The Rainbow Center sold out the Student Union Theater for their annual drag show, featuring Katya Zamolodchikova, winner of season 7 RuPaul’s Drag Race and runner up of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 2.
The show featured primarily lip sync performances by five drag queens and four drag kings. These included regional and student participants.
The show’s M.C., Xiomarie Labeija, hails from Bridgeport, CT. She opened the show with a performance of her own before introducing herself as the host. Xiomarie broke up the song and dance performances with comedic bits, often cracking racy jokes. The entire show was very explicit and unfiltered, a fact foreshadowed by security checking IDs at the door, ensuring that everyone entering the theater was 18 or older.
Xiomarie introduced every performer pageant-style and included their social media information, urging audiences to use their smartphones to follow the drag monarchs.
“In times like this, where we become intimate and you get to see us perform, it’s so important for you to connect with us this way as well. We put our heart, passion and often last penny into this. This is the passion I love the most, and working alongside my sisters, so I like to promote them as much as possible,” said Xiomarie.
Hazel Berry-Rose followed the host’s performance, with a relatively politically driven rendition of P!nk’s “Stupid Girls.” The song was edited to include commentary from Tomi Lahren in between choruses and Berry-Rose performed her entire dance with a foam finger referring to Trump. She performed again in the second act, lip-syncing to Little Mix’s “Hair.”
Onyx Queen also performed twice, to Charli XCX’s “Vroom Vroom” and “Just a Touch of Your Love” by Little Mix. She accompanied her lip-syncing with very fast-paced dance moves and edgy outfits.
Rich and Dick Rockefeller, Jacques Diof and Ace Diamond and Jaay Vanity also took the stage. Everyone brought very attitude-filled performances, some telling a story through their song choice and lit up the stage with a slew of sequined outfits. Audience members reacted wildly to every hair flip, high kick, backbend and cartwheel.
Katya’s special performance consisted of her lip syncing her pieces in the songs “Read U Wrote U” and “The Same Parts.” She had a great chemistry and tongue-in-cheek rapport with the host, as they bounced jokes off one another. Katya took the time to interact with and impart some wisdom on the audience.
“Don’t smoke crack. Do get the money up front,” she advised. She also reminisced about her time in college, sharing that she hoped there were political science majors in the audience. Katya had a self-deprecating sense of humor, joking about her age, race, popularity, anatomy and self-proclaimed position as a “Russian hooker.” She also got political, comparing President Donald Trump to Voldemort in the sense that she refuses to say his name due to her annoyance with him.
Her second song got cut a bit short due to an apparent technical difficulty, but she took the extra time to receive tips from the audience and even to sit on the lap of someone in the front row and joke about their “new relationship.”
“I’m 34 years old, I have psoriasis and I just opened my legs in a medium sized theater,” Katya closed her appearance with more of the self-deprecating humor.
“I was overwhelmed when I heard Katya was coming to UConn. I follow the show [RuPaul’s Drag Race] and I think events like these are so great at gaining more exposure to drag as a form of entertainment,” said Bethany Marion, a seventh semester history major. “It’s becoming more mainstream and it’s important students see that.”
Between acts, Xiomarie and Katya judged a dance off between four audience members. After choosing randomly, two guys danced to hip-hop, two girls to the theme “vogue” and the winners of those respective rounds faced-off for a surprise prize, which ended up being an opportunity to meet all the performers as well as a package.
“We are all a family no matter how much shade is thrown and at the end of the day we only have each other and have to support each other,” closed Xiomarie. “Can we get a round of applause for taking a step in supporting what we love.”
The show was followed by a question and answer style meet and greet with the performers in the Rainbow Center. The 2017 drag show was co-sponsored by the Rainbow Center, Alpha Phi sorority, SUBOG, UConn Diversity and Inclusion and UConn Wellness and Prevention.
Julia Mancini is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.