Dozens of members of the Eastern community gathered in the MLK Jr. Union Grand Ballroom to watch the drag perform lip sync and dance on Friday night.
The Student Drag Show was organized by EIU Pride. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, EIU Pride had a drag show every semester. However, due to guidelines in place for the 2020-2021 school year, drag shows were canceled last year.
Tanya Willard is the coordinator of the Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity. She is also director of new student and family programs at Eastern, as well as one of the EIU Pride counselors.
“It was really tough for them last year,” said Willard. “They tried to do it virtually several times. And we couldn’t really get it off the ground.
Atlas Hennegan, a senior graduate in English and Philosophy, is the Vice President of EIU Pride.
“I think it was awesome,” Hennegan said. “It clearly shows that people still care about pride. People still want to support us and still want to go to drag shows. “
At this semester’s show, there were 8 performers: Apollo Device, Nexha, Izack D. Storm, Roxy Flare, Chanel Lanaé, Papa Cock, Mid-West Queen and Lady Lexapro. Some of these artists performed twice during the show.
Luis Paniagua, a senior in graphic design, played the role of Chanel Lanaé during the drag show. He said he liked being on stage.
“It feels really good. We couldn’t do it last year due to COVID so I was feeling very nervous but I got over it because I was like ‘you know what, this is what I love to do ‘”Said Paniagua.
The show also had an MC, who was a sophomore chemistry student Cayleigh Rath. It was Rath’s first time hosting the drag show.
“I thought it was absolutely wonderful,” said Rath. “All the drag kings and queens literally killed him. The crowd was perfectly hyped and was absolutely patient here.
Daniel Robins, a second year specializing in special education student, attended the drag show and said he enjoyed the event.
“I thought they were all really fun and interesting in their own way,” Robins said. “I felt like every performance showed something about the performer. I thought it was just a really fun experience overall.
Dontae Milner, a major in astronomy, played the role of Nezha. It was Milner’s third drag performance at Eastern.
“I think they loved it because I think I was the only one who went with all this scary Halloween stuff, especially with the blood,” Milner said.
Jurnee Evans, a senior English major, was a performer on the show. They played like Apollo Device.
Evans said they think a drag show is a good thing to experience to learn more about what drag is.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to experience different types of art,” Evans said. “That’s what flirting is, it’s a type of art. It’s just good to cultivate yourself. I feel like it’s a piece of culture that a lot of people don’t know about. If they are, it is only through RuPaul’s Drag Race or something like that. A lot of people don’t understand that this is an art form that ordinary people like to practice.
Some performers said they liked seeing the audience’s reaction to their character.
“The best part is hearing the crowd,” Paniagua said. “This is what I prefer because I might enjoy it, but I want others to enjoy it. When I hear that or when I see smiles and all that.
Katja Benz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]