Drag show provides a fabulous evening

Dancing and performances at Pride Union's Totally Fabulous IX Drag Show Finals brings plenty of entertainment to SU.

Glitter, condoms, money and even some clothing went flying at Pride Union’s IX Totally Fabulous Drag Show Finals at the Goldstein Auditorium in Schine on Friday night.

Backstage, the excitement turned to anticipation as performers and their back-up dancers got ready to go on-stage.

“I’m really excited but nervous. This is my first drag show,” said Paula Jordan, a communications and rhetorical studies senior.  But her first experience with drag, she said, has been special.

Photo: Maddy Jones
Jen Derbender and her backup dancers strike the final pose of their performance that won Smith the title "Queen of the Hill."

“It was really interesting to explore that other form of dance and culture. It really opened my mind,” she said.

Jordan was a backup dancer for Terance Smith, a communications and rhetorical studies senior, whose classic 1950s housewife act as “Jen Derbender” won the Drag Queen competition.

Smith said his performance was bittersweet because it was his last, but he hoped to make it his best.

“My friends and I try to put something that is show-worthy on,” he said.  “I’m going to bring you a story, not just a performance.”

Nick Deyo, a television, radio and film junior has participated in Pride Union’s Drag Show every year since he was a freshman.  Feeding off energy from the crowd, he said, is what makes the performance amazing.

“I mean the choreography is one thing,” he said, “but the passion behind it is really what’s going to sell it.”

There was great excitement and anticipation from the waiting crowd, especially for the host of the evening, Pandora Boxx, finalist on the reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race and a local performer from Rochester.

“I’m definitely here to see Pandora Boxx,” said Christopher Perrello, a communication and rhetorical studies graduate student. “Because as I watched the show [RuPaul’s Drag Race] she’s someone I really looked up to, especially since she’s from Rochester.”

As the show began, the audience was encouraged to come up to the stage and tip contestants for their performance.  The crowd was especially generous to Windz, a second local guest performer, whose dancing and way with the ladies left the stage covered in bills.  He even earned a tip from K.J. Issacs, one of the only openly gay DPS officers.

Their ability to please the crowd was not the only thing the contestants were judged on, but also their energy, choreography and music choices.  Three guest judges gave out criticism, compliments and final decisions for winners at the end of the night.

But there could be no real losers, said Jessica Ortiz, an environmental policy senior.

“Everybody here worked really hard because they’re proud of who they are,” she said. “I’m happy they’re proud to be who they are.”

In between contestants the crowd was also entertained by Pandora Boxx as she bantered playfully with the very vocal crowd.  Her performances, which included butt-stuffing and a large Flavor Flav style clock, kept the crowd going.

Nick Haas, outreach coordinator for Pride Union and stand-in host during Pandora Boxx’s costume changes, also brought energy to the crowd and even a short striptease.

During intermission, members of AIDS Community Resource Center, which offers testing for HIV/AIDS and STDs, entertained the audience and threw condoms into the crowd.

Two Queens, two Kings and two troupes competed to be Queen, King and Troupe of the Hill.

Performances included backup dancers for Drag Queen “RuBeyBey” jumping into the crowd, troupe “Double Rainbow” lip-synching to Cee Lo Green’s “F---- You” and Drag King “Jack Daily” wooing a girl with a little help from Elvis Presley.

Joannah Fine, an environmental biology junior, said contestants taking on these roles made her rethink the concept of gender.

“I feel like it’s made me question what gender really is,” she said. “I’m really proud of people pushing boundaries of what is ‘normal.’”

Duo “Biggie Smalls” and King “Gentle Gentleman” joined Drag Queen “Jen Derbender” in the winner’s circle.

All the tips made by performers, as well as 65 percent of the money from ticket sales will go to charity, according to Nick Haas, Pride Union’s Out Reach Coordinator.  The Q Center, Sage Upstate and the Queering Educational Research Institute (QuERI) will all receive donations.

“Last year we gave to Haiti and a place in New York City,” said Haas. “This year we thought, why not give back to the community?”

Some proceeds may also go to the Japan Relief Fund.


This is a fabulous writeup of the event!  Thank you for your progressive angle and attention to the programs that the event funded. 

Much love,

Savanna K. (Jack Dailey)

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