Performers in fake facial hair, dramatic make-up, large hair, and high heels danced on stage, lip-synching to songs of their choice while attendees threw them single dollar bills.
Around 200 people attended the annual drag event, presented by OUTSpoken, in the North Ballroom of the Bernhard Center on Wednesday, April 9.
This year’s drag show event was titled “Evolution of Drag” and was hosted by drag queen Dolly Dion. Judging the contestant were Denise Brown, John Mark-Cuarto, Jay Maddock and David Topping.
The drag performers were Western Michigan University students and community members from Kalamazoo and surrounding cities.
One of the performing drag queens, Dakota Everett Main, said he jumped on the opportunity to perform at WMU as soon as he was asked.
“When I heard that there was a show going on at Western Michigan I was like ‘of course,’” Main said, who goes by the drag name Donatella. “I always love doing college shows because there’s always such a liveliness with the crowd.”
Another performer that was awarded was WMU student Maddie Reed, who is a senior majoring in athletic training. Reed won “Best Drag King”, and goes by the drag name MCM.
Reed won the same title at last year’s drag show, when she entered as a joke.
“Honestly, I feel better [this year]. I was fortunate enough to win in to last year and the response from everyone is just overwhelming,” Reed said.
One of the judges, Jay Maddock, who performs as GQ Joe, praised Reed’s performance.
“For Jay to say what he did, who used to perform as GQ Joe, everyone around this city knows who that it and he’s such a fantastic performer for him to say that I below his performances out of the water,” Reed said. “That is the highest praise I have ever gotten. I never imagined it would be anything like this.”
At the end of April, MCM will perform in Detroit, and will do a few shows in May in Grand Rapids, Reed said.
“Classes will be ending. I’ll need something to keep me out of trouble,” Reed said.
OUTSpoken started planning the Evolution of Drag in February, according to Sarah Neff, vice president of the organization.
Neff, a fourth year psychology major, said the committee met for several months to decide on a time and place, as well as contacting performers.
The purpose of Evolution of Drag was to be a fun event, but drag is also an important part of history in the LBGT community, Neff said.
“The stonewall riot was a big thing that kind of kicked off LBGT rights movement and gay liberation movement,” Neff said. “That was a lot of transgender individuals and drag queens who rioted against the police when the police kept raiding the Stonewall Inn.”
Neff said OUTspoken likes to recognize that history and “appreciate all the rich history drag has to offer.”
“Plus,” Neff added. “It’s just fun to let students perform and get up there and show us what they got.”
Six performers were awarded titles:
- Best Costume: “Charli Chap-em”
- Best Choreography: “The Queen DivaByotch and the Royal Dancers” Darren Tilles, Erika Donner, Shanice Eaton
- Best Group: “Will Smith and his Lovely Lady” Izzy Rocs and Avery Green
- Best Drag King: “MCM” Maddie Reed
- Best Queen: “Donatella” Dakota Everett Main
- Best Performance: “Yolanda Fierce”