The 4th Annual USC Drag Show: Drag to the Future has come and gone. But how was it? Simply, it was an amazing experience! First, there is a giant sense of accomplishment in going from just another passive audience member (albeit in a fancy head-dress) to being on stage. As the show progressed, I learned a lot about not just how to perform, but also how a show is organized (or disorganized). It is not easy forming a cohesive show out of a group of diverse and crazy drag queens. In fact, I don’t think I can fit it all into one blog post, so I am going to try writing different blog posts about the different performers and different types of drag. First up, the back story …
YEAR 1: I came
Two years ago, I saw my first USC drag show – “USC is Burning” (inspired by the documentary “Paris is Burning”). I went in expecting some kind of amateur student event, but was really impressed by how good all the queens were! The ball room theme was a great fit as it allowed all the different girls to showcase a wide range of styles from glamour to avant-garde WTF performances. The panel of judges helped link the queens together were funny blending support with shade. You can see the entire show here on Youtube. Even the guest star, Shangela Laquifa Wadley was a pleasant surprise. Shangela was the first girl to be eliminated in Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but was so full of charisma that she charmed his way back on to the show and most of the way through Season 3. Throughout both seasons, she was uneven, the girl who was always on the edge of elimination but still found ways to grow to each challenge. At the time I came dressed for the show, looking good but knew nothing about performing, but I too could learn and grow. Afterwards, I met with the girls and Shangela – at which point someone said “hey you should really come perform next year!”
YEAR 2: I saw
Except a year passed, and I still hadn’t worked out a song. “Big Mamma” who hosted the last two shows had graduated so the next show’s theme was “Mirror Mirror” a fairy tale contest to chose a new ruler of the USC drag house. Even though we missed Big Mamma it was still a good show particularly with special guest Willam Belli from Drag Race Season 4. Willam might of won too, if she wasn’t disqualified due that pesky fact that she wasn’t a student (Ooh irony). Here is her picture with Glenn Andrew. More pictures from this event can be found in one of my early blog posts here.
YEAR 3: I performed
So finally this year, I planned ahead to actually have a song ready before they even announced the show (Caro Emerald’s “Coming back as Man”). This is where the blog kicked in. I trained, I auditioned, and it went so well that I added another song (Mighty Mike’s “Just a Limit”). For a moment I stopped to wonder if I wasn’t really following the year’s theme of “Drag to the Future”. Having never done a regular drag performance before, how do I do future drag? Even the day of the show, I didn’t quite understand what the theme was, I just trusted Cristian (the organizer) to find a way to link all of our crazy songs together. In the afternoon, we were supposed to rehearse except the rental company still hasn’t finished setting up the stage – in particular there are no stairs making it hard to catwalk or interact with the audience. Finally we rehearse anyway, and just have to just jump off the stage. Meanwhile the lighting technicians plot out the spotlights. When it was time for me to rehearse the lights blink then go off, just give me back my spotlight!
Having never done theater in high-school or college, being back stage was a completely new experience for me. It is really REALLY hot back there. As show time approaches, the tiny green room rapidly filling with about 14 drag queens, kings, and supporters. There is just one unisex bathroom and two small mirrors. Clothes, makeup are scattered everywhere. It’s a good thing I did most of my makeup at home, I don’t know how they fit a professional guest in there last year. I thought I was going to be really nervous and as the minutes to show counted down I was!! BUT only when I sat still. So I tried to keep busy strutting about back-stage until suddenly I discovered I wasn’t nervous anymore.
Once I was on stage, muscle memory kicked in and you no longer worry about what you are doing. And it got easier. The second verse was easier than the first, and the second song was even easier still. Thanks to both my teachers, Tanisha and Candice who got these moves into my bones. I could not have done it without you.
NEXT TIME: Pictures of the actual show (and less bad Latin)!!