Drag queens perform in annual show
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 22:10
Amid ear-splitting applause and screeching cheers, a black curtain parted and out sauntered a sparkling figure. Sherry Vine, a drag queen from New York City, strutted across the stage and once she reached the edge, jumped up in the air before gracefully sliding into a split on the ground in front of the crowd.
Junior Cristina Cruz has previously attended shows and says she returned because the performers are so entertaining.
“It’s hot outfits and beautiful women,” Cruz says. “They have better legs than mine.”
Haven, the student-led L.G.B.T support club on campus, organized the eleventh annual Blue Hen Drag Show, cosponsored by Student Centers Programming Advisory Board.
On Friday night, about 600 people filled the Trabant Multipurpose Rooms at 7 p.m. to see performances by professional drag queens, Some drag queens were native Delawareans, but others traveled from Chicago and New York City.
Each drag performance was different, ranging from lip synching popular Katy Perry or Nicki Minaj songs, lip synching original parodies of popular songs to acting out raunchy comedy.
Alum Kelly Rourke says she has attended nine Haven-sponsored drag shows and says this year’s event was one of the best she’s seen.
“I keep coming back because I love it so much,” Rourke says. “They do a good job, and they’ve definitely gotten more put together over the years.”
Performers include Delaware alumni, like Anita Mann who graduated in 1996 from the honors program. Since then, Mann has performed drag for about 14 years and done the university drag show for four years.
As a student, Mann was president of Queer Campus, an organization before Haven was established at the university, that worked to provide a safe space for gay students on campus.
Wearing a skin-tight red jumpsuit sprinkled with silver rhinestones, she says she continues to perform at the Blue Hen drag show because of the fun, appreciative nature of the crowd and the quality of the show.
“It’s a very enthusiastic crowd, and with a great turnout this year,” Mann says. “I also think what we do breaks down a lot of stereotypes. What we do, it really is a form of theater, and we take it very seriously.”
Cedric Steenberghs, Haven president, says the group’s main goals are to promote a safe space for queer students on campus as well as address policy that affects the L.G.B.T community.
The drag show is held to raise money for Haven and co-sponsors and to spread awareness about LGBT issues to the university community, Steenberghs says.
“The show draws people in; most attendees are straight, and we want more straight allies,” Steenberghs says. “It’s really about exposing people to a world they haven’t seen before.”
Performers like Sherry Vine also say drag shows go beyond entertainment and actually educate audiences about an aspect of gay culture. Vine, a drag queen from Chicago who has worked in the business for 5 years, says she often sees people who have never attended a show or seen a drag queen up close.
“I meet so many guys and girls who have never seen a drag queen in person; they’ve never been so close to one,” Vine says. “Girls like us break the tradition and the fear. We do more than just perform, we educate.”
Many attendees stayed behind after the show to meet performers. Attendees waited as long as 20 minutes to meet Manila Luzon, who was a contestant on the third season of RuPaul’s All Star Drag Race.
Dalian Simpson, winner of Haven’s spring Blue Hen Drag Show, waited to meet Luzon after the show. Simpson, an amateur drag queen, also performed on stage during the show lip synching a Beyoncé song. He said although he doesn’t want to be a drag queen professionally, it was still a rewarding experience.
“It took me a month to find the clothes for this outfit, and weeks of watching music videos over and over,” Simpson says. “But it was worth it. Who doesn’t want to be Beyoncé at one point in their life?”