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Rez Daddy take on ‘pandemic blues’ as part of South Okanagan Similkameen Pride

Madeline Terbasket, aka Rez Daddy, is a Syilx, Ho-chunk and Anishinaabe performer who uses burlesque and drag to safely express their sexuality as a Two-Spirit person. Courtesy: Madeline Terbasket/Submitted

In these times of heaviness and grief, Madeline Terbasket, who is also known by their drag name, Rez Daddy, plans to bring good medicine in an upcoming drag and burlesque show.

Organized by the South Okanagan Similkameen Pride Society (SOSPS) as part of Pride month, Swallow Your Pride is an Indigiqueer, Two-Spirit burlesque and drag show for folks over 18.

The event is scheduled to take place via Zoom on June 16 at 7 p.m.

“We wanted to do the Swallow Your Pride event because it’s also National Indigenous History month, so we wanted it to be a Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer event and I’m just so excited for the line-up,” Rez Daddy tells IndigiNews over the phone.

Read more: Hundreds show up as Kelowna Pride Parade parties through downtown

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“I was not sure about promoting it because everyone is in mourning,” they say. “But I think love and laughter is really healing for people and I still think we should celebrate Pride month because it’s really important.”

The event’s line-up features five Indigiqueer and Two-Spirit kin: “Lynx Chase, Eddi Licious, Stone E. Rivers, Rosé Parks, Lou Lou la Duchesse de Riére, and myself,” says Rez Daddy.

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After falling in love with the art as a youth, Rez Daddy says they first got into burlesque in 2017,  through the Screaming Chicken Theatrical Society in the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ / sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

They went on tour shortly after completing the program, performing in burlesque shows throughout many territories. Then, in 2020 just before COVID-19 swept the globe, they released their drag identity “Rez Daddy” to the world.

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Read more: Kelowna’s Pride Week approaching amid pandemic

Ever since they’ve been utilizing both drag and burlesque to express themselves.

Madeline Terbasket performs at the Isle of Tease Burlesque Festival. Photo by MKM Photography, submitted by Madeline Terbasket

“My signature [burlesque] act is ‘Water Spirit’s Retribution’ and it’s about what water would do to you after taking it for granted for so long,” they say.
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As for their drag performance, they embody their inner Rez Daddy.

“A lot of people still clock me as female all the time, so [Rez Daddy] helps me express my masculine side, and to feel that power and energy,” says the self-described “sensation from the Syilx Nation.”
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Rez Daddy says reclaiming their sexuality through the art of drag and burlesque has been a beautiful way to connect with themselves and raise their confidence, as well as take back what’s been taken.

“I am so much more in touch with my body and that makes me so much more in touch with the land because I’m part of the land and all of creation,” says Rez Daddy, who also goes by the name “Mother Girth.”

Read more: Kelowna RCMP pauses ‘safe place’ program following feedback from Kelowna Pride Society

“I think with residential ‘schools’ and colonization, our sexualities have been so deeply affected, so it has helped me to access my sexuality in a way that’s safe and isn’t overwhelming.”

As part of South Okanagan Similkameen Pride, their upcoming show will explore “Rez Daddy’s pandemic blues,” they say.

“It’s about what’s going on in Rez Daddy’s head when the pandemic hits and he’s run out of lotion and has no Aunties in his phone texting him back, and he’s in the deep end,” they say with a roaring laugh — like a “skim-freakin-xist” (black freakin’ bear).

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They hope people tune into the free show to witness people expressing their true diverse selves, they say.

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“I want us to just be seen as we are, as badass Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer people, and I hope that people have fun.”

“Swallow Your Pride” isn’t the only event planned for South Okanagan Similkameen Pride. On June 28 at 7 p.m., people can check out “Two Spirit Stories,” a virtual panel. Registration and ticket information for these events is available on the SOSPS website.

Rez Daddy explains that a big part of their role, as they see it, is to support youth to embrace and feel safer in their own identities.

“My hope for the future is that Indigenous Peoples, and our communities, become less homophobic, and we can accept our queer kin more. What’s really important to me is making a future where Indigenous youth are able to be who they are, and be loved unconditionally and truly unconditionally,” says Rez Daddy.

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