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Miss Kerr Hall drag show spotlights queer art on campus

Miss Kerr Hall drag show spotlights queer art on campus

Blue Valentine is crowned winner of the Miss Kerr Hall drag show. Audience members were able to vote via Twitter polls.

Miss Kerr Hall drag show spotlights queer art on campus
November 17
19:01 2017

Eight extravagantly-dressed queens entered, and only one left — with a crown, that is.

Miss Kerr Hall was an entertainment spectacle on Thursday that lit up the Lyceum. The show featured eight drag queens with each one lip syncing to a song of her choice. The show was created by public relations junior Dylan Asher, who was happy to see how creative the queens could get.

“Usually when you see a drag queen, they’re doing a ‘Top 40’ pop song or a Britney Spears classic in a blonde wig,”  Asher said. “This year, you’re going to see people doing a lot of bending of the rules and changing of the schema of what people think drag is.”

Odessa Rose lip synced to a song in Spanish and even flashed the audience. Liberty Freedom dressed as a witch and had two men come on stage to act as puppets as she lip synced to a cover of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Valerie Scott was just inches from doing a full split during her performance to “Cannibal” by Ke$ha. Blue Valentine performed a Charli XCX mashup that helped show off her sass.

After they had all performed, the audience voted on Twitter to decide who would advance to the next round. Odessa Rose and Blue Valentine went head to head, as did Valerie Scott and Liberty Freedom.

After the final lip sync battle against Valerie Scott, Blue Valentine was crowned Miss Kerr Hall 2017.

The crowd went wild throughout the show, showing how supportive this group was of queer arts. Drag queens are typically male performers who sport exaggeratedly feminine attire and behavior, usually for the purpose of entertainment. The art has grown to be widely celebrated in LGBT culture and beyond, even leaving its mark on campus.

As a resident assistant for Kerr Hall, Asher’s idea for the show spurred from a desire to put on a big event for his residents.

“I want to have bigger programs, not just a PowerPoint on a slide in a hallway,” Asher said.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed. The show began on Kerr Beach, a wooden stage that used to be right outside the residence hall. He played the music on his phone and a speaker and the stage was decorated with Christmas lights. This year, however, he was happy to move the show to the Lyceum and bring up its production value.

Along with the new venue, the show featured new queens. For business junior Caleb Gill, also known as Valerie Scott, this was the first drag performance he had ever done.

Drag is becoming more and more present in popular culture. Asher said it can help LGBT individuals understand a new form of representation at an earlier age.

However, at the same time, Asher has also noticed people treating it poorly.

“With everything, there’s a rose and a thorn to it,” Asher said, “It’s great because it’s inspiring people at a younger age to dabble in their imagination — to express themselves the way they want to express themselves. But at the same time, it’s also kind of being appropriated. You see a lot of lip sync battles and you see a lot of people cross dressing as a joke.”

Asher is not alone in this opinion. Psychology junior Cole Walker hosted Miss Kerr Hall as his alias Kendrix Kyle. He likes that the popularization of drag is creating more jobs for people who are interested in it and bringing more exposure to the art. However, some drag show newcomers are not particularly sensitive. He remembered a show in which he felt like an animal in a zoo.

“It was almost like we were being gawked at,” Walker said.

This also brings attention to the misconceptions of drag. Gill said many people assume someone who does drag is transgender.

“It’s true in some circumstances, but most people just like the idea of being someone different or the artistic style of it,” Gill said.

For anyone who is interested in seeing drag, Miss Kerr Hall is a good start. Asher pointed out that the queens range from amateurs to drag festival performers.

Asher did not dress in drag at the show, but he did surprise the audience at the end with a performance. Clad in short jean shorts and fishnets, he lip synced and danced around stage to Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.” He did a cartwheel and splits, and he brought out a deafening response from the crowd.

It was good that he went out with such style — this was the last Miss Kerr Hall. He will not be coming back as a resident assistant next year, but he is happy with how the show has turned out and was proud to say it was the largest event housing has ever had.

However, there is plenty of drag in Denton. Near the end of the show, Walker informed the audience about Glitterbomb, a queer variety show held at 10 p.m. every Thursday at Andy’s Bar. The show is open to individuals of any gender who are age 18 or older and includes drag, burlesque, music and many other arts. As Kendrix Kyle, Walker prompted the audience to support local queer art.

No matter where you see it, drag is a special kind of art.

“Drag is kind of an amalgamation of female impersonation and performance art, and it kind of marries the two together,” Asher said. “It is the physical manifestation of the queer imagination.”

Feature Image: Blue Valentine is crowned winner of the Miss Kerr Hall drag show. Audience members voted via Twitter polls. Mallory Cammarata

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Camila Gonzalez

Camila Gonzalez

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