Drag Race star Kyne teaches maths in heels, hair and full glam and fans are obsessed
Canada’s Drag Race fan favourite Kyne has a new title: the maths queen of TikTok.
It’s not the expected route for a Drag Race alum – teaching the history of Isaac Newton, quizzing fans on the odds of rolling snake eyes (double ones) while dressed as Medusa and explaining why globes and maps aren’t accurate in full glam.
In one of Kyne’s videos, she asks fans a classic maths problem: how long will it take for her to meet up sitting 10km upstream while she paddles at 5km/h (spoiler: it’s all about the rate of the current).
Before finding fame on social media and participating in the debut season of Canada’s Drag Race, the Philippines-born queen had long been trying to find a way to combine her two loves – drag and maths.
She first “fell in love with the artistry” of make-up during high school, and eventually found drag when a group of fabulous queens visited her university. Around the same time, she also stumbled upon RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“I just thought: This is what I need to be doing,” she tells PinkNews. “As I was falling in love with makeup, I just kept wanting it to be more theatrical and bolder. It felt to me like drag was the goal that I where I needed to be.”
Kyne never thought she would be able to make a full-time living in her small city from being a drag queen so initially treated it as her “little side hustle”.
“I was basically in school getting my math degree and making some videos about drag on YouTube as my little hobby,” she says.
But then, RuPaul announced she was setting up shop in Canada and everything changed. Kyne was cast in the first season of Canada’s Drag Race, which came hot on the heels of the runaway success of Drag Race UK. With the RuPaul empire expanding, the global fandom was dying to see what Canada had up its sleeve, and Kyne thought she’d found her ticket to fame and to becoming a “celebrity drag queen”.
Sadly, she was eliminated in the second episode. She wouldn’t “change a thing”, she says today, as she had “loads of fun”, and it allowed her to forge her path on TikTok, free from any expectations people had of her from the show.
“I knew people wouldn’t really like me from the show, and TikTok was my way of putting myself out there with me being the one to edit, curate and control what people get to see of me,” she explains.
“It was my own thing that people could discover me for. I think if I had won the show and been a fan-favourite maybe I wouldn’t have had that same encouragement to veer off and do my own thing.”
There’s a running joke among performers on the scene that they do drag because they “didn’t get good grades in school”, Kyne says, which is echoed throughout the gay community.
It was because of this stereotype that Kyne, a self-described ‘maths nerd’, sometimes doubted her sexuality when growing up. When she was younger, she thought she had to be straight and “not be flamboyant” in order to be taken seriously, and to get scholarships.
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“Maybe that’s why it took so long for me to share that interest with my followers because I didn’t think anyone was interested in seeing a drag queen talk about STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics],” Kyne says.
Some of Kyne’s favourite videos have been the ones where she can not only teach people new things, but also can physically explore new places. As COVID restrictions have eased, Kyne has travelled abroad to spread the word: maths can be fun.
During a trip to the UK, Kyne explained why the London Tube map is “efficient but also wrong” in a gold dress and full beat.
She also loves it when people compare her to “one of those video questions from Jeopardy!”
“I think it’s so camp and funny because I just think to myself like OK, drag queen teaching maths how can I make it even more ridiculous?” Kyne says. “How about a drag queen teaching math in a canoe or a winter snowstorm.”
While those are her favourites, often the videos that people go “bats**t crazy” over on TikTok are the ones where she is just talking about a Mobius strip or Rubik’s cube in her living room.
Even though she started making maths videos “as a joke”, she thinks her 1.3 million followers “have found that maths can actually be really interesting”, and wants to continue to inspire other queer kids with a passion for STEM to pursue it.
“[Maths] is relevant to all of us whether you’re a drag queen or a scientist,” Kyne says. “Maths impacts all of our lives, and there is a need for lots of diversity in STEM.”