A white bowler hat floats above the painted red tiger stripes creeping across Vicious Crotch’s flesh. The stripes match his lipstick and plastic lace-up gloves that spit dyed feathers as his arms undulate to Christina Aguilera’s single, “Ain’t No Other Man.” Glittering fishnet stockings meet three-inch heels that don’t stop him from jumping all over the stage.
That’s just the first two minutes of the 2007 Northwestern Drag Show.
“Why do we do this here at Northwestern? Well, apparently here at NU we think it is safe to be queer,” said Vicious Crotch, this year’s emcee and two-time champion of the show. “And I think that’s more than accurate.”
More than 300 students surrounded the stage and sat on the floor to watch the show in the Louis Room at Norris. The Student Activities Finance Board financed the event, and the Rainbow Alliance and the Arts Alliance organized it.
Alumni of “The Chicago Kings,” a local drag troupe, gave the audience a taste of professional drag. They wore Victorian-era costumes and put on a politically themed performance. Several dance groups also performed: Fusion, BLAST, Graffiti Dancers, Boomshaka and a newly formed group, Syzygy. A cappella group Purple Haze and improv group Mee-Ow also participated.
Northwestern’s student groups faced a unique challenge by dressing in drag onstage.
“Everybody has to come up with something really creative and really new,” said Weinberg sophomore Genevieve Garcia, a member of Boomshaka. “It is the only time we really get to perform with such a variety, and with a competitive atmosphere.”
Group and individual performers competed for a grand prize of $500. Judges Shelley Rosenbaum, Jeffrey Masten, Stephanie Erickson and Ellen Worsdall awarded points according to creativity, gender-bending and overall performance.
“This is where people can come out and show who they are,” said Rosenbaum, owner of Gaymart, a shop in Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood. When he received a call asking him to judge the 2007 contest, he gladly accepted.
“I’m really impressed with the number of people here, and the enthusiasm of the students,” Rosenbaum said. “When I went to school nothing like this existed, and we were the beginning of this free speech movement.”
A Northwestern student who strutted across the stage impersonating R&B singer Beyonce Knowles took home the $500 prize and huge purple bowling trophy.
“We were really close last year,” said Communications junior Nikki Zaleski, a supporting dancer for the winning drag artist. “This year, it was our time.”
The dance group Syzygy came in second place and won $200 dollars for their gender-bending performance as “Scout Troup 69.” Boomshaka won a fluffy rainbow boa for third.
McCormick senior Leslie Gittings, co-president of the Rainbow Alliance, has produced the drag show for the past four years.
“It is really great to get a mainstream event out there using the groups at Northwestern that everyone knows, loves and thinks are great,” said Gittings, who dressed as Indiana Jones. “We need this just to say that being queer is great, and being gay is awesome. It is OK.”
The show had the hundreds of students laughing, screaming and clapping for the queens.
“The show gives people permission to act crazy,” said SESP sophomore Sam Schiller. “It is a free atmosphere, an open community where you can be crazy and take off your mask.”
“I can’t lie,” Schiller said. “I’m entertained by drag.”