By Maggie Kleiner
Local drag made a show-stopping comeback this weekend at Spectrum’s Drag Queen Bingo event. The prizes were grand, the tables were packed and the audience was ecstatic.
Rider’s LGBTQIA+ club, Spectrum, organized the event, returning drag queens Jolina Jasmine, a well-known professional, and Lexie Legato, a fresh-faced senior Rider musical theater major. Both queens performed at Rider’s Drag Race in September, which was Legato’s first-ever drag performance.
Drag’s uniting nature
As government entities across the country work to ban drag performances, Spectrum works to flaunt them. Executive board members organized the event to break down stereotypes about drag and bring the Rider community together.
Spectrum Communications Director and senior dance performance major Marissa Stellato explained why the event was important to her.
“It’s affirming in the way that it brings a lot of people on campus together that they might not normally be around,” Stellato said.
Ultimately, Spectrum’s drag bingo was more than just an opportunity to win a “Frog and Toad” tote bag or the new Britney Spears book; it was a chance for Rider students to witness drag as a self-expressive art form.
Both drag queens emphasized the significance of hosting these events to foster a safe and inclusive environment.
Jasmine said, “It’s important to have events like this on college campuses because it creates a safe space for all the students on campus who come from all different walks of life.”
As a student herself, Legato, known as Lincoln Funderburk outside of drag, acknowledged how drag performances at Rider can bring communities together.
“Lots of people have never seen people like us or performance venues like this … Exposure is step one of integrating and acceptance,” Legato said.
Beads, blush, and bingo
In between rounds of bingo, the queens executed four stunning performances. Jasmine opened with Adele’s “Rumour Has It,” followed by Legato’s mashup of “Bubblegum Bitch” by MARINA and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl.”
After a few more rounds of bingo, Jasmine lip-synced to an AI Ariana Grande cover of Drake’s “Passionfruit,” and Legato sang her own rendition of “What is a Man?” from the musical “Pal Joey.” Within their playful commentary and stunning performances, Jasmine and Legato gave students a taste of what drag really is.
Jasmine said, “To me, drag means an expression of yourself, an expression of your art, and just putting positivity out there into the world, which is something that I think the world at this moment needs a lot more of.”
Legato’s partner, Jayson Willever, said, “For me it is about courage. … Drag brings out confidence and it just brings out the ability to be who you are.”
Many audience members had never attended drag bingo before and were thrilled to finally gain the experience.
Sophomore accounting major Leila Johnson has learned more about the art of drag since arriving at Rider.
“I really never knew drag before I came to Rider. I knew of it but never actually watched the shows before,” Johnson said.
Sophomore psychology major Itunu Adebayo said that the event helped to “destigmatize a lot of the weird ideas that kind of float around about what a drag queen is.”
Adebayo emphasized that there should be more drag opportunities on campus.
“If drag is something that [students] are interested in, it’s something that’s safe for them to practice and at least show interest in at Rider,” said Adebayo.
Queer art forms at Rider
Spectrum also aimed to recognize the LGBTQIA+ community on campus. By hosting the drag performance, students were introduced to an underrepresented art form in mainstream media.
Freshman political science major Nick Smith said, “I think it’s really important to have events like this at Rider to really highlight queer art forms.”
Freshman communications major Trevor Janusas agreed, adding that “everyone just thinks it’s the bigger drag queens, but local drag is deeply important to the entire drag community.”
Sarah Dickstein, secretary of Spectrum and junior psychology major, said, “It’s affirming because it brings a lot of the culture to campus … I feel like we don’t get enough of that.”
Drag Bingo awarded lucky winners with prizes ranging from a Starbucks gift card to a Taylor Swift “Eras” pillow. To conclude the night, Jasmine and Legato performed a spontaneous lip-sync duet to “Side to Side” by Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. Spectrum executive board members left the audience in anticipation by announcing their “Spectrum Soiree,” an event to come this March.
Tristan E. M. Leach is a section editor for The Rider News and president of Spectrum. Leach had no part in the writing or editing of this story.