Rainbow lights and glitter shined bright at the drag show in the Ostrander Auditorium Wednesday, put on annually by MSU’s LGBT Center.
A drag show is a type of entertainment in which drag artists impersonate men or women. A drag show typically consists of performers singing or lip-syncing to songs while doing a pre-planned pantomime or dancing. There may also include comedy, sketches and audience participation.
Stephen Thomas, interim director of the LGBT Center, said he thinks going to drag shows is a great way for students to escape.
“Drag is just a great form of entertainment, and if students are looking for a way just to escape the reality of their academic work stress, go to a drag. It’s meant to be fun and a nice break from everything,” said Thomas. “It’s also great for people who are not a part of the community to kind of just have a fun time and get to kind of see different parts of what entertainment is.”
Each performer was introduced by Thomas, dressed up in drag as Princess Blue Rose. Their performance lasted around five minutes and was walking into the crowd and interacted with the audience. They did two different sets and had an outfit change for each one.
Some of the performers at the event are from Drag Me With A Spoon, the premier drag show production company in Mankato.
Wanda Gag, one of the performers this year, lip-synced and danced to the live cover of “Luck Be A Lady” by Lady Gaga featuring The Brian Newman Quintet and “Love Shack” by The B-52’s.
“This is actually the name of my great, great aunt. Wanda Gág is also the name of a children’s book author and illustrator from New Ulm and an active feminist in the 1920s. She loved her cats, her houseplants, and her chosen family, and I relate to that,” said Gag. “My dad always joked that if I had been born a girl, I would have been named Wanda, so it was kind of perfect.”
Gag wanted to do drag for a while but initially was unable to do so.
“I had wanted to do drag since I was in high school and into college, but since I was a student working two jobs and didn’t have a car, performing just wasn’t an option for me,” said Gag. “Once the pandemic hit, I had so much free time and more money from a better-paying job that I decided to just go for it. I got to spend an entire year just working makeup, outfits, and wigs from the comfort of my home so that when things finally reopened in 2021, I was ready to make my live performance debut.”
There were a bunch of people in the audience cheering along to the performances. Beekah Madia Russell, who is the program advisor and summer operations coordinator in residential life, was one of those members and said she enjoyed the performance.
“It was very fun, a lot of energy in the room. A lot of amazing people and a lot of people having fun,” said Russell. “Anytime there’s a drag show around I always make time for it. I think it’s a lot of fun. I love seeing energy like it could be people just living their best life doing what they want to do. And it’s just a really good about people to be so
If students are unsure about doing drag because they are not queer, Gag said he thinks anyone can do drag.
“Drag is seriously for everyone; young people, old people, queer people, trans folks, cis folks and even straight people as long as you do it with respect,” said Gag. “Anyone can do it, so just pick up some makeup, grab a costume wig and a dress and come feel the fantasy with us. If you like it, just keep practicing and honing your craft and let’s have fun together!”
Gag also offered advice for those afraid to come out.
“Just know it does get better. I know that is so cliche and you probably hear it all the time, but it seriously does. You have allies everywhere around you, you just might not know it yet,” said Gag. “The LGBT Center on campus is a fabulous place to make friends, get any help you need, and to just feel safe. The professors and advisors on campus are seriously so cool and will be there if you need them. If nothing else, I’m rooting for you.”
Header photo: Drag performers of all styles and shticks gathered in Ostrander Auditorium for a drag show last night, to the loud cheers and constant applause of the packed audience. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
Write to Lauren Viska at firstname.lastname@example.org