Drag Show: Kings, queens, supremes take the stage
Kyrie Long / Copy Editor
Attendees wearing drawn-on beards and immaculately styled wigs populated the Wood Center Ballroom Saturday night. Strobe lights danced along the ceiling, flickering to welcome the slowly growing crowd to the fourth annual UAF GSA Drag Show: Kings, Queens, & Supremes
The show took place at 7 p.m. on April 9. Members of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and other volunteers showed up as early as 10 a.m. to set up and prepare for the show.
Half of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the GSA for various alliance events while the other half will be donated to the Interior Aids Society, according Patrick Knavel, president of the GSA. Audience members were encouraged to tip performers, who could keep their tips or choose to donate them.
“These students who have done no drag before go up here and, like, put on professional quality performances,” Knavel said. “And they’re making money while they’re doing it too, which is even better.”
As promised by the show title, there were drag queens and kings present, all working to put on a supreme show. Last year, Bianca Fusion graced the stage with her presence, however there were no professional drag performers at this year’s show.
“Usually drag shows are only for queens,” Knavel said. “And we like to keep ours open to everybody and it’s [access] for people who maybe have, like, anxiety about drag or don’t know how to get into it.”
The show began after a slight delay to allow latecomers time to file in. Knavel was first to the stage, introducing himself as Areola Borealis, and promptly called Master of Ceremonies Alyssa “Empress” Quintyne, to the stage. Empress was not in drag, but dressed up in a floral crop top and high waisted jeans for the event. She would spend the night introducing various performers, encouraging audience participation in dancing and entertaining the audience between sets with short stories.
Empress began by welcoming newcomers to their first show.
“Glad to break the virginity of yours,” she said, inspiring laughter from the audience. “That’s mine, you don’t get it back.”
Empress encouraged audience members, some of whom had dressed for the event, to catwalk down the aisle dividing the seating area. After brief hesitation, a member of the VIP section, hair bedecked with a tiara, strutted down the makeshift runway, other members of the crowd following.
Most of the performers this year were not GSA members, according to Knavel, The GSA invited performers through personal connections and putting up flyers on campus preceding the show.
There were several memorable performances, including Rose to the Stage, who ended her number by striking a pose and tossing a handful of glitter into the air. In the same vein as Rose to the Stage, Kazumi Wonderland and IDK my BFF Jill, portrayed by UAF student Daniel Nero and staff member Ronnie Houchin respectively, performed to “Telephone” by Lady Gaga and accented their number with a confetti canon.
Kazumi and Jill accessorized with fanny packs, which they used to collect tips. Other performers, such as Jake Rocket AKA Venus Vilanova, collected tips in bras and stockings.
Some performers even tipped each other, including a highly applauded moment when Kazumi taunted the drag king Aladdin, portrayed by Jaz Dierenfield, by having him chase her tip around the room. Ultimately, Kazumi dropped the dollar at Aladdin’s feet and sauntered away while the crowd hooted.
A few performances were impeded by technical difficulties. The first number had multiple false starts and the the Shadow Queens (Lin Barron, Ron Casto and Empress), while artistically sound in concept, closed the show with a glitchy projector. Further impeding the performance was the awkwardly placed projection screen, which allowed only a view of a dancer’s legs instead of a full body silhouette.
“It comes with the territory, I think,” Knavel said, regarding some of the technical issues. “No matter how much preparation you do… it’s gonna happen.”
Rebecca Hatfield, a member of the communications graduate program at UAF, attended a show with a friend from the same department.
“I saw a lot of It was energetic and I saw a few of my past students and my future students there,” Hatfield said. “It was really fun.”
The GSA holds weekly meetings on Friday from 3:30-5 p.m. in Room 208 of the Greuning Building