Drag, drugs, love, life, and more. That’s what you’ll hear about if you listen to one of my favourite comedy and interview podcasts, Whimsically Volatile. The show is hosted by friends Brian McCook and Craig MacNeil. McCook is better known by his stage name Katya, under which he performs as a drag queen, and for his participation in the competition show RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Every week, Katya and Craig engage in hilarious banter, interview unique guests, and sometimes get serious about life and politics. Past guests have included fellow drag queens like Trixie Mattel and Bianca del Rio, as well as queer rock star and Toronto native Carole Pope.
Some of my favourite aspects of this podcast is its complete lack of filter or censoring and its strange, tangential format. Katya and Craig will talk about anything and everything, with very little direction or central message. This podcast feels like listening to one of those late-night conversations between friends where anything goes, and nothing is held back. There is often a sense of whiplash as the topic can change from addiction and sober living in one minute to long-winded rants about pornography the next. Katya and Craig also have great on-air chemistry and easily balance each other’s personalities. Katya’s wild and wacky spirit contrasts well with Craig’s calmer and more collected one.
The first few episodes consist of some excellent and very frank discussion of Katya’s struggles over the past year. Only a few months prior to the release of the podcast, Katya took a hiatus from public life, citing mental health issues. In the first episode of Whimsically Volatile, Katya and Craig talk about the root cause of these issues, being that Katya had relapsed into his methamphetamine addiction and suffered a psychotic episode. Katya talks openly about his time in rehab and his journey towards mental wellbeing. Listening to someone speak about such vulnerable topics with candor and humour is very refreshing to me, and I encourage everyone to take a listen to Katya’s perspectives on life and self-improvement. Katya and Craig have also engaged in a lot of great political discourse with each other and their guests. In one of my favourite episodes of the show, the hosts have a terrific discussion about the Trump administration with veteran drag queen Lady Bunny.
The only reason I wouldn’t recommend this podcast to some would be that a lot of the episodes contain very graphic conversations about sex that could make some people uncomfortable. However, I would still highly suggest listening to episode eight, called “Contemplation,” which has a slightly more focused discussion about life lessons and less explicit content.
In spirit of the University of Toronto’s upcoming Queer Orientation, I encourage everyone to give this brash and colourful podcast a chance as it presents a great opportunity to learn more about yourself, life, and some aspects of the queer community.