UPC Drag Show highlights every color in the rainbow

UPC Drag Show highlights every color in the rainbow

UPC Drag Show highlights every color in the rainbow
April 12
12:21 2018

The performers at the UPC drag show wanted to win the competition and get tips. The host, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Aja, just wanted some chicken nuggets.

The Residence Hall Association, University Program Council and Pride Alliance came together to put on a drag show on Wednesday, April 11.

All of the performers are UNT students. Alex Sylvester, student services coordinator for the Pride Alliance, said that student drag shows can be found at many universities and they are beneficial for many students.

“I think student drag shows are so important because for me, they were a big part of me coming to understand my gender identity,” Sylvester said. “For a lot of people, they’re not that. For a lot of people, they’re just fabulous men who love to do gender performance.”

All the tips performers received will go to Outfits Clothing Closet, a Pride Alliance project where students can get gender-affirming clothing for free.

Valerie Scott performs at UNT’s drag show in the Coliseum. The show was hosted by University Program Council, Residence Hall Association and Pride Alliance. Mallory Cammarata

The organizations focused on supporting performers of color while picking performers and the host.

Sylvester said many popular drag terms stem from ball culture, which developed in low income communities of LGBT people of color. This includes words like “reading,” (similar to roasting someone) and “shady.”

“The modern interpretation of drag lets white people feel entitled to take a lot of things that culturally don’t belong to them,” Sylvester said.

The show began with the only competing drag king, Gorgeous AKA Chocolate Bieber, who carried an umbrella during the rain-themed performance. Budget Klutz performed next and wowed the audience with her choreography. Valerie Scott entered in a fur coat before taking it off to reveal a golden, fringed leotard.

Nyla Starfire’s medley of songs included “Fergalicious” and “Anaconda.” During her performance, people came on stage carrying pride flags before she was ultimately crowned the winner by the end of the competition.

Gianna Pescada entered while “A Thousand Miles” was playing. The performance also included “Crazy in Love.” No matter how much the queen moved her head, her wig did not come close to falling off. She was the runner-up.

Deja Voodoo took off her golden dress and hooded cape to reveal a black corset and black panties with “back rolls” written on her back. She threw condoms into the audience.

Integrative studies senior Darrian Thomas, who performed as Deja Voodoo, said the problem of racism in drag reflects racism in the gay community and in the United States.

“We are already a marginalized group, we’re already a group who’s persecuted against, and then we have even more persecution within that group,” Thomas said.

He said that it feels like a “pat on the back” to know that people like Sylvester are trying to spotlight queens of color. He also said there is more diversity in the current season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which inspired him to try drag.

“Even though everybody is different, we need to see that,” Thomas said.

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Slayvannah Blackwood performs at a drag show in the Coliseum.
[Photos by Mallory Cammarata]

Thomas comes from a French-creole family and does what his friends call “witchy stuff.” He said that he smudges his house, burning sage to ward off bad spirits. This inspired the “VooDoo” reference in his drag name. The “deja vu” part comes from friends often not recognizing him when they first see him in drag.

“They know me,” Thomas said. “I seem familiar to them, but they can’t quite put their finger on it.”

Deja VooDoo has an avant garde, “screw fashion” approach to drag. She also makes rap music when she isn’t whipping her hair on stage. But ultimately, Thomas is focused on having fun with his drag character.

“Some people take their drag so seriously,” Thomas said. “At the end of the day, you’re just a dude dressing up like a girl.”

Thomas hails from Houston, which he fondly referred to as “the land of Beyonce.” With drag, he found an outlet for his love of theatre while also fundung it easier to cope with his sexuality when others did not accept it.

“Growing up gay, it’s a lot easier to be somebody else than it is to be yourself,” Thomas said.

English sophomore John Collins took the stage as Slayvannah Blackwood. In 2016, she won “Miss Kerr Hall,” another student drag show hosted at UNT.

Collins said his drag has gotten better since then because he got kicked out of his parents’ house for being gay over the summer.

“I’ve just decided to inspire people through my pain and through the message that I’m about to send,” Collins said.

Slayvannah danced while she lip synced to a Beyonce medley in a red dress with a tulle skirt that she eventually tore off. Near the end of the performance, people with signs saying things like “She the People,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Trans Lives Matter” emerged from the audience.

“I like to perform as well as inspire and to show people you can be who you are,” Collins said. “Your identity, to you, matters. It should matter throughout the world.”

Collins has also noticed the problem of racism and drag. He said he believes black queens are held to a higher standard than white queens, but they are also criticized when they do too much.

“Black queens and black gays get shoved under the rug for being too extra or too out there,” Collins said.

Integrative studies freshman Bailey Anderson took the stage as Trisha Delish, who he described as a psychotic housewife. Trisha entered the stage holding large fans made of feathers. At the end of his performance, he pulled out a rainbow flag that had a Texas star on the side. Trisha and Slayvannah tied for second runner-up.

“[Trisha is] the confidence I’ve always had but never knew how to use,” Anderson said.

Anderson first became interested in drag in seventh grade. After turning 18, he started performing in clubs. He regularly performs at Glitterbomb on Thursdays at Andy’s Bar and won Crossroads Bar’s drag pageant in December.

“It was finally something that was going to be a collective of all the different ways I’m creative and the things I like to do,” Anderson said.

He said that drag has been an important part of the LGBT rights movement since it began.

“Drag is an expression of gender expectations,” Anderson said. “For a lot of people, it’s an expression of creativity that they never felt they got expressed just right.”

Although the drag show focused on the importance of racial representation, the queens and those involved believe it can act as everything from an artistic political statement, to creating a fun space where people can feel comfortable being who they want to be.

“Drag can be very liberatory in letting us all feel more empowered to be our extravagant selves,” Sylvester said.

Featured Image: Performers from UNT’s drag show stand together on stage after the winner and runners up are announced. The show was hosted by Aja and organized by University Program Council, Residence Hall Association and Pride Alliance. Mallory Cammarata

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Camila Gonzalez

Camila Gonzalez

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