Dragging queer celebration into the spotlight

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Voluminous wigs and seven-inch heels tend to make someone larger-than-life, especially when that someone bursts onto stage with music and splits, sequined-costumes and glittery makeup. The Student Union Theater was full of larger-than-life performers on Tuesday night while hosting the University of Connecticut annual Drag Show, celebrating all the pomp and rule-breaking queerness that drag is all about.

The show was put together by the Rainbow Center and the Student Union Board of Governors and drew a full, excited audience. When the doors opened, the line to get in stretched from the theater down to the Dairy Bar Too. The students who attended were lively and energetic, and more than willing to interact with the drag performers and the show’s hosts.

Drag queens XioMarie LaBeija and Rarity Moonchild hosted the event, LaBeija’s filter-less and constant commentating offset Moonchild’s more soft-spoken and dry humor. The former burst onto stage at the very beginning of the event, announcing she was a drag queen, and proceeding to explain things drag queens: Applause, screaming, dollar bills. With a large wig and a tear-away robe, LaBeija’s opening performance and comments introduced some in the audience to drag for the first time.

“I came out last year,” sixth-semester civil engineering major Makyle Hawk said. “So this is my first gay event.”

Part of the intent of the event was not only to entertain audiences, but also to inform them about drag and drag culture. The handed-out program included an explanation entitled “Understanding Drag,” detailing the differences between a drag persona and a transgender individual and emphasizing the importance of asking for pronouns, which LaBeija also emphasized during the show.

“I feel like the event, although entertaining, is also very informational,” sixth-semester environmental engineering major Sara Aldorondo said.

Providence-based drag queen and headliner Pulp Friction also emphasized the importance of paying attention to the subtleties of gender identity and expression during the dance-competition portion of the show.

One of the many opportunities for audience participation, took place right before intermission, where four students were selected to dance off against one another on stage. After selecting two female participants and one male participant, Friction called herself a “rule-breaker” and said the final contestant didn’t need to be a male student, but maybe masculine-presenting or along those lines.

Besides the lively quipping between the hosts and the audience and the dance competition, students were represented on-stage in the form of drag queen Cara Ho, a UConn student who debuted in drag for the first time, Tuesday night.

“It was amazing seeing one of my friends on stage,” eighth-semester sociology major Shariel Rodriguez, said.

Ho, Friction and all the other drag performers brought their own individuality and pizzazz to their performances. Friction emerged on stage with large golden devil horns and tail. Ambrosia Queen emerged in a vampiric nun costume. Hazel Berry came out several times in various shades of red and purple, performing fun and energetic pop songs. Robin Fierce was the only performer to sing instead of dubbing, while she rocketed around the theater with bouncy energy and acrobatics. Mia E Z’Lay emerged during the second half of the show in a dinosaur-print dress dubbing the Magic School Bus theme song. One drag king was featured, Ray Decorazon, to the wild appreciation of audience members, ending his first song shirtless. Many of the performers could high kick and jump into splits, but featured performer Miss Toto might have taken the crown in the acrobatics department with a one-handed cartwheel.

Between the variety of performances, the information in the schedule, commentary by the hosts and Friction’s final farewell at the end of the show, in which he emphasized the importance of supporting queer people of color and transgender individuals, audiences got a good balance of performance, and education.


Alex Houdeshell is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.

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