By Adrianna Daly, Staff Writer
Warren Wilson’s annual drag show was a lively whirlwind of confetti, hair extensions, and artistic expression; it was a celebration of identity and sexual liberation that was arguably one of the most lively events of the year. Exuberant Wilson students awaited the event by passing “mugs of water” merrily to one another and shimmying in their seats to Beyonce and The Spice Girls. The excitement of seeing farm boys seductively sashay to “Single Ladies” in fishnet stockings while wearing lip gloss juicy enough to make Lil Mama jealous was an initial reason many attended. However, the drag show began on a sentimental note, a beginning that shocked many first time attendees.
Brian Ammons, Chaplain and director of Warren Wilson’s Spiritual Life, opened the spectacle with a lip synching piece followed by a pledge in which everyone raised their right hand and promised to take the ideals of acceptance and tolerance, which the drag show promotes, into their everyday lives and to carry hope that one day everyone can look in the mirror and love who they are, regardless of gender, sex, or sexual orientation. The pledge set a necessary level of awareness to the upcoming flamboyance. The pledge reminded us why the drag show is important and why it continues to be a part of the Warren Wilson tradition and community.
Matthew Harper and Ahdonnica Patterson, first place winners of the drag show, explained what it meant for them to participate in the show. For Matthew, it was the purpose of performing in general that provoked him to participate. “I wanted to see how much people know about me, to see what I would be able to get away with and see if people knew it was me or not,” Matthew states. “It’s all about performance art for me, just being able to completely change your image and make people believe you are your character instead of [saying] ‘that person did a really good job playing that character’…that is the ultimate thrill for me as a performer.”
Ahdonnica Patterson said that for her it was more about being a part of the LGBTQIA community and showing her support as an ally. Matthew and Ahdonnica’s piece was one of the many well-rehearsed and intricately enacted performances in the show.
The show ended with a final aerial piece by Johna Applestein in which she re-enacted Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball”– sledge hammer, white unitard, and all. The audience showed their support for each act, shouting phrases such as “yes, work it/ twerk it!” or “get it boo!” Students have enjoyed the drag show for years, however it is unknown when it originated and why. Dan Seeger, Student Activities director and organizer of the drag show says, “In the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, we actually had students here who did drag for real; in other words, they performed at local gay clubs for money on the weekends. Drag queens and kings. But I think, mostly, the drag show has been more about fun, not radical queer gender-bending with a message about what it means to be masculine and/or feminine in contemporary society.”
When Seeger was hired as a Student Activities director in 1999, Wilson had professional drag queens come to emcee the event. However, as the show became more popular, it became student led. Today the drag show is completely facilitated by students. Why? Because it’s darn fun to dress up as someone else and parade around like the proud peacock you are, especially among supportive classmates, staff, and faculty.