can, like, let’s make out, you know, who knows? All manner of things. But yeah, it’s like, you know, it’s, I’m also a fantasy, right? That’s like, it’s not? I don’t think any, like, anything like that could lead to a relationship, or,
K Anderson 13:27
yeah, that’s the weird thing is because you’ve you’ve got this different, like, outer shell, but the core is the same. And like, like being aware of the fact that they are not interested in the inside, but Oh, God. I mean, they’re interested in separate inside bits. But you know, they’ve been really interested in who you are. Right? That’s kind of Yeah, that’s like, Yeah, as long as you kind of keep it in perspective, and kind of understand that. That’s the game you’re playing. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. With your brain quite easily, I think.
Regina Gently 14:01
I’m sure I’m sure. I think because I always kept it as me because of my like, age. I wasn’t like a 19 year olds, you know, drag queen being like swept off my feet. It was more just like, oh, free drinks. Okay. Yeah. Yes, I’ll have another Yes. I have a double actually. You know, I could play you know, with them as much as they can play with.
K Anderson 14:28
Yeah. That’s extending the performance. You are a performer.
Regina Gently 14:32
Yes. Yes, exactly.
K Anderson 14:35
So let’s talk about your first time and drag. Mm hmm. What like when abouts was this?
Regina Gently 14:44
Well, it’s been it’s been 10 years actually. Is it? 10 years 20. I think it was 2011 was my first time and drag.
K Anderson 14:57
And so what was the inspiration? Like, what? What made you want to try it?
Regina Gently 15:03
Um, well, that’s the crazy thing. I mean, so I’m old. I’m very old. So I’m now I’m 45. Okay, so the first time I did drag, like, let’s just go back. That’s not very old. Okay? It’s not. But my point was when I first did drag I was 35. Which like, that’s, it’s kind of. Yeah, exactly. You know, considering, you know, most people are like, in their early 20s.
K Anderson 15:30
Do we think that because of the, like, the current climate? Or has it always been the case that people got into drag very young? Um,
Regina Gently 15:37
I think it’s always been the case. Okay. I think it’s younger, for sure. Now, like, even younger, but yeah, I feel like it was always like, a youth thing, or Yeah,
K Anderson 15:51
it’s usually a cool thing.
Regina Gently 15:53
Well, that’s what made it so unusual is like, 10 to your other questions. I didn’t really I never wanted to do drag. Other people wanted me to do drag.
K Anderson 16:06
What do you mean? Like,
yeah, well, Will Monroe, like who, you know, started the beaver. He always thought I should do drag, um, because I was a singer. And he just thought, like, you know, you will do drag, but you’ll sing live. And there. You know, there have never been that many drag queens doing that. So he just thought, and that’s the kind of person he was right. Like, he was like the visionary. And I just thought, at the time, when you know, 2008 Nine, like, I was like, full indie rock singer, songwriter mode. And I was like, Well, why would I do that? Like I’m doing this? It just didn’t, I just didn’t see it. For me. Even though I would go to those parties, and have a great time. And new or new that scene I just didn’t see. And there’s
K Anderson 16:53
kind of a snobbery isn’t there, like in the like, I’m a serious? Sorry, this is not like me saying you are a total snob. But there’s like a scene of like, I’m a serious singer, songwriter. I’m like, you know, all about the music. It’s very easy to denigrate, and look down your nose at drag as an art form. And anyone who makes music,
Regina Gently 17:16
for sure. Absolutely. And especially back then, I mean, now it’s so mainstream, and you have these crazy, successful drag performers. But back then, even 1012 years. I mean, it wasn’t, it wasn’t at all like that, you know, it was great. And you still had great performers. But you know, no, not really. Many people were like, Oh, I’m gonna get into drag because there’s tonnes of money in, you know, in that art form. It wasn’t really like that. It was like, you just kind of did it because you were crazy, or it’s what you wanted to do, or but it wasn’t really like a career choice back then. I mean, I don’t know. It wasn’t certainly wasn’t for me, or in my world. And so but then, yeah, and then there was so will, was one and then there was Do other people saying the same thing. And then eventually, hot nuts just asked me to perform at their party. And I said, Yes. And they said, you have to do to drag and I said, okay, and then I had about a month from when they asked me to the show to come up with a look had an act and
K Anderson 18:28
how much did you flip flop in that month?
Regina Gently 18:32
Um, I committed? I was never gonna like back out.
K Anderson 18:35
Okay, so you would never like, should I be doing this? What am I doing?
Regina Gently 18:39
No, no, I was like, Oh, what am I going to do? Like, if I’m going to do this? It has to be good. You know? So what was your
K Anderson 18:45
approach then to? Yeah, to creating the character? What do you call terrorists? She you?
Regina Gently 18:52
Yeah, it’s a bit of a persona. It’s a bit of just me. It’s for a long time, I was referring it to like real girl drag. Because it’s less sort of Camp influenced and more sort of influence from my musical influences, right. Like Debbie Harry and Cyndi Lauper. Like any Linux, like that’s that kind of stuff is what influences my drag more than, than anything else. I’ve lost my train of thought,
K Anderson 19:25
though. First, Oh, yeah. This this month. So you said oh, yeah, no, I’m doing this. And then like, what was the process of putting it all together?
Regina Gently 19:33
Yeah. And so this woman, Margot Keith, who’s still a good friend today, she was a biological female, who did drag did female drag, which is more and more common now. But at the time, it wasn’t, and she was a makeup artist as well. So she did a lot of people’s makeup. So she Yeah, so the hotness people were like, Okay, you’re going to do this thing. We’re gonna I call you Regina the gentle lady. Because my own band was called gentleman red.
K Anderson 20:04
Do you know why I am so stupid? I only just got that. I only just made that. Oh, yeah. Okay, gently but you’ve just answered that. Okay. That’s my stupidity carry on.
Regina Gently 20:17
Well, you and everyone else. I thought it was obvious, but apparently not.
K Anderson 20:23
Oh, but hang on. Sorry. So you didn’t even come up with your own name. You just got it foisted upon you. Yeah. Oh, that’s sad.
Regina Gently 20:31
I know. Well, I have I have since changed it to Regina gently. But yes, originally, it was the gentle lady. So for many years, it was Regina, the gentle lady, and, and then Margo came up with my look. So she styled me and did my makeup. And, you know, because I didn’t know, like I said, I was 35 I didn’t know anything about makeup. At that time. I didn’t know what to do. Yeah, so I just focused on the performance and the songs I was going to do and being able to sing live. And, you know, I focused on that element, which is what I knew, and then got these other people to sort of be focused on the rest. And then after the performance, you know, it’s, it was clear that I had sort of hit. I had struck a, you know, a nerve in myself and nerving like everyone else who knew me. And from there, I just kept doing it. And then I was doing both so there was like a big period where I was still doing indie rock singer songwriter. And then I started making dance music under another name light fires, and I was doing light fires as this drag persona Regina, which is just too many let familiaris for people and never caught on.
K Anderson 21:56
So like this initial like period of performance. Were you doing gentlemen wrench song. So were you doing like other covers or originals?
Regina Gently 22:06
Well, the very first performance as Regina I did a Bjork song acapella. And then I did dancing on my own by Robin. Because of course, I sang live and it which is hard to believe that that how old that song is. But that song when I did it, it had just come out, like the week that week. So it was like fresh, you know, people were seeing this new Robins
K Anderson 22:33
like some kind of humblebrag of like I was saying at the beginning?
Regina Gently 22:38
Well, I don’t know. I just think it’s when I say if I didn’t tell you that it was 10 years ago, and I said I did dancing my own you would probably not. I don’t know. I don’t feel like people, like realise how long that song is out? Or I’m sorry, or whatever. I’m sorry. Yeah, no, it’s fine. But you know, it just fit in with, you know, I really had to that was the whole thing, right? I wanted to sing live. But I also didn’t want to do like a Gaga song or something that you would see on Church Street. And at that time, you certainly wouldn’t have seen Robin even. I mean, you would now but then I was like, Ooh, Bjork. That makes sense. And like Robin, that makes sense. So it was just like, all of those things. And yeah, the first few things I did, covers, and then I quickly because I already had this band, like fires, like I was already making this dance music. And then I just thought, oh, Regina will front light fires. And then from then on, I just started doing those songs. Yeah, so I already had all this dance music that was just waiting. It’s just this weird lineup of things,
K Anderson 23:51
too, because you have this support. And this helps in terms of like developing the aesthetic and doing the makeup. Does that mean you didn’t have like, a long period of being busted like that? Is every drag queens like riot passage?
Regina Gently 24:03
Um, no, I was pretty busted. Yeah, cuz the first year I had like, one wig. You know what I mean? And I had, you know, because I had nothing to
K Anderson 24:15
do with wigs. You’re not supposed to wash them. Are you? Like how do you clean them?
Regina Gently 24:20
You can wash them, okay. I mean, it’s well, for sure if they’re real hair, you can wash them but even synthetic. You know if it’s not a crazy cheap one. No, you wash them. But you’re supposed to what what I’ve been told is you’re supposed to condition them. Like you put conditioner in them and it actually helps them but but yeah, no, this, you know, I had this one outfit, and this one wig for like, my first bunch of performances. And it took quite some time for me to realise like, you know how to shot like I just didn’t know how to say because was the feminine? Was that like
K Anderson 24:57
a cardinal sin on the scene or did people forget Have it, in fact that you’re the same thing over and over.
Regina Gently 25:03
Um, no people were forgiving for sure. Because like, I remember I was singing live, and then I was doing original music too. So that was kind of my, you know, pass. I was like, wow, you’re not getting the greatest outfit or makeup. But wait till I say there’s no other queens in Toronto writing their own goddamn music. So, um, so
K Anderson 25:23
what was that like that, that journey of figuring out all the stuff like shopping and like talking and stuff? Did you just kind of embrace that? Or were you like, Oh, I’m a bit embarrassed because of my
Regina Gently 25:37
a little bit. A little bit of both. Yeah, I sort of embraced it because I had to. I had a lot of support back then. So Margo, but then also David Hall, this other makeup artist, and people were really wanted to help me back down. So it was very thankful in terms of that, like, people just started giving me wigs or giving me like, oh, I have this old thing, you know, and then I just get started collecting stuff very slowly and figuring it out. And you know, and then eventually, like, maybe five years later, I actually went to makeup school, just as I thought like, oh, maybe that will be maybe I can do that as a job. And I’ll also learn a lot more about makeup. And so yeah, so my skills got got up. And But even now, you know, I’m not a look queen, let’s say, you know, I went I’m not known for my, you know, makeup looks.
Regina Gently 26:39
It’s certainly improved from day one. But again, it’s that’s never been. You know, I’m not trying to be famous on Instagram, you know? Yeah, yeah. Even though I’d like some of those.
K Anderson 26:55
So then, let’s go back to that first performance at like, after doing it, you’ve got a good reception. But like, what were your thoughts before going on? What were your thoughts when you were on stage? Like, how did that all feel?
Regina Gently 27:08
Um, I mean, it was the thing with the beaver is, it was not, never had good sound. And it was certainly not meant for live singing or, you know, music. So it wasn’t like a venue with a stage. You know, we just sort of turned the upper floor into the stage. And, but the speakers were pointing towards the stage, which is like, yeah, not what they’re supposed to be going the other way towards the audience. Which, you know, that fucks up the microphone and, and but then there would be a bit of a performance in the round by if it was really packed. Because so they’re actually during my thing that were people like all behind me. In the back hallway, like it was like a pretty crazy packed party. So yeah, I was thinking about, Okay, first time walking in high heels. They were way too small. Might be we’re killing. Like, can I eat? You know, am I gonna fall I was thinking about how do I not feed back with this mic when I’m singing like, I did the Bjork song acapella. Because I thought like, Oh, it’ll be really dramatic, it will just be like, acapella thing, and then I’ll bust into dancing on my own. And so that’s the kind of stuff I was thinking of, really. And, and then just peep, you know, all these people that had known me for 10 years. Like indie rock seeing me, you know, as this female persona, it was just, yeah, the whole it was just like a really fun moment. And
K Anderson 28:45
we talked about, like, overcoming some of that. snobbery that comes from being part of a different scene. Was that something that was ongoing? Or like when you were in it? Were you just like, Yeah, okay, this is what I’m doing? Or was there any kind of residual concerns or worries about your peers in in the music scene? Looking down on what you were doing?
Regina Gently 29:14
Yes, and no, it was more the thing that really got me is that people were just so confused. So people couldn’t get that I you know, was like still being a singer songwriter but then I also had started this female persona and so like yeah, so that and you know, like you said, like my, my singer songwriter was called gentlemen, Raj. And then this is Regina, the gentle lady. So like, they’re the names are connected. My name is Raj, as a boy. So it’s like, all of it’s very connected via the name and stuff, but people still couldn’t figure out like, oh, that you’re still doing that and then this is something else. And yeah, I mean, for sure the indie rock people were like, oh, what? What are you doing? You’re dressing as a woman and, and, and the style. Like I said, I sort of had this real girl drag style. So it was like sort of, you know, wasn’t Priscilla Queen of the Desert drag it was like, it was like me as like a young jet sort of just with like jeans, you know, and like
K Anderson 30:29
jeans. I didn’t know much about drag, but I know that’s not allowed. Surely.
Regina Gently 30:35
I know. Well, you should see Regina in some jean shorts. She can rock.
K Anderson 30:41
Okay, all right. Carry on.
Regina Gently 30:43
Yeah, her leg? You know, she’s her legs. down her? Well, yeah, so that was the biggest hurdle really was figuring out or other people figuring out what I’m doing. But I didn’t really care. Like, I didn’t think like, oh, people aren’t going to take this seriously, or, at the end of the day, it was kind of like a different. It was like a different crew that was into one and then a different crew that was into the other and some crossover, of course. But you know, just because somebody liked me as a singer, songwriter, they’re not necessarily going to like me as a woman writing Absolutely. Right. Like, it’s
K Anderson 31:22
also this kind of entitlement that a lot of fans have. And like, I just wonder if that played on your mind at all. If you were thinking about those people who feel as though they like feel as though you shouldn’t change because of who you’re presented in as your own. Right? And, like, not wanting to disappoint them, right. And though they shouldn’t be entitled in the first place, and that whole spiral?
Regina Gently 31:45
Yeah, no, I didn’t think about that. I mean, to be fair, like, I don’t think either of my personas got well known enough to sort of warrant that kind of like, betrayal, feeling and betrayal in a fan. You know, what I mean? And, and, and totally honest, like, so many people don’t even know. You know, like, I get messages all the time on my gentlemen Ridge, socials, like, you know, like, what are you up to these days? Or, like, do you still make music, you know, like, so there’s like, a whole sector of people that, like, have no idea that I that I do.
K Anderson 32:27
And, and so then like to coming to the scene being this new, old queen, I shouldn’t. Sorry, you know, where I’m going, right? Like, what was that like in Toronto? Especially because at this point, like drag race hadn’t, like exploded, and it was a thing, but it wasn’t like a phenomenon. What was it like kind of negotiating the scene?
Regina Gently 32:51
Yeah, no drag race. Season One had just aired, like, that’s how that’s when I started. And, you know, had nothing to do with drag race, but yeah, no, so and that season? Yeah. Like, like you said, like, it was, some people watched it, but it was not like anything. Like it is now. Um, no, it was great. I mean, it took a long time for me to go to Church Street, which is our like, Gay Village. So for the longest time, yeah, I just performed it the beaver. I performed at the hen house, which was a more lesbian themed Western gay bar. Some of the boutique hotels like the Gladstone was doing queer nights in the West End. Yeah, like it sort of started. There. Were just things doing queer nights. And then And then because I had this original dance music, and I sort of had my music base, like doing new rock. I started getting shows. So I started opening for like, Peaches. Big Freeda, Hercules And the love affair. Queer, you know, queer dance artists who would come to town like I got a lot of opening gigs. Austra diamond rings, like, it was really good for a period i i You know, I did some new shows in New York. I toured in Europe a bit. So it was a kind of exciting time. Like the first few years even though my drag was like, not fancy by any means was getting I sort of like went into the the world of electronic, like queer artists more than Dr. Yeah. And then and then at a certain point, I was like, oh, I want to explore the village and I would do some shows over there. But um,
K Anderson 34:40
okay, that was gonna be my follow up question like, Did you did you have a certain snobbery about the village?
Regina Gently 34:46
Well, in the sense that I didn’t really hang out there, you know, and no one knew me there. And when I started when I did perform there, I really had to invite friends to come like to support me the odd person would like, like, Oh my God, thank you for singing live. And then, you know, most of the bar would just be like, what?
K Anderson 35:08
What’s happening? What’s going on?
Regina Gently 35:12
Yeah, so I stopped that quite quickly. But then also around that time I started DJing as Regina. So I did. So that kind of, I kind of got into the village more as a DJ, like a in drag. But I did, but I don’t perform there at all really? And it’s fine, because it’s not what they want.
K Anderson 35:36
That’s a lot of effort to spend records, isn’t it putting on like, a whole bunch of makeup and a dress? Or jean shorts?
Regina Gently 35:44
It certainly is. Yes, it’s insane. And I don’t remember, I don’t recommend anyone ever do it?
K Anderson 35:51
How did you get better at walking in the shoes?
Regina Gently 35:55
Um, well, the first pair of heels, they were just too damn small. They were too tight. They were plastic. And they were just too small, like, my feet hurt within five minutes of having them on. So yeah, then you learn like, you know, you just have to buy bigger shoes, open toe or an open toes knife. And I don’t know, I just really took two I took to it. And then my persona was pretty like at least a leash. Initially. The music was more sort of electro based and Regina was pretty intense. And, and I would like jump on things like I was sort of known for like, I would climb on the bar, you know, and I would dance on the bar, and I would if there was anything I could grab on to I would climb on it. And I would stand on stools. And I would like in high heels and then that sort of became like, oh my god, like, you know, is she gonna fall like,
K Anderson 36:58
and so the question is, did you ever fall?
Regina Gently 37:01
Did I ever fall? Not from a stool? Um, you know what the most dramatic thing, actually, and this was at the beaver was, I used to climb on the bar, like I said, and this one performance. The Beaver had installed ceiling fans. And I didn’t they were never there when I worked there. And suddenly there were ceiling fans. And I jumped up on the bar and I stood up and I got hit in the head with this spinning ceiling fan, and I kid you not like I think my wig because it had long bangs like kind of saved my head because from decapitation. Yeah, yeah, exactly. But that was like, That, I think has to be the most dramatic thing because like everyone was like, freaking out like, because it was you know, you’re just like, oh my god, is that top of my head gonna be sliced off. But say
K Anderson 38:07
like, so you stood up and hit you and then like, so you didn’t get like you didn’t fall back or anything? Just like
Regina Gently 38:13
I didn’t fall? Yeah, I mean, I guess it wasn’t the strongest. Wasn’t a high powered. No, come
K Anderson 38:20
on. You can machinery some of the details. It’s fine.
Regina Gently 38:23
It did. It did cut my head. I did. I was like, you know, it was like, a trickle of blood was streaming down the floor of my head. So I was cut. There was an injury. But I didn’t fall back
K Anderson 38:36
Adds to your kudos as an artist, doesn’t it? Yeah. Yeah, I
Regina Gently 38:40
was pretty. I mean, I wish someone cuts out a video but um, yeah, I can’t think of a fall though. Which is crazy. You know, knock on wood, I guess because I really, I also was kind of got known for doing high kicks. Like, I wasn’t a dancer, like I can’t do the split or death drops but I can do high kicks and so that sort of became my like thing and then doing them if
K Anderson 39:05
you did that in the middle of an acapella Bjork number then
Regina Gently 39:08
no, that didn’t come that didn’t come to later that wasn’t performance number one. That was a little bit later I discovered I could high tech and a high heel and
K Anderson 39:19
but did you do that thing that like did that their queens on drag race do where it’s just like, this has no place in this song, but I want to show off the fact that I can do it or were you a bit more like understated in your decision making?
Regina Gently 39:32
Well, I was doing my own music, right. So it was sort of like I’m just doing my thing in my music. It’s not like I would never do like a Celine Dion ballad. You know what I mean?
K Anderson 39:45
Okay, well, I just have to like stop you there. Every single person I speak to you from Canada brings up Celine Dion. Oh, really? What is about?
Regina Gently 39:54
Yeah, I mean, do you guys know her in the UK? Oh, yeah,
K Anderson 39:57
yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Okay, guys. Okay. Is she like a subject at school or?
Regina Gently 40:04
Yeah, yeah, university course. Um, she has. She’s just this crazy Quebecois phenomenon. You know, she’s friends. She’s from Quebec. Um, she’s been around from the 80s. She dated her manager who was so much older like, it’s like a weird, it’s like a crazy thing. And now she’s like, a fashion icon like, I don’t know, there’s just so much to her. And she has this incredible voice. I mean, I can’t say I listened to her. But when I DJ people will sometimes request her. What they request her. Yeah, because there’s all these dance. You know, there’s all these like dance. Oh, okay. Yes, remix. Yes, exactly.
K Anderson 40:52
So what’s your favourite Celine Dion song? Ah, oh, I will be judging you based on your
Regina Gently 40:59
I can’t say have a favourite on like,
K Anderson 41:02
you have to have like,
Regina Gently 41:04
you have to have one. I mean, do you? Yes,
K Anderson 41:07
of course you do. Yes. Oh, well, actually.
Regina Gently 41:11
Oh, wow. Okay, I need to know what they are.
K Anderson 41:15
There are no so you’re just saying like point blank. You don’t have like a go to Celine Dion. So?
Regina Gently 41:21
Yeah, I’m not a fan. Sadly. Sorry. Well, I’m
K Anderson 41:25
not a fan either. As a Canadian admire some of her work and think twice is amazing. Okay. You don’t know what that is to you?
Regina Gently 41:34
I don’t know not by name.
K Anderson 41:37
Okay, and it’s all coming back to me now is ridiculously amazing, right? No, I’m not selling you on any of this. You don’t you don’t give a shit to you?
Regina Gently 41:48
Yeah, no, that’s a classic. Um, for sure. But something I also deejay weddings sometimes. And that’s like a classic, you know, wedding? DJ sort of
K Anderson 41:58
number that, you know, that is a punch in the sky. Yeah. Like, yeah, you know, that’s incredible. Anyway, so I’m not going to keep talking about something. So beaver kind of continued to be like your home in terms of Regina.
Regina Gently 42:15
Mm hmm. Yes. So while I was working there, I worked there for six years. And then I stopped in 20 End of 2011 2012. I did this big tour of Europe in the end of 2011. And that was kind of like the final tour. The owners were like, okay, like we need, you know, it was there was weird management. At that point. There was like these weird managers and didn’t really know me. And, and anyways, they were like, Yeah, you can go on this tour. But like, we kind of need some ones do your shifts, like consistently so? So that was how it ended? And then, but then it like, yeah, I kept performing their DJing they’re hanging out there. Like it stayed in my life for quite a while.
K Anderson 43:05
What was your favourite thing about the audience? It’s there?
Regina Gently 43:09
Well, I mean, there were so few places to go like that, that it brought all the, you know, the fun queer art, fags and, and it was a very mixed spot. You know, a lot of people think it was a lesbian bar, because it was called the beaver. But it was still very much a queer bar. And it was also, you know, when we would have brunch, it was like families or whoever, when I was going for brunch, like, it was sort of, like, all things. And that’s very unusual least in Toronto, like the, you know, the gay bars that are in the village or gay bars, you know, like, straight bars. There’s very few queer bars like that. And
K Anderson 43:58
and so when you heard about the beaver closing, what, what did that stare out for you?
Regina Gently 44:06
Um, on the one hand, I was not surprised. On the other hand, I figured, so I hadn’t really been going there much in the last like, I don’t know, at least five plus years. Doing the odd DJ gig there. So it wasn’t a big part of my life anymore. But you know, but it always was at the same time. So when it closed? Yeah, it was not surprised. So the building the whole like block that the beaver is on had been has been sold right to a developer. So I knew it was just a matter of time. I think there was like a five year thing where it was gonna all be torn down. So it was still there. And it was actually doing really well as a bar. But I knew that someday. Like I knew the building had actually been sold. But they were just keeping the venue open. So it was sort of just like, oh, this is just happening sooner than we thought it was going to, you know, there was talk of somebody buying it. And the relate these hints of, you know, there were all these, like kids doing parties there. So there were all these fun, queer parties have young kids, and once in a while, they would ask me to DJ, so I sort of did have some, like, I was seeing this, like, new gen thing. And like, at first that it first it was like, it took me a while to adjust, you know, like, oh, who are these? You know, people and then you’re like, Oh, right. They’re the ones going there now, all the time. You know, I don’t go there all the time anymore. So, and then they started asking me to DJ the time for their parties. And I realised like, Oh, they’re actually doing like, interesting things here. And, and, you know, it’s funny being like, older and realising, like, oh, they don’t even like a lot of them. Most of them don’t even know. Like, they don’t even know Willman row. They don’t even know hotness. They don’t even know like, like, they kind of think they’re like the first people to do this or something.
K Anderson 46:09
Oh, can we just talk about that quickly? Yeah, so fascinating. The thing that keeps, like making me go like, what’s going on? Is when people talk about, like, when fully grown adults are like, Yeah, I’ve loved Lady Gaga since I was a kid. And she’s been such an inspiration to me. And she’s like, taught me so much about myself. And I’m like, What do you mean? Like Lady Gaga has been around for like, three years? What are you talking about? Like realising like, oh shit to their eye, like people who like don’t remember a world before Lady Gaga? Just like you don’t remember. What Celine Dion.
Regina Gently 46:44
Exactly, exactly. Or Madonna? Like when the kids don’t really know Madonna?
K Anderson 46:48
Yeah, yeah. You just kind of like, how did that escape you? If you’ve not seen her?
Regina Gently 46:55
And that’s the thing. If they don’t know if kids don’t know, Madonna, like, they certainly don’t know, like, who the the local Toronto queens were from 10 years ago?
K Anderson 47:03
Well, I don’t see why they shouldn’t.
Regina Gently 47:05
Yeah, I mean, luckily, you know, at least in that scene, those are the kind of people that actually would fight wanna find out about the history, you know, I feel like in the mainstream, like, on our Church Street, like, that scene really, really doesn’t care about like that street, at least in this scene, like people are more like, you know, at least some of them want to know that kind of stuff.
K Anderson 47:31
And it is fascinating having that perspective, when you are a young person in like thinking that your generation is the one that is like doing all of these things. Not recognising that it’s happened before. And then before that happened, and that happened. And when you kind of get to a point where you’re right. Oh, shit, oh, yeah, we’re really reductive.
Regina Gently 47:50
Right? Well, and even me, like, you know, I was not the first drag queen to sing their own music. You know, it certainly wasn’t common. In Toronto, that’s for sure. But I mean, there were many, you know, many people have done it before. But I yeah, I never pretended like I was.
K Anderson 48:14
And so then if you think back on what that venue has meant in your life, what, what did it teach you about yourself?
Regina Gently 48:27
Um, gosh, it taught me it really like I really came into myself, I think via that bar. I mean, I would say that’s true of the, the parties will was doing before like Vaseline, I think that’s where that’s where I started to. To know, the queer alternative scene in Toronto was through Vaseline. And and that’s where I really came out of my shell as well. And that’s around when I joined the hidden cameras. And, and so you know, that that was a monthly so that was once a month, right? And it was this huge deal, but it was monthly, and the beaver was open seven days a week. So suddenly, you know, there was this, you could do that kind of stuff. Every day, you could be that person every day you could, you know, have those parties every night of the week kind of thing.
K Anderson 49:28
Do you have any memories of the beaver or clubbing from your own cuisine that you want to share? Well, if you do, please get in touch. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories about nightlife. Go to La spaces podcast.com and find this section, share a lost space and tell me all about what you got up to. And if you want to hear more about the beaver, check out the episodes With prawn waters and Casey Mecija, which you can find in your podcast player. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as lost spaces called. Find out more about Regina on Instagram, Twitter and Twitch, her user profile is Regina gently on all three. So convenient. Law spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues, and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the next year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on your podcast platform or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little person to. I am Gary Anderson, and you’ve been listening to lost spaces