Why be a Drag? When You Can be a Queen or King.
On the night of Tuesday May 23rd, students gathered at the Rock Creek auditorium for the QRC’s (Queer Resource Center) Drag Ball Fundraiser. The fundraiser was to replenish the QSA (Queer Straight Alliance) funds that were spent on the group’s new mural. The event itself was free, so their money was made on tips that students gave to performers they liked, raffles to have your own opportunity to perform, and auctioned items, which included anything from gift cards to prideful “potato chip” scarves and beautifully hand crafted bow ties made by talented QRC members.
The minute students walked in, they were seated and given complimentary snack bags. Everyone sat on the edge of their seats, cheez-its in hand, ready for the show. The crowd erupted in applause as Max Santiago (stage name: Ash M Storm), Education and Outreach Coordinator for the QRC, took the stage in jeans, cowboy boots, a plaid shirt, and a charming straw cowboy hat.
Santiago took the mic and gave a loud welcome. After rattling off the list of activities for the night. Then they introduced the first emcee, someone who They gave the endearing title of Their “Drag Mama.” That’s when she came out from backstage. Her green dress so glittery you could go blind watching her glide across the stage. Ms. Ivory Cox.
“It also helps with having an outlet to keep me from exploding from anger. I will speak truth to power with humor.”
“I’m so blessed” whispered student Capri Sullivan, clutching her heart as confident Cox strutted to Santiago and yelled “Gimme my mic!”
Cox then began her introduction of the second emcee of the night: “I’d like introduce the king with the sexiest gyrating hips, Mr. Bruce TK King!”
I’m Gonna Live Till I Die by Frank Sinatra came over the speakers as King jumped out from behind the stage in a dapper tuxedo. The crowd went wild as he crossed the stage lip-syncing every word perfectly including spot on hand gestures and facial expressions.
The night was underway.
The next to perform were the solo artists, the first of the solo contestants, who won the solo portion of the contest, and got the crowd hootin and hollering to her rendition of Baby Got Back. The second solo contestant performing for the very first time, Ms. Labrodite, sang a song from the show Steven Universe called “Be Wherever You Are.”
The final contestant, Mr. Katastrophic, roused us with a soulful air guitar to the song Juke Box Hero by Foreigner.
Then we were launched into the group performances which included a poppin’ Rocky Horror performance, and a snazzy cat dance to a K-Pop tune. Both groups received star shaped trophies.
After the first round, a five-minute intermission was had so that viewers could have the chance to pay for raffle to nominate themselves and friends to have the opportunity to perform in front of their friends and family.
The two raffle winners were Christine Nguyen who wore a flapper and sang along to Whoops I Did It Again by Britney Spears, and student body president Ivan Hernandez (Stage name: Jolena) who had everyone in tears with his performance of Loca by Shakira.
“As the night began to wind down, the audience was greeted with a heartwarming performance by Bruce TK King and his wife Divia Destina that ended with a kiss and several aww’s.”
After the number, King bellowed “well we need to end on a high note!” and ended the show by inviting all participants and audience members to dance the YMCA.
Everyone left with smiles on their face and goodies.
After the show, I approached King and asked him if he had any advice for all the drag babies (new drag performers) out there.
“Start by performing songs you love and know already,” said King, “It takes away from the anxiety, and makes your performance more enjoyable to you and your audience.”
When I asked how drag is more important now than ever given our political climate under Agent Orange, King ended with some words of wisdom: “Drag is a type of resistance that looks frivolous, but all kinds of performers are choosing musical numbers that refute the damage people have done to our beautiful country. It also helps with having an outlet to keep me from exploding from anger. I will speak truth to power with humor.”
Thank you to Max Santiago and all students and faculty who made Drag Ball 2017 possible. It was a wonderful fun filled event that many students including myself would love to see again.