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Mx Kerr Hall crowns a new queen, celebrates LGBTQ+ community

Mx Kerr Hall crowns a new queen, celebrates LGBTQ+ community

Mx Kerr Hall crowns a new queen, celebrates LGBTQ+ community
November 13
16:48 2018

A line trailed along the wall through the art gallery in the Union. The Lyceum was so packed that at least 50 people had to be turned away.

This is the popularity of Mx Kerr Hall, an annual drag race for and by UNT students.

Public relations senior Dylan Asher started Mx Kerr Hall during his sophomore year in 2016 and as a first-year residence hall assistant.

“Housing’s never really done a drag show before they partnered with UPC to do the big drag show in the spring,” Asher said. “I took it upon myself and worked with my supervisor to create Mx Kerr Hall.”

Although the night was filled with passionate performances, the Mx Kerr Hall crowd cheered loudest when Asher took the stage with his “F–K TED CRUZ” shirt, shorts and fishnets.

“It feels pretty validating to have had a project I created my sophomore year in 2016 come so far and evolve so much,” Asher said. “At the same time, it’s a little bittersweet because [Mx Kerr Hall] is going to be one of the things I [will] miss most about college.”

More than a drag show

Contestants getting ready behind the scenes at Mx Kerr Hall 2018. Emily Olkkola

Mx Kerr Hall 2016 was held days after Donald Trump was elected president. This year, Mx Kerr Hall was held just six days after Ted Cruz was reelected to the U.S. Senate. Asher said due to the events, the show felt more meaningful in a polarized political climate.

“I find it — not necessarily good or anything like that — but I find it interesting that it’s coming after Cruz in 2018,” Asher said. “It seems it’s become more symbolic and more than just drag. It’s also about students rallying behind and unifying for our LGBTQ students [and] our [students of color]. It’s really about UNT supporting them and their first endeavors in drag.”

Asher thinks although UNT is a queer-friendly campus, it is not a drag-friendly campus.

“I know a lot of the other seasoned drag queens who are booked and are performers [and are also UNT students who] agree that whenever you go to big shows with a RuPaul girl highlighting, the focus is placed more on [the RuPaul girl],” Asher said. “[The focus is] not the drag performers themselves — not the students. Whereas [when you go to Mx Kerr Hall], all eyes are on them.”

When the show was established, it was named “Ms. Kerr Hall.”

“It was typically only for drag queens,” Asher said. “Not that I tailored it toward drag queens only, but drag queens were the only people who ever really experienced [and] reached out to me to be a part of the show.”

Asher never got any requests from drag kings or any androgynous figures until this year when he changed the name from “Ms. Kerr Hall” to “Mx. Kerr Hall,” in which the first drag king and androgynous performer were featured.

“‘Mx’ is a surname that doesn’t apply to any gender,” Asher said. “It’s open to all sort of genders and sexual identities, so we’ve got an androgynous performer and we’ve got a drag king which is something I’ve never had before [and] I’m really excited for.”

Passing the torch

Senior public relations major Dylan Asher hugs all eliminated performers after he had invited them all on stage to dance with him. Emily Olkkola

This is Asher’s last year helping out with Mx Kerr Hall as he graduates in December. Asher received a mentee for the first time in the resident assistant program — drawing and painting junior Cody Norton.

“I went to the drag show last year, and I really loved it,” Norton said. “When I became an RA at Kerr, [I came] to find out that Dylan was the one who ran it and asked if I could help.”

Even though Asher is graduating, he plans on helping Norton with Mx Kerr Hall.

“It’s going to be a lot to take because I think [Asher has] almost mastered getting the show together,” Norton said. “It’s not going to be starting from scratch because I’m going to pick up from where he left off, but it’s just going to be trying to get my name out there to all — for everyone to know who I am as person, as an RA and as a director of the show.”

Mx Kerr Hall was hosted by Kylee O’Hara Fatale, who was voted Denton’s Best Drag Queen and has made a name for herself in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by performing and hosting her own show in Dallas called “The Queer Off.”

Asia O’hara from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is Kylee O’Hara Fatale’s drag mother, meaning a queen who is typically more established and has their foot in the door “adopts” a more amateur queen.

“It does carry a lot of weight [to have a famous drag mother],” Asher said. “I know with more commercial drag shows like ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ drag families have a really big part in who gets cast in shows and things like that.”

Crowning the star

Mx Kerr Hall 2018 Eva Starr during her performance. Emily Okkola

There were nine performances but eight performers competed for the title of Mx Kerr Hall 2018.

Twitter polls made by Kerr Hall initially narrowed down the performers to a top five. After an intense lip sync between the two, Eva Starr — otherwise known as Evan Cawthon — emerged victorious as Mx Kerr Hall 2018.

Being crowned felt like a “full circle” moment for Cawthon.

“A year ago, I saw a post made on social media about UNT having a drag competition, and it inspired me to do drag,” Cawthon said in an email. “So I applied to UNT, started drag and won the competition I saw featured on an Instagram post a year ago. Tonight was surreal for me.”

The computer science freshman only learned how to glue his eyebrows down and put on a wig just four months ago when he first started doing drag. Cawthon gave it his all when he was performing.

“As I was performing, I was thinking about selling the performance to the highest level possible — knowing every word, knowing every beat, knowing every dance move, every hair flip,” Cawthon said. “My mind was on X-Games mode the entire time I was on stage.”

Cawthon said it was the help of his community that propelled his win.

“This win wasn’t mine because I’m ‘the best,’ — this win was mine because of all of the help I have received from all the girls, all of the advice, all of the makeup tips, all of the one-on-one conversations about ‘tea,’” Cawthon said. “This win was for everyone tonight, as I am here right now because of all of the people who have helped me and the hard work and determination from myself.”

Featured Image: Mx Kerr Hall host Kylee O’Hara Fatale with Mx Kerr Hall 2018 Eva Starr. Emily Olkkola

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Emily Olkkola

Emily Olkkola

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