Men perform in drag to raise money for cancer research

John Modica performs his lip sync routine with a member from the audience.

By Gianluca D’Elia 

For those wondering who they might become if they dressed in drag, five queens decided to find out for themselves. At a jam-packed pub, Rider’s first Drag Race was the semester’s kickoff fundraiser for Relay For Life, on Friday Feb. 10.

Erika Gomez, the Student Entertainment Council’s (SEC) multicultural chair, said she was interested in hosting an event that involved drag, especially since Westminster Choir College hosts an annual drag show. This year’s Drag Race was hosted by one of the leading queens from Westminster’s drag show, junior music education major Emilio Chase.

The contestants included freshman behavioral neuroscience major Caleb Holt with stage name Coco Chanel; freshman English major Sean Hubert as Ginger Snap; senior global supply chain management major Edwin Chogllo as Juanna Bang; junior English major John Modica as Mz. Janet Kegel; and freshman arts administration major Brandon Hines as Noxeema Deluxe.

“When I heard there would be a drag show on this campus, I got so excited,” Modica said. “It’s an amazing tradition, especially in gay subculture, to take part of. It’s a first for me, and it’s a first for Rider, too.”

For most of the queens, dressing up in drag was a new experience, yet they worked the stage and won over the crowd with ease. Some queens already had talents that helped their performances. Holt, who was encouraged by Gomez to join the contest, had never done drag before. However, the lack of experience did not show as Holt opened the show with a fiery Beyoncé medley, complete with fierce dance moves.

“It’s for a good cause, so I figured I had to get down and dirty for it,” Holt said. “I used to dance when I was younger, so my choreography was the only thing I really felt confident in. Drag is more intense than I expected it to be, but it’s so exciting. It’s a different experience.”

Hubert had never done drag before either, but he is a special effects makeup artist.

“I’ve been doing makeup since I was really young because I love Halloween,” said Hubert, who stood out from the other drag queens with a horror-themed costume. “Recently, I’ve been trying to do even more work with it and push the boundaries of what I can do.”

The “race” consisted of four rounds: the individual lip-sync, the Q&A, the catwalk and the “vogue-off.” Then, in true RuPaul’s Drag Race fashion, the entire group did a Lip-Sync Battle. After each queen’s performance, SEC members collected donations from the packed pub for the American Cancer Society.

“I’ve never been much of a performer, but there’s something empowering about putting on a face full of makeup and some high heels and going out there to give everyone a good time,” said Modica. “That’s what is sticking with me from the night — just how much fun I and everyone in the crowd seemed to have.”

Thanks to an exhilarating debut as Mz. Janet Kegel, he landed in first place and received a tiara at the conclusion of the show. Second place went to Noxeema Deluxe, and third went to Coco Chanel.

Brandon Hines and John Modica hug it out after the competition that crowned Modica the winner.

By the end of the night, the queens raised $470 for Relay For Life.

Relay For Life Co-Chair and senior elementary education major Ryleigh Honig said, “We’re so excited the Drag Race was a hit, but the fight isn’t over.”

So far, Rider’s relay teams as a whole have reached a total of about $3,300 in donations, with the goal of reaching $70,000 by the event on March 25.

“If anyone was skeptical about the power of drag before Friday night, I think all of those doubts have been shattered,” said Modica.


Originally printed in the 2/15/17 edition. 

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