By Contributing Writer Abigail Sampson
On Thursday, October 3rd, the 8th Annual Halloween Drag Show was hosted in part by SAIL, the Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and GenderPunks. The event took place in the UMass Dartmouth Main Auditorium with local headliner Complete Destruction, a returning alumni and past member of 20 Cent Fiction Production Company as master of ceremonies.
The Merriam-Webster definition of “drag queen” is characterized as “a usually gay man who dresses as a woman and performs as an entertainer especially to caricature stereotypically vampish women.” However, the subculture of drag now includes “bio queens” and “drag kings”. Bio queens are assigned female at birth women that create a hyperbolized caricature of traditional femininity, previously referred to as “divas,” and drag kings are those who’s on stage persona represent hyper-sexual men. As the modern world of drag exponentially changes, the modern perception must also be more accommodating.
An amazing turn-out provided thunderous applause during the gothic lip-sync performances, while many audience members even chose to hand cash tips directly to the queens as part of the tradition held in most drag shows held today.
Katie Mac, Senior Sociology Major, was one of the generous tippers that evening. She thoroughly enjoyed the performance, stressing the importance of supporting local drag queens, saying that “They deserve all of our money.”
Financial support is only an extension of the support that queer art needs as a whole. Mac stated, “Especially if you’re straight, you can still enjoy these performances and broaden your perspective.”
Carrying this exact conversation of supporting queer art, Complete Destruction, a former UMass Dartmouth student and professional drag performer, took a moment between songs to talk about the political implications of drag as an art form.
She stated that drag is a “queer protest” against heteronormativity, quipping that these events represent “inclusion for people who often feel excluded”.
Trans and non-binary artists don’t get enough representation in pop culture, in society, and even in the drag community itself, so it is imperative that these queer-friendly spaces exist. For that very reason, Complete invited a cast of diverse performers to showcase their talents for the Angus Bailey Theater.
The opening number was a lip sync of “Willkommen” from the controversial musical, Cabaret. The song was expertly chosen, as characters in Cabaret actively fight against societal backlash through outward self-expression. Even more so, the song was recorded and sung in Complete’s own voice adding another wonderful element to the performance.
The second performer, Taunton local performer, Aly P. Sha, came onstage adorned in a recreation of the classic Hellraiser character, Pinhead. The intersection between drag and horror is a subculture that is often unrepresented in queer spaces. Defying convention and being unapologetically authentic are characteristics that both drag and horror embody and she sought to highlight going as far as to perform a popular drag song “nails” referencing not just the long flashy nails on her hands but also the pins in her head.
The third queen, Onyx, generated generous applause while performing a suggestive dance to Lizzo’s “Juice.” Complete Destruction took time once again to acknowledge the intersectionality between “queerness” and “blackness”. While white queens are more likely to be recognized, black artists pioneered the entire subculture. Bringing attention to the inherent privilege of being white even while in queer spaces demonstrates the importance of social awareness.
Throbb Zombie won over the crowd with their androgynous drag king look, and stunningly creepy rendition of the young boy from “Where the Wild Things Are.” All four queens met with students outside of the auditorium for photo opportunities.
Taina Thevenia, Freshman, attended the event to fulfill a requirement for her mandatory UNV course. However, her experience was far better than a typical homework assignment. She recounted, “I love Rupaul’s Drag Race, and I had never been to a drag show so I thought it would be fun to go! I love it so much, it’s so much fun!” Her sentiments were shared by many.