Drag 101


Serena Fuegatati (Huy Do) with Chardonnay White (Courtney Dam) after the show.

Ysabela Golden, Laker Life Editor

Traditionally, final exams are a somber affair. You study, you procrastinate studying, you wish you had done more of the former than the latter, and then you scream internally over a piece of paper for the better part of an hour. But for students taking the one credit class WGS 180, the process involved considerably fewer essay questions and considerably more strangers cheering them on as they demonstrated what they’d learned over the course of their shortened semester.

“WGS 180 is a class that covers the theory of drag, the activist history of drag performance, and the practical aspects of drag production,” explained Professor Jae Basiliere. “All of the students in the class learned the basics of developing a drag performance, including developing a drag persona, choosing music and learning how to lipsync. From there, the class split, and some students worked on fully developing a drag performance while others focused on the stage production aspects of a drag show.”

That show, performed in Kirkhof Center’s Area 51, took place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24. The small theater was positively packed. Audience members who hadn’t been able to fit inside dragged over chairs from the food court dining area to create a makeshift hallway of seats lining up past the entrance, so performers working the crowd had a highway through the overflow of spectators. 

The two masters of ceremonies, one in a suit and tie and another in an extravagantly large fur coat, opened the evening with an appropriately groan-inducing pun, “hopefully this show won’t be a drag,” after a short introduction from their professor. The puns only got worse from there, but the show immediately picked up pace with a high-kicking performance to “A Natural Woman.” Drag shows may or may not be legally required to feature this song at least once during their runtime, but performer “Mary Con,” who definitely did not come across as someone who had only just learned the basics of drag, kicked it out of the park.

The night continued with performances from a number of charmingly outlandish personas. There was “Jack Honor,” who lip synced a Bowling For Soup song about girls not liking nice guys while brandishing a textbook of media decked out in a beard made out of green glitter and a “Rick and Morty” t-shirt; “Chardonnay White,” who literally shone as she danced to Rhianna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” in a ruffled open chest suit coat and body glitter; “Diamond Powers,” whose ponytail was so long that it whipped almost as hard as the ringleader’s tassel whip she brought out to perform “Circus” by Brittney Spears; “Miss Dorothy Grey,” whose dancing to “Liquid Lunch” got progressively drunker as she drank her way through a prop martini glass, drinking flask, and bottle of wine; the bombacious “Juicyy,” who managed to dance in a dark theatre to nearly all of Alaska Thunderfuck’s “Puppet” while wearing sunglasses before dramatically tossing them away to reveal some truly spectacular eye shadow; and “Serena Fuegatati,” who showed beyond a doubt that wearing layers is truly the Chekov’s gun of drag performance (if a drag queen in introduced wearing a kimono, the kimono must be swinging over her head by the second act).

Entry to the show was free, though attendees were encouraged to bring tips for the artists. The cheering parents in the front row were far from the only audience members to slip dollar bills to performers as they danced by — Diamond Powers collected enough tips to “make it rain” on herself twice during her first performance. Some performers returned for more after an impromptu lip syncing competition that gave them time to change costumes, included Mary Con, who ended the night with more high kicks in a shimmering black one piece that probably could have struck a pang of envy from a contestant on “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”

“I am so, so proud of the work they all did,” said Basiliere.

Though there are currently no plans to teach the course next year, Basiliere says that may change in the future.