Dozens of members of the Eastern community gathered in the MLK Jr. Union’s Grand Ballroom to see drag performs lip-sync and dance Friday night.
The Student Drag Show was hosted by EIU Pride. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, EIU Pride hosted a drag show every semester. However, because of the guidelines in place for the 2020-2021 school year, the drag shows were canceled last year.
Tanya Willard is the coordinator for the Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity. She is also the Director of New Student and Family Programs at Eastern, as well as one of the advisers for EIU Pride.
“This was really hard for them last year,” Willard said. “They tried to do it a couple of times virtually. And we couldn’t really get it off the ground.”
Atlas Hennegan, senior English and philosophy major, is the vice president of EIU Pride.
“I think it was great,” Hennegan said. “It definitely 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 performers performed twice during the show.
Luis Paniagua, a senior graphic design major, performed as Chanel Lanaé during the drag show. He said he likes being on stage.
“It feels really good. We didn’t get to do it last year because of COVID, so I did feel very much nerves, but I got over it because I was like ‘you know what, this is what I love to do,’” Paniagua said.
The show also had an MC, who was a sophomore chemistry major, Cayleigh Rath. This was Rath’s first time hosting the drag show.
“I thought it was absolutely wonderful,” Rath said. “All the drag kings and queens literally killed it. The crowd was perfectly hype and was absolutely patient here.”
Daniel Robins, sophomore special education major, 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 each performance showed something about the performer. I thought it was just a really fun experience overall.”
Dontae Milner, an astronomy major, performed as Nezha. This was Milner’s third drag performance at Eastern.
“I think they loved it because I think I was the only one that went there with the whole Halloween spooky thing, especially with the blood,” Milner said.
Jurnee Evans, a senior English major, was a performer in the show. They performed as Apollo Device.
Evans said they think a drag show is a good thing to experience in order 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 drag is, it’s a type of art. It’s just good to culture yourself. I feel like it’s a piece of culture that a lot of people aren’t familiar with. If they are, it’s only through RuPaul’s Drag Race or something like that. A lot of people don’t understand that this is an art form that regular people enjoy doing.”
Some performers said that they enjoy seeing the audience’s reaction to their character.
“The best part is hearing the crowd,” Paniagua said. “That’s my favorite thing because I may be enjoying 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]