Everyone loves Chelazon
- By Kerry Benjoe | March 09, 2023
Since making an appearance on Canada’s Drag Race, Chelazon Leroux has become a household name.
She was at the Saskatchewan Science Centre (SSC) in Regina to host a drag show on Valentine’s Day and the crowd couldn’t be more thrilled.
Sandy Baumgartner, CEO of the SSC, said the adult-only events are held every two months and attract an average of about 200 guests. The purpose of the nights is to drive home the message; science is for everyone.
“But really what is most important, more than the numbers, is the enthusiasm of our guests,” she said. “If you were watching the show, you would have heard the screams, the squeals and the cheering that’s what it’s about; making sure we’re inclusive for everyone and have a good time.”
She let her staff take the lead in planning and has no regrets despite not knowing who Chelazon was beforehand.
“The staff brought her to my attention, so I looked up some of her videos and realized I was missing out,” said Baumgartner. “I am a huge fan now.”
Melanie Rose, a Metis artist, is a big fan of Chelazon’s alter ego known as Auntie.
“I am really enjoying myself,” she said. “I didn’t tell my husband I was taking him to a drag show. I just wanted him to experience something different, which is really fun. And I love the the Indigenous humour.”
She learned about Chelazon and Auntie through social media before seeing her on television.
On TikTok alone, Chelazon Leroux has amassed more than 500,000 followers and 6.8 million likes on her videos.
Layten Byhette, 23, from Buffalo River Dene Nation and Fond du Lac, is the person who created both the Chelazon and Auntie personalities. Prior to downloading the TikTok app on his phone, he was working a part-time job in a small, isolated community.
Today, he owns Just Deadly Merchandise, Just Deadly Entertainment and travels around the country and sometimes internationally. In addition to creating social media content, he brings entertainment and laughter to thousands of often screaming fans.
“This journey especially over the past year has been hectic and crazy and sometimes I don’t get enough sleep,” she said. “But what makes me so happy, especially after doing [Canada’s] Drag Race is hearing how people were impacted by that representation. Family members or people from back home were seeing someone like themselves on TV.”
As the first Saskatchewan person to make it on the show, Chelazon represented not only Indigenous people, but the province and that increased her popularity.
“I think I showed people it was possible,” she said.
Although she couldn’t have predicted how drastic her life could change, she always knew she wanted to perform.
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted this,” said Chelazon. “Creator works in mysterious ways.”
For those who are curious, Auntie is Byhette’s love letter to the Indigenous women who raised him.
“She’s that humour, she’s that tough love type person and she is the type of woman who always accepted me for who I was,” Chelazon explained.
On a serious note, she said growing up in a small community as an Indigiqueer person was difficult at sometimes not knowing if it was OK to be different or if it was OK to be gay or queer.
“Sometimes it was met really negatively, but I always knew I had to be authentic to myself,” said Chelazon. “I would much rather have someone love me for who I am than love me for someone that I am not."