Drag performers soar out of this world

The dressing room is filled with cosmetics and wigs as kings and queens get ready for their show. Some nervous performers are passing around a plush sheep, holding it for a few seconds to calm their nerves. In the background, Patrick Knavel the former president of UAF’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) suddenly shouts “sexy” as they see some of the performers in full drag.

Penny Dragful as Amethyst from cartoon show Steven Universe. / Ben Ellis

GSA took students beyond the stars with their space-themed drag show Saturday, April 7. Aliens made an appearance, alongside performers inspired by shows such as “Star Trek” or “Steven Universe,” while music blared and strobe lights flared in the background.

“We felt like having anything based on spacey kind of items would be applicable to our show. Plus making it as LGBT-friendly as possible,” said GSA President Ricky Hines, while discussing the setup for the show.

Sara Tonin getting ready in the dressing room before the show. / Ben Ellis

Starting at 7 p.m. in the Wood Center Ballroom, over a dozen kings and queens strutted their stuff to the cheers of the audience. After each performance, dollar bills were strewn across the stage as students threw tips to the performers, while more tips were stuffed down bras or pants of artists. For those audience members unable to reach the stage, one king, Fort Dick, strolled through the audience collecting tips for the king or queen performing.

Many of these performances involved the king or queen in question dancing and lip-syncing to songs by artists such as Justin Timberlake, Muse, or the theme from the aforementioned “Steven Universe.” One queen in particular, Sara Tonin, instead sang a song.

“I was like, what if a ’50’s lounge singer was on the deck of the USS Enterprise? And then I was like, what does my brain need more of? Serotonin,” said Sara Tonin, talking about the inspiration for the name and look of their “dragsona.”

As each performer took to the stage, they were met with tumultuous applause and cheers with many earning a standing ovation afterwards. This was particularly true for Eris Contraire, who leaped off the stage and landed on their back in what is known as a death drop.

Aurora Whorialis and Julia Wild performing as a duo for the final act of the night. / Ben Ellis

For many audience members, this was the first drag show they had ever been to. At the start, before the first queen performed, Alyssa Quintyne, the former presenter or “empress” of the drag show, handed over the crown to Syd Paulino, the GSA secretary. During this, Alyssa asked the audience to raise their hands if they had ever been to a drag show before, with only a handful of students doing so.

“It was my first drag show; I really liked it. I was blushing half the time, and not really sure how to handle it,” said Gabrielle Camp, a wildlife biology sophomore.

The grand reveal of Sheila von Cox as an alien from beyond the stars. / Ben Ellis

Likewise, students who had been to previous GSA drag shows also enjoyed this year’s offering.

“I thought it was pretty great. This is my third year going, and it’s always great every year,” said Hayden Jones, an interdisciplinary senior.

Both students also expressed an interest in seeing the show again next year.

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