Bekins’ Hall Drag Show Dances The Night Away

On March 18, student and professional performers alike came together on the lawn of the Bekins hall and put on a drag show for the university community. The night was long and the cheers were loud as each performer became their alter ego and presented truly entertaining spectacles. The performances ranged from stand-up comedy, energetic dance numbers, to lip-sync battles; it was a night to remember for all who were in attendance.


The event was organized by students Quinn Orr ‘23 and Juan “JP” Vargas ‘23. Student performers presented performances under the monikers of Clara Xtravaganza, Connie Sensus, Garbage Twat, Dicksie Decimal, The Claw, Bethany, Charles E. Booge, Garfield, The Wozard of Iz, EJ, Lady Priestly, Skull Merchant, Connor Lingus, StarChild, Madame Thunderdome, and Super Slay Gatooo. The show was also lucky enough to be graced by the performances of two professional drag queens: Athena Kills and Ally Meda. Orr reflected on how they recruited the queens for the show:


“I found Athena Kills because she was supposed to perform at a Drag Story time at the Cellar Door Book Store in Riverside with a few other queens. A few days before the event, the Cellar received a Proud Boys sticker on their door and then had their lease revoked. To my knowledge, the Cellar Door Book Store is now relocating, but I wanted to reach out and support the queens that were impacted by this act of hate. We were supposed to have another queen from the Drag Story time, however she was scheduled for work last minute, so she recommended Ally Meda and she was wonderful!”

Student performer The Claw at the show.


Also in attendance as the guests of honor that night were University President Krista Newkirk and First Gentleman Lew Glenn. “I think the students’ energy was great and they did a lot of work to put this together,” Newkirk commented. “It’s wonderful to see them out here celebrating each other.” One of the event’s MC’s, Maggie Ruop commented on Newkirk and Glenn’s attendance stating that “it was lovely to have Krista and Lou there and they were engaged participants who took every joke I made about them on the chin like champs.”


“I think that support for students, especially students who are in communities that have historically existed on the margins like the queer community has, can and does come in many forms. I appreciate Krista and Lew showing support via their physical presence at this event, which was a joyous occasion created entirely by students. I look forward to seeing how Krista and Lou continue to support the queer community, and the drag community in particular, both institutionally through resources and policy changes that make it easier for queer students to exist on campus and succeed academically, and in their own personal lives––I hope both of them take a renewed interest in educating themselves about queer history and culture and learning to love the art form of drag,” Roup explained.


Once President Newkirk and First Gentleman Glenn departed following the main portion of the show, one of the performers, Garbage Twat, had some choice of words for the president during the show’s conclusion. As soon as they gave thanks to everyone who attended the drag show and showed their support for the performers, they wished the crowd a goodnight before ending with an impromptu expletive towards President Newkirk. No comment was made by Newkirk or Glenn regarding the incident. Although reasons for this message aren’t entirely clear, it could be in reference to the lack of attendance at the second annual Asian Student Association’s Night Market. More on that story here.


Regardless of the controversy, the stars of the night were hands down each of the student and professional drag performers, who shared their emotional and joyful experiences performing on stage for the University audience. “I’m usually a very nervous person when it comes to public speaking, performing, things like that,” said Connie Sensus, the winner of the night’s lip-sync tournament. “For whatever reason, putting on this drag and listening to the song, all of that kind of dissipated. I was like ‘I’m gonna dance however I want, I’m gonna feel however I feel’ and it just felt great,” she shared.


Other performers shared similar thoughts. “It’s empowering and beautiful and I love to spread queer joy,” Garbage Twat explained. The Wozard of Iz added, “you gotta just spread queer joy all the time and it’s just so much fun and so sweet and so happy!”


Lady Priestly shared thoughts about performing on stage in drag as well. “The experience of being on stage, in drag especially, is one that really makes me feel alive. It really is electric because it’s a space where I get to be myself more than anywhere else. It’s a place where I get to experiment with expression in a way that isn’t really accepted by normal society but is celebrated here and loved and adored by so many. It’s such a privilege,” she said.


Clara Xtravaganza, who did not perform as a drag queen, had an equally wonderful experience getting to perform. “It just gave me life to be up there doing what I love in front of everyone I love,” she said.
The Claw expressed her thanks for everyone’s support, fellow performers and audience alike. “It’s super fun, especially cause I know everybody is so supportive that I can just do whatever the heck I want,” she said.


Reflecting on the show, the two visiting drag queens, Athena Kills and Ally Meda, shared their own feelings of being on stage. “I feel like I belong, that I have a purpose that I’m fulfilling. It feels like what I’m meant to be doing and I feel at home,” Althena Kills expressed. “I just feel performing in general is such a rush and such a beauty to be able to connect with an audience member. It’s just a really beautiful way to connect and uplift somebody.” Athena Kills continued to comment on the Proud Boys indirect attack on Cellar Door BookStore proceeding the drag show. “I believe that hate is taught, and if hate can be taught then so can love. So I think if you can teach somebody very early to love and accept everybody, then that message should be spread. That’s how it should be,” she remarked.

Photos by Arden Dvorchak.

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