Drag Show celebrates pride and talent
“Drag queens are people, too!” said Plane Jane, an established performer from the Boston area. She opened this year’s Triskelion’s Annual Drag Show with what seemed to be a wink to those old Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings. Next to her, co-host and drag king Jayden Jamison welcomed the eager audience to an intergalactic room that looked nothing like Sherman Function Hall.
Following this year’s theme, “Gays in Space,” the room was decorated earlier that evening by members of Triskelion, the LGBTQIA+ club, who made sure that this Saturday’s event took place in an incredibly well-utilized venue. Shimmery stars, glittery curtains and colorful galaxy lights made us believe, at least momentarily, that we were not at Brandeis anymore. Instead, we were enjoying the excitement and pride of any local drag club of the area.
Despite the absence of one of the advertised queens — eccentric Goo Goo Gaga did not make it to the show — Saturday was a massive success thanks to the artists that we got to see on stage. This year’s edition brought a powerful and diverse line-up to an incredibly receptive and supportive audience. Experienced Boston-based performers, such as Atlas Queen and the theatrical Shayna Punum, mingled with an energetic group of Brandeis queens and kings. For some, this was their first time performing in drag at a live venue.
From Aurora Whorealis’s untamed and invigorating rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Venus” to Boston performer California Queen’s ethereal lip sync of Florence + the Machine’s “Cosmic Love,” the performances were as varied as the types of drag presented during the evening. From hyper-feminine to hyper-masculine performers, from comedians to beauty queens, Triskelion managed to portray the ever-evolving and expanding drag scene.
Later into the show, Futasmas’s quirky musicalized ode to the universe was a confusing, yet interesting debut reminiscent of Tammy Brown with bigger hair and looser dance movements. Lip syncs by drag kings Ziggy and Tso Mann Lee followed. Other performances by Brandeis students included a live-singing presentation by “Jamie” who might or might have not forgotten their lyrics, but who was nevertheless reaffirmed by the audience members with the steady clapping of their hands throughout the rest of the song. Drag is all about support, and our Brandeis community delivered that and much more.
Intercultural Center Program Administrator Tara Whitehurst has been attending the annual event for the last three years. This time, she celebrated the participation from both the established queens and students that have just gotten a start in drag. “It’s the best one so far,” she told the Justice in a March 30 interview.
The inclusive atmosphere created by the performers made it easy for the audience to stay engaged and in a collaborative mindset all night, reminding us that in the end, drag is a close interaction between artist and audience. On multiple occasions, some of the attendees directly participated with the drag queens on stage, tipping them (as is expected in a drag show) and dancing and sashaying their way through the aisles of the function hall during a thrilling competition. Saturday’s show was a demonstration of everything that drag is supposed to be about: supporting your community while going beyond the limits of traditional gender norms. We are not in the ’70s anymore, and despite this year’s theme and what Dr. Frank-n-Furter makes us believe, drag queens are not aliens from outer space. If there is one thing that they sure know how to do, it is to take us to another dimension through their art and performance.
To close out the evening, Jeremy Surla Vargas, the new program administrator of the Gender and Sexuality Center, congratulated the performers and the students from Triskelion with a bouquet of pink and red roses. After the show, as the students mingled with the drag queens, he confirmed what many of us wanted to hear: drag is not going anywhere and next year’s version will only be bigger and better.
After this year’s ball, I am sure I speak for many of the attendees when I say we only want to see more of the queens’ charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. However, given this year’s surprisingly big turnout, they may need to host it in a bigger venue.