Trisk’s Drag Show celebrates sexuality
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 00:05
I had never been to a drag show before I walked into the Levin Ballroom on May 1. I knew little of what to expect other than what I’d gathered from movies and about one and a half episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race. So when I sat down to watch Triskelion’s Annual Drag Show, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was about to see.
All of the performers stepped out onto the stage in drag—which, according to the Gender Equity Research Center’s website, is “the act of dressing in gendered clothing as part of a performance. Drag Queens perform in highly feminine attire. Drag Kings perform in highly masculine attire. Drag may be performed as a political comment on gender, as parody, or simply as entertainment. Drag performance does not indicate sexuality, gender identity, or sex identity.”
The evening’s hosts, Ms. Janae Jaxxxon and Mr. Kendall East, began the night in high spirits, telling jokes and getting the audience pumped up. The event’s judges—Intercultural Center Program Coordinator for Sexuality and Gender Diversity Jesse Beal, Director of the Office of the Arts Scott Edmiston, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel, Director of the Intercultural Center Monique Gnanaratnam and Senior Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences for Undergraduate Education Elaine Wong—also got into the spirit, donning rainbow-colored suspenders and multicolored ribbons.
Jaxxxon was a sight to behold. She stood well over six feet tall, and her spike-heeled black leather boots only added to her imposing height. She also sported a brunette wig and a skin-tight black mini-dress that I suspected had been originally designed as a long shirt. East, on the other hand, appeared to be only a few inches above five feet. He donned Timberland boots, baggy jeans and boxers, a T-shirt and a goatee. The height difference between Jaxxxon and East made for a hilarious visual, especially when each host performed his or her “signature walk.”
Drag performances typically include lip-syncing, salacious dancing and over-the-top personas. Given that Trisk’s show featured 17 performances, there was a lot of attitude to be found.
Many of the acts, such as Halee Brown and Robyn Lederer’s “Do You Love Me?” were comedic in nature. The song, from Fiddler on the Roof, describes an old married Jewish couple. Lederer wore typical shtetl chic, including a long skirt and a babushka, which is a cloth tied around the head. Brown wore a man’s cap and peyos. Overall, the act was a very funny and unexpected take on a drag performance, which tends to be more sassy than sweet.
Other similarly playful acts include Voice“Male”’s interpretation of Carly Rae Jepson’s über-hit “Call Me Maybe” and Princess Pine’s “Disney Bitch Returns.” In the former act, lead singer and VoiceMale President Chase Hiller replaced the phrase “call me” with evermore vulgar phrases. All members of the group performed in drag, and the crowd obviously enjoyed the bawdy number.
In Princess Pine’s act, Pine set up a small mirror, a dressing table and a changing screen. The music to “Reflection” from Mulan played as Pine examined themselves in the mirror, clearly distraught that their external appearance did not match their internal gender identity. As the song concluded, Pine snuck behind the screen and returned wearing a more masculine outfit. Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”—really, could you ask for a more appropriate song?—accompanied their actions.
Some of the acts were far more serious than Disney parodies, however. Two performers, Lani Gustavson and Jason Lederer, used spoken-word poetry to express their experiences with gender and sexual nonconformity. These acts were deeply affecting, especially as they focused on issues of gay bullying and teen suicide.
Another act that was rather unexpected was L. Savage and Anderson’s “I’m Speechless on the Edge with Yoü.” Savage and Anderson performed an interpretive dance to a medley of Lady Gaga songs. The number was rather melancholic compared to the other performances, but it was also artistically complex, and the choreography was some of the most captivating of the night.
One of the last performances was also the most outrageous: Jessika Savage’s “3” was a dance-theater act performed to the Britney Spears song of the same name. Savage took on the role of “mad scientist,” complete with lab coat, orange mesh booty shorts and a black mesh bra. After writhing on the stage in front of a tarp-covered object at the beginning of the song, Savage whisked away the covering to reveal three other dancers kneeling on the floor in a “human centipede” configuration. The rest of the act consisted of Savage interacting with her “creation.” The number was bizarre and more than a little dirty and raunchy. And the audience went crazy for it.
The judges handed out awards to each performer at the end of the night. Nearly all of the award categories were made up on the spot: The Burly Bear Best Facial Hair Award, for example, went to Halee Brown for squir exquisite Jewish locks.
Trisk’s Drag Show showcases the diverse talent and creativity (not to mention flexibility) of our school’s queer community. It is fun, sexy and outrageous. I can’t wait to see what Trisk comes up with next year.