Student and guest performers delight and impress at Pride Union's 12th Annual Totally Fabulous Drag Show

On Friday night, Syracuse University Pride Union hosted its yearly student drag show. The night was MC'd by celebrity drag queen Shangela Laquifa Wadley, and consisted of several high-energy acts from student drag queens and kings.

The 12th Annual Totally Fabulous Drag Show finals were held Feb. 21 in the Goldstein Auditorium. The auditorium was packed with eager students and Syracuse residents.

The show was hosted by Pride Union, an undergraduate LGBTQA organization that supports and advocates for students at Syracuse University and State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Katie Farr, the organization's public relations director, said that she likes drag culture because it ensures that people “don’t have to be afraid anymore and can express themselves in whatever way”.

Photo: Katy Beals
Rachel "Babyface" Card, President of Pride Union, reacts to host Shangela Laquifa Wadley's kind words about their friendship.

The host for the evening was Shangela Laquifa Wadley, a famous contestant from seasons two and three of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She walked onto stage in a floor length dress and immediately set the tone for the night: She was funny and dynamic, full of quick quips and playful monologues. She welcomed audience participation, inviting spectators to come up to the catwalk and present the performers with money.

“We’re like the drive through at Popeyes baby: just keep turning through” Shangela said to the audience. Then a few students ran up to hand her dollar bills.

The energy levels were high, with music blasting, and enthusiastic performers. Quinn Cartelli, a sophomore at SU, had only positive things to say about the show.

“I really admire people who can go up and put it all out there” she said. The audience remained engaged and involved throughout the show, and even during the ten minute intermission the energy levels stayed high as music blasted and people danced in the crowd.

The performers had parallel mentalities. “Whatever insecurities, unsureness you have — it’s coming out. It’s going to be out there, it’s going to be wild, it’s going to be crazy, it’s going to make you feel uncomfortable. But it’s going to be fun,” said Tyler Hartwell, a senior at SU. Hartwell is a returning performer and explained why drag culture was so popular, and why it was important to raise awareness about this part of the community. He performed as Tanya Tatone — the second place winner of the night. She said that a lot of her friends, who love her and accept her for who she is, don’t know a lot about drag or even LGBT culture. She described the event as educational but entertaining.

 “It’s definitely more for entertainment, but it’s also a lifestyle, so you can’t make the assumption that just because people are in drag that they are there to entertain or be entertaining for you,” Tatone said. “So it’s a good balance. I guess the take home message would be: respect, but also enjoy.”

While Tatone had some experience under her belt, first time drag performer, Dante Baldassin, a freshman at Syracuse, had an equally positive experience with drag culture.

“When you’re a different person you don’t need to follow the rules of society,” Baldassin said. “You just be who you want to be”

Baldassin’s drag personality was Donyella Dupree — the first place winner. She walked onto stage in high heels, a short dress, and perfectly coiffed hair and thoroughly impressed the judges and mesmerized the audience with her dance routine to a compilation of Beyoncé songs.

To close out the night, Alyssa Edwards — another guest performer and former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race — gave a performance as well as Shangela. The audience danced and sang along to both performances. The night ended with the announcement of the winners and a shout out to Pride Union for hosting the evening.

The essence of the night was captured in Shangela’s closing words: “Just be yourself.”

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