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Brooke Lynn Hytes’ Guide to Nashville

The first Canadian queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race spills the tea on the best hot chicken in Nashville, life on tour and making RuPaul gag.

Brooke Lynn Hytes

“I miss Swiss Chalet. I’m very passionate about it,” says Brooke Lynn Hytes, the first Canadian drag queen to compete on the Emmy-winning series RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ever since she walked into the hit TV show’s workroom wearing a glitzy Mountie uniform, the self-proclaimed #queenofthenorth has emerged as a fan favourite thanks to her impressive looks and dance skills, which she honed at Canada’s National Ballet School. We spoke to the Ontario native (who now calls Nashville home) ahead of the RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 finale to chat about her time on the show and get the lowdown on her favourite places to eat, drink and explore in her adoptive city.

How does it feel to be the first Canadian queen on Drag Race?
The response from everyone in Canada has been so lovely and so Canadian. I’m very happy to be representing my country.

You now live in Nashville. What’s the drag scene like there?
It’s a small town, but there’s a lot of drag queens. They all work at Play Dance Bar, where I used to work. It’s the only popular gay dance club in Nashville.

Who are your favourite drag queens in town?
Vanity is a favourite of mine. Deception is also a legendary queen from Nashville. I’ve been working with all of these girls forever. We’re all like sisters, and I miss them very much when I’m on the road.

Where do you go for a drink with friends?
I’m not a huge club person. I like having a seat. There’s a great gay bar called Canvas Lounge. It’s a hole in the wall and it’s very laid-back. That’s where I want to hang out and have an old-fashioned or a shot of tequila. Those are my two drinks.

1707 Church St., 615-320-8656

And if you’re in the mood to dance, where do you go?
Honestly, Play Dance Bar is the only place where you can dance in Nashville that’s not a country bar.

1519 Church St., 615-322-9627,

You have family in town, where do you take them for dinner?
I would take them to 5th & Taylor in Germantown. It’s Americana food with a twist. The space is gorgeous and the food is incredible. I love the beef stew.

1411 5th Ave. N., 615-242-4747,

What’s the best barbecue joint?
That’s a tough one because there are so many. My favourite is Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. They’re really friendly, and the meat just falls off the bone. I’m a big brisket person, so that’s what I get when I go. It’s amazing!

410 4th Ave. S., 615-288-0880;
3108 Belmont Blvd., 615-200-1181,

You’re walking down the street in Nashville – what song are you listening to?
I walk everywhere in Nashville, and I find that anything Beyoncé sings is great walking music. But to be more specific, “Freedom” would be my “walking in Nashville” song.

Where do you go to get inspired?
I go down to the honky-tonks near Lower Broadway, where the nightlife is really bustling. You can see a lot of crazy characters there, like over-the-top musicians and funny street performers. You name it, it’s all down there.

What do you do if you’re feeling sad in Nashville?
Oh, that’s easy! You go get yourself some Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. It is Nashville’s number-one must-do. There’s different degrees of hotness, and it gets really hot, really quickly. I get the quarter white hot chicken, medium-hot.

Multiple locations,

You’re touring a lot right now. What are your hacks for not feeling exhausted on the road?
Don’t drink alcohol and just drink lots of water. If you’re not getting a lot of sleep, you want to stay hydrated. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’ve been travelling non-stop and I’m averaging four hours of sleep. I do love a cocktail, but you just have to give certain things up in order to be the best version of yourself. And grab naps whenever you can.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve napped recently?
It happened yesterday. I was doing a photoshoot and I just had a nap in a barber’s chair, while in full drag.

I want to talk about your time on RuPaul’s Drag Race. How did you feel when you saw RuPaul’s reaction to your now iconic reveal on the runway during episode 8?
That’s a moment I will never forget. I remember doing the reveal and looking at him and Michelle – they were just going crazy. It was the best feeling. I had done so horribly that week as Céline Dion in the Snatch Game, that it was nice to know that if I couldn’t make him laugh, I could at least make him gag.

Would you ever do a Céline impression again?
Absolutely! No, I’m just kidding. I’m very comfortable with the fact that I’m not good at doing Céline Dion. But now I think it’s funny.

Are you coming to Canada anytime soon?
I’ll be at Toronto Pride in June and Montreal Pride in August.