By Sarah Siock
With wild wigs, stunning stilettos and fierce performances, drag queens took over the Bart Luedeke Center Theater for the fourth installment of Rider Drag Race on Oct. 2.
The competition kicked off at 7 p.m. with a limited in-person audience while hundreds watched the show via a Facebook livestream.
The show featured three segments: individual lip-sync, runway and a Q & A. The contestants also performed a group lip-sync to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
Senior popular musical major and the Student Entertainment Council Stage Chair Dean Klebonas hosted the event as his drag persona Tye Tot. Klebonas explained the decision for the queens to perform in-person.
“Drag is something that needs a stage. No queen wants to perform a lip-sync in her living room. It’s all about selling it, performing, the bigger the better,” said Klebonas, who planned the event with senior public relations major Janette Bowman.
Throughout the night, Klebonas encouraged viewers to donate to The Okra Project, a charity that is working to end the hunger crisis facing Black transgender people.
The contestants at this year’s Drag Race were junior musical theater major Jack Wood as Vicky Vibrato, freshman musical theater major Luke Ferrari as Alexia Stallion and junior musical theatre major Andrew Smith as Peach Waters. All three queens were first-time competitors, with each stating they began creating their drag personas while self-quarantining during coronavirus lockdowns.
“I am a ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ super fan so, over quarantine, I wanted to learn makeup. To me, drag means love and acceptance. It is a process but once you are in full beat and costume it’s a feeling unlike any other,” said Smith.
Despite all the queens being new to the world of drag, they worked the stage with ease. Ferrari strutted across the stage in 6-inch heels and Smith said it took him three-plus hours to complete his stage-ready look. The competitor’s dedication to their performances spoke to the large crowd Rider Drag Race draws each year.
“Drag is universal, it is for everyone. You never know what will happen at a drag show. It is pure joy and entertainment. Rider Drag Race is also a great learning experience for those who don’t know a lot about what drag is,” said Wood. “I can’t describe what it’s like getting into hair and makeup, it’s like you’re a whole new person. It is a form of expression.”
After all rounds of the competition were complete, a live vote took place. While each of the three drag queens had unique performances that showcased their distinctive personalities, ultimately, Ferrari was crowned the winner as his drag persona Alexia Stallion.
“Drag is one of the most accepting and loving environments to be around. Drag is undeniably one of the hardest things for anyone to do and the fact that the effort and love for it is shown in such a glorious event is so spectacular,” said Ferrari.
Ferrari also explained what drag means to him and the newfound confidence he feels while performing.
“I just graduated from high school and I jumped into drag over quarantine. I love the idea of blurring gender lines. To me, they are a construct that we have been given and I think we are in a time where you should just be who you are,” said Ferrari. “My femininity is something I could not express in high school. Now that I’m out in the world I can be my own person. I finally feel like I can express that part of my life in such a beautiful way.”
Story published in the 10/7/20 edition of The Rider News.