The Nov. 18 episode of Canada’s Drag Race had a smorgasbord of sin in The Sinner’s Ball, but unfortunately, Synthia Kiss wasn’t sinful enough. Kiss became the sixth drag queen to leave the Canada’s Drag Race werkroom, but she said she was happy for every moment she experienced on the show.
“I think sometimes expectations are like premediated disappointments,” she told Shadow and Act in an exit interview. “So for me, I really liked to take it day by day and every single challenge, even when I was safe, I was just so scared just to be sent home first. Even with that Rusical, just me being safe, I was like, ‘Yes, I just get to be in another episode!” I wasn’t even thinking like, ‘That should have been me at the top this week. I should have won.’ I was just so grateful to be there the whole time that…everything’s gravy. Like the fact that I got on. So that was a really nice place and mindset to center myself. It kept me as calm as possible because I’m like an anxious little squirrel 80 percent of the time.”
The Rusical challenge, in which Kiss showed off her singing talent, was one of the highlights of Kiss’s run on the show. Her biggest win came from the Snatch Game, in which she portrayed celebrity stylist and judge Brad Goreski’s former employer Rachel Zoe.
Well, I was always a chorus girl, never a lead,” she said about her Rusical performance, alluding to her experiences in musical theater as one possible reason why she might have struggled with her confidence in the past. “I wasn’t walking in there like Eve  saying, ‘I can do this, I can do that,’ that because I honestly didn’t know if I had the chops. I really thought, ‘Okay, let’s go for it.'”
I heard the song, I felt it was in my range, but I wasn’t going, ‘I got this girl, take a seat, watch me pop off,’ because I genuinely have not sang in front of an audience in over 12 years,” she continued. “It’s not something that I do on a routine basis. Like, [with Canada’s Drag Race host Brooke Lynn Hytes] and ballet dancing–that’s a skill. She can say she’s incredible at that. Singing was not one of these skills that I was actually that confident in. So when I got the response from the viewers, it was actually overwhelming.”
She said she felt “very touched and blessed” from the response because she didn’t receive any feedback from the judges regarding her performance.
“I didn’t even make it to the top that week. I had no feedback given, so it was really like this thing I knew I did, I was proud of myself for going for it but I didn’t actually get a lot of feedback until the show actually aired,” she said. “So it was a really cool little time capsule moment. And it opened the show! It was vulnerable. You couldn’t run, you couldn’t hide if it wasn’t working, it’s a live mic. So the fact that it went well, I was [relieved].”
As for portraying Zoe, Kiss said, using her Zoe impression, it was “really bananas.”
“Honestly, when I was there, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to go for this, but I can’t screw it up.’ Like you have to get it character right,” she said. “He knows her so well, so intimately, they kind of have beef, so it was like, if I don’t keep this on the line of respect, this could be a bad look for Brad. But it was kind of fun also putting him in the hot seat because, he is the judge there the whole time, but I was like, ‘No, no, I’m your boss today on the Snatch Game, be a little scared.’ It was a thrill.”
“My favorite part [while] watching it was seeing the little smile on my face when I was volleying with Brad. You could really tell I was having a fun time because once we got going, once I got a couple of chuckles from everybody, you can tell you’re being funny. And therefore it was like, ‘Okay, let’s go ham, let’s be a zany little guy tonight,’ and it was really fun.”
While Kiss did win Snatch Game, she was simply declared safe in the Rusical, leading fans to wonder why judging across the franchise can seem hit-or-miss. Kiss also commented on the judging, saying that she believes runways are weighed differently depending on the challenges.
“I think this season there’s a lot of talent when it comes to the runways and I was surprised how much that was going to be weighted in my experience. Watching the show in the past, I’ve noticed that some runways they’re not as make or break as I feel the season I participated in was,” she said. “There were points where I felt like my performance was good. And then yes, the runway could have had room for improvement, especially amongst some of these really impressive other looks, but it almost started to feel like performances were secondary.”
“As a viewer watching, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that is kind of interesting,’ because I’ve worked at [this] my whole life,” she continued. “It’s one thing to outsource a garment, but this is me, these are my bones, this is my character. But the true win is the response from the fans. So regardless of an accolade or two, I would take the response from the fanbase, any day.”
As for the Sinner’s Ball, Kiss’ downfall came from actually being too pretty. Her “Ugly as Sin” look ended up looking fashionable and editorial, and her rock and roll look split the judges, with some feeling it was too clean and expected, while others loved it because it was clean and concise. But if you lose because you’re too pretty, is it really a loss?
Regardless, Kiss felt like the ball was the perfect chance to showcase her fashion versatility.
“It’s looks on looks,” she said. “I think it’s always a beautiful chance to showcase as much as possible on the show. So when it’s basically like three runways on top of each other, what a treat. It was that fun challenge…that’s kind of like the brilliance of the ball challenge on Canada’s Drag Race and the Drag Race franchise.
She did admit she was getting in her head because, as she said, “my runways were getting dog-walked a little bit.”
“So when it came to picking a new [look], I was like, I need to be amazing. And then my box [of materials from the mini-challenge] had a lot of gold in it. I was like, I can’t do another gold design challenge. I was trying to stay away from that,” she said, referencing the gold lame jumpsuit look she presented earlier in the season.
“I was getting in my head a lot, essentially. I was having some moments where I was like freezing creatively, but ultimately…I’m super duper proud of everything I had to showcase [on the show]. And I think the brilliance of the show is there’s so much more than those runways. [The runways are] a huge, beautiful, delight, kind of like a parade at the end of each week and don’t get me wrong–there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears and talent that goes into those runways. But going on the show, I was just so excited to showcase the sides of my personality [and] me as an entertainer that you wouldn’t get to see on a regular Instagram post. There’s so much more to my personality and I was proud to showcase that makes people laugh [and] makes people smile.”
The standout from the Sinner’s Ball was Kimora Amour, who walked the runway during the Ugly as Sin portion with a stirring presentation of a slave who breaks her shackles and escapes to Canada. Kiss said that the shocked silence present on screen wasn’t just an edit for television.
“I had walked out before her and…like essentially once you’re done, you don’t just…hang out and eat popcorn beside Brooke Lynn. But it was really emotional for her,” she said. “I know [that] even right after she got off the runway, she needed a second just to really decompress because I think there’s just so much emotional baggage going into bearing your soul like that. Like talk about leading, with the utmost vulnerability and honesty.”
Kiss’s admiration of Amour’s ability to be unapologetically courageous comes reflects Kiss’s tug-of-war with introversion.
“The thing I love about Kimora is she is not scared to tackle things head on,” she continued. “I actually wish I had an ounce of her bravery when it came to having the hard conversations, even when it comes to talking about sex, she doesn’t beat around the bush. She’s a nurse. she knows how to get in [and talk about it] and I’m just like, ‘Yes.’ I honestly love it. I applaud it. I think if I could have an ounce of that confidence when it comes to just speaking your truth–I think it was, it was really important for her. And then there’s me walking down the runway as pink Mrs. M&M. It was a very, very stark juxtaposition.”
Kiss said she was “really happy” Amour got to showcase her Ugly as Sin performance “because it’s really important.”
“That’s what this show is about, getting to share your stories [and] make people think about these convesations, no matter how uncomfortable it makes someone. If it makes you uncomfortable, that speaks volumes as to your privilege in this situation. So, mad, mad props [to Amour].” It’s brave to put yourself out there, to stick your neck out in any conversation in life. That’s what I mean about her just being such a cool character. I know there’s these times where I’ve always been kind of too shy to raise my hand and make sure my voice is heard. And so I love that she never holds back. I think it’s really rad.”
However, introversion isn’t antithetical to being able to influence others, and several of Hollywood’s biggest stars are also introverts, meaning Kiss is in good company. She said that she hopes she can provide a platform of vulnerability and acceptance by showcasing her authentic self and her story to her fans, a story that includes her experiences with her father owning his own truth as a gay man later in life. Kiss said that sharing that story of her father’s journey was “very cathartic” and that she loved “being that open.”
“I think for me, the biggest takeaway is the power and being imperfect,” she said. “I think when you try to be this airbrushed glossy thing that can work for some, but it’s just not my style. I feel like the fans of Synthia are those who resonate on a frequency, like my vulnerability. Sure, I can be like a pretty blonde girl that can get me through the door, but what keeps you around is my openness, my humility. And those are the things that got to be included in the final edit of episodes because they’re special and they’re tokens of joy. And so for me, I want to embody that going forward.”
“I think there’s times in life where, you know, you can Photoshop a selfie till the cows come home, but it’s like, you know what? Maybe I have a pimple today. You know what? Maybe my hair looks a little weird. Some of this stuff is not the most crucial thing in the world. It’s actually more approachable to just be your authentic self. So that’s one thing,” she continued. “Watching the show. It was, it felt kind of risky at the time to just be like unapologetically me. But then when I got to see the final edit, it was like, ‘Wait, I’m fun! I feel like we can keep this up.’ Like if this makes people happy, I can commit to this because this is the real me. I’m not putting on an act. I didn’t want to be a fake persona because if you met me in person, there’d be this cognitive dissonance. So my future for Synthia, [is] just to continue that, whether that’s through music, putting on a podcast, doing YouTube videos, I just always want that realness factor to be part of it.”
Canada’s Drag Race airs Thursdays on WOW Presents Plus.