With glitz, glamour and gender nonconformity, University of Northern Colorado students and invited performers brought the true meaning of drag to the stage Tuesday night.
Spectrum is UNC’s student organization for gender, romantic and sexual identities. The organization hosted its eighth annual drag show, a type of performance where entertainers dress and act as a different gender. The performances typically include lip-syncing to pop songs with coordinating choreography and/or a comedy routine. The hosts this year were Jessica L’Whor, who has hosted the show for the past three years, and Khrys’ Taal, who hosted for the first time. This year’s theme was “Genderflux.” The theme represents the mixing of traditional masculine and feminine elements into the participants’ performances; the theme could be expressed through clothing or song choice.
“We really wanted to do something kind of different with the show and really just highlight that drag is not a binary,” said Harrison Pettis, co-president of Spectrum. “People kind of think it is as either drag king or drag queen. But there is a lot of interesting things happening in a lot of different drag circles, kind of messing with the perception and really just playing with the concept of gender, in general, as well as what drag can be.”
Jessica L’Whor supported this idea of creative freedom with drag as she addressed the audience.
“Drag is so expressive and freeing and you don’t have to identify with any kind of gender or sexuality orientation or body type,” L’Whor said. “If you’re like ‘Oh I can’t dance,’ ‘Oh I’m not funny,’ ‘Oh I can’t wear heels’ well then make it work. You don’t have to wear heels, you don’t have to dance, you can by funny, you can be crazy, you can be scary.”
Donations were received in the form of tips. These tips could be handed to various volunteers, thrown onstage to show appreciation for the performers or given to the hosts in Jessica L’Whor’s question game “Ask-A-L’Whor.”
Funds raised at the drag show went towards the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center Fund and Spectrum’s spring event, Queer Prom. According to Stephen Loveless, the director of the GSRC, the GSRC Fund goes towards a scholarship for LGBTQ students who may need the money to go towards to school and living costs in the event they get kicked out of their home or other emergencies. The drag show benefit received a total of $720.
Loveless, after explaining where the proceeds for the event go towards, explained that the show would try to keep it PG-13. The two drag queens quickly dropped the ball on that promise following with a show filled with expletives and sexual innuendos, to the audience’s great delight.
“Ask-A-L’Whor” was used as a way to clear up misconceptions and answer questions in a frank and honest manners to help expand the knowledge of drag culture for the, as Jessica L’Whor playfully dubbed, drag “virgins.” These questions spanned from techniques and tips to more personal questions, sexual and otherwise. Khrys’ Taaal answered questions for the audience as well.
The more technical questions focused on the cost and creativity of being a drag performer. The audience learned a number of the various nuances of drag. To keep a wig on while dancing takes glue, bobby pins and an acceptance that hair may be lost in the process. The fake breasts sported by Jessica L’Whor are worn like a “lobster bib” and typically costs $400 to $700. Jessica L’Whor additionally explained how drag queens “tuck,” assuring that there would be no visual presentation. Tucking is an optional process of using duct tape, saran wrap and padding to hide external genitalia and give the illusion of the stereotypical woman.
Other elements of the show included a game where audience volunteers were placed into teams for each host and pitted against each other in a dance battle to classic songs like “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Khrys’ Taal’s team won with fierce competition.
The UNC student performers went by their drag names: Sweet Potato, Sia Incort, Candice Pussypop, Sugar Willow and Zimmorah Mei. Each of their performances consisted of some element of the theme, generally choosing to challenge the idea of gender with their costumes. Many of the performers got creative with their performances, with costume transformations, cartwheels, standing on the VIP tables and doing death drops, a classic drag move of falling to the floor with style. Their songs included “Praying” by Kesha, “Hand Clap” by Fitz and the Tantrums and “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga. Sia Incort, Sweet Potato and Sugar Willow got to perform twice.
The professional drag queens, the two hosts and guest Angie Chanel, all performed. Jessica L’Whor performed to “When Love Takes Over” by David Guetta and Kelly Rowland in a blue outfit that went through two transformations. Angie Chanel performed two classic drag performances with songs “On the Floor” by Jennifer Lopez and “Vanity” by Christina Aguilera. Khrys’ Taaal’s performance were personally remixed. One performance of hers, the last of the night, included a boombox as a prop where she performed a variety of songs as she “changed radio stations.”