As I found my front row seat at Marymount Manhattan College’s first ever drag show, I couldn’t help but smile. The venue — our Regina Peruggi Room — has never filled with people so quickly. The eighty people allowed in (due to fire safety rules) were seated in their chairs with twenty minutes to spare before the show actually started. A queen’s playlist was rightfully booming through the speakers and everyone was yelling the words to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
With Lady Gaga’s politically-charged halftime show a little more than a week behind us, the students at Marymount — queens and audience members alike — were fueled with feminine energy and ready to get the show on the road. As the lights went off, Romello Rodriguez, a sophomore and member of the Campus Activity Board, sauntered into the room in thigh-high, bright, white, high-heel boots. The fans screamed and hollered and clapped for minutes on end. Rodriguez welcomed us here, saying, “We wanted it to be a celebration of drag culture,” and what a celebration it was.
The night opened with a drag queen by the name of F!tta le Con, who did an act called, “Welcome to my Malibu.” As one of the most energetic acts of the night, F!tta was up and down the runway countless times, her black, curly hair getting whipped in a dozen directions. I was blown away. The entire audience was blown away. How are human beings able to do this? What does it mean to them to be able to do this? In a time where human rights are on the line in the courts of America, being a drag queen and experiencing a drag show is so important. After the show, F!tta told me what drag meant to her:
“You can really show off your glamorous side. You can be fierce and you can say what you want to say. When you’re a queen, you can do anything. Womanhood, you know?”
Womanhood, of course, I knew. Being a woman is one of the best and scariest things you can be in today’s world. With a pussy-grabber in the White House and catcalling construction workers on every New York City street whistling at you, being a woman isn’t an easy job. These queens truly showed Marymount what being a woman is. You have to deal with everything America throws at you and everything America takes away from you. Being a woman is also empowering. Women aren’t here to just enjoy the ride of life or to sit here and be eye candy for men. Women are here to tell the people who oppress us that we aren’t going anywhere at all. We were here when America was founded and we will be here when America is no more and we all deserve equality. Host Romello Rodriguez (and one of the wonderful people who had a big part in making this happen) said it best about halfway through the show:
“This show has taught me the meaning of what it is to be a queen. A queen does not just beat her face and walk. A queen is someone who knows they have the right to be here. A queen knows [Donald Trump] doesn’t have the right to take our rights.”
Venus de Faux and Billie Joe Armstrong kept the energy up as the show progressed after F!tta performed. Venus (pictured below with freshmen Leeann Minard and Lucy Thomas) was decked out in jewels from her forehead to her heels while Billie Joe grabbed the attention of every person in the room by completing not one, but FIVE cartwheels in the “American Idiot” act. These two very different performances back to back showed the dynamic of the drag culture and kept the audience on our feet. If singles could’ve been given out, they would’ve all gone to these two beautiful performers.
Jenna Fitz (who is pictured in this article's lead image) was the next queen to take the stage, and what a performance she gave us. Strutting to Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” she brought out another performer, Peter — who tore her turquoise dress straight off halfway through the number to reveal another wonderful ensemble of a little, black skirt and matching bra. (This was also after Jenna Fitz snatched her own wig from her head to display yet ANOTHER WIG — which gave everyone in the audience heart palpitations. This queen brought the house down with a sensual ballad and a hot performance which showcased her unique and amazing talents.
Every single performer was filled with electricity, and the crowd went wild every few seconds. Esmierda Dela Barrio performed after Jenna Fitz and continued to blow everyone by starting her number in a pretty conservative outfit and stripping down to booty shorts and a crop top to show us her wild side. She was up and down the runway working everything she had. It’s queens like Esmierda who inspire other people through the art of drag. Lucy Thomas, a Marymount student and drag-queen lover summed it up pretty well:
"Drag queens make me feel like I can do anything. They're so powerful and strong and beautiful and they live for themselves and no one else."
The final queens of the night, Shay D’Pines and Angel Elektra came out after Esmierda blew the roof off of the Regina Peruggi Room. These two were perfect to close the drag section of the show and immediately stole everyone’s hearts with their thrilling act. Their matching dresses and mesmerizing hairography was the cherry on top of everything. Infamous Unit — Marymount's dance and step team — closed the night with a tremendous and complicated dance to Kanye, Beyonce, and other music gods in a giant remix of a ton of bumping jams. They were the ideal club to team up with because their energy didn't struggle against any of the drag show's energy. The drag queens and Infamous Unit complimented each other in the best way.
Marymount Manhattan College is a place where everyone is accepted. The fact that we put on a successful drag show says a lot about the community at this school. I think I speak for everyone when I say thank you. Thank you to the Campus Activity Board and the office of Student Development and Activities for putting this all together and for letting the drag culture that is so prominent at Marymount be displayed. I am proud to go to a school where so many beautiful people are allowed to be who they were meant to be.
Here’s to next year’s drag show!
Lead Image Credit: Claire Hubble