Colorful expressions and extravagant dance moves

GSA holds late night drag show featuring drag queen, Bambi Deerest

Allegheny College’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance held a drag show in the Henderson Campus Center lobby during the evening of Saturday, April 14.

The goal of GSA is to create a safe and supportive environment for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer.  The club held the drag show in order to promote understanding and tolerance throughout the campus.

GSA brought in Bambi Deerest, a professional drag queen from Pittsburgh to host the competition.

“I had been following [Bambi] long before she was asked to come here,” Jacob Gagliastri, ’18, said. “I had seen her at a show in Pittsburgh.”

Malcolm Willig , ’21, performs at the Gender and Sexuality Alliance Drag Show on Saturday, April 14, 2018 in the Henderson Campus Center Lobby.

Gagliastri had competed in the drag show during his freshman year at Allegheny. With composing his senior composition, Gagliastri was too busy to perform in this year’s competition.  However, Gagliastri was still able to be a part of this year’s show.  Gagliastri was awarded the opportunity to sit on the judging panel for the competition.

In addition to Gagliastri, the judging panel included Trae Yeckley, a counselor for the campus counseling center, and Ryan Pickering, assistant professor of psychology.

Pickering has been the proxy adviser for GSA over the past year. The judges were given a sheet of five categories to help them score the performers. The categories included aesthetic and style, performance level, energy level, connection to audience and lip syncing ability.

The judges were asked to assign each contestant either a one, three or five for each of the given categories.

“It is so much fun. It is hard to give people scores and to declare one winner because I really do feel like everyone who performs wins and is a winner,” Pickering said. “I wish they could all get a prize.”

Like Pickering, many thought the show went well. Some compared this year’s show to last year’s show.

“I loved all of [the performances]. I remember when I did it my freshman year, a lot of them weren’t good, including mine,” Gagliastri said.

This year’s competition included a handful of students who dressed in drag to lip sync and dance to various songs ranging from Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” to “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

GSA has previously held drag shows in order to show support and raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. However, the alliance decided not to hold the drag show during the previous school year.

“[GSA] has been doing a drag show for a few years, usually on a prospective student weekend, but that sort of became uncomfortable for members,” Pickering said. “[The drag show] felt more like a show than a celebration of community. It didn’t happen last year because of that reason, but there was a push to bring it back this year.”

“Drag is a very important part of my culture as a gay man, so I think that has been a very important part of my experience as an undergrad and thinking about how to celebrate identity, but there are opportunities for offense in drag,” Pickering said.

Pickering said that often some people have issues with drag shows, even if they help showcase identity.

“There are situations where there are issues regarding how drag is portrayed, and whether you are laughing at or with the people who are performing,” Pickering said.

The members of GSA along with the contestants and behind the scenes help of the show all underwent training on how to perform drag in a respectful manner prior to the show.

“I really liked seeing other people perform and seeing everyone laugh and have fun,” Malcolm Willig, ’21, said.

Willig performed in the drag show under the stage name Latasha Caviar, and danced to “Toxic” by Britney Spears.

Willig decided to enter the competition after he saw a poster for the drag show hanging in the campus center.

“I had always wanted to do drag,” Willig said.

Latasha Caviar and Dixie Normous were not the winners of this year’s competition. Instead, Chastitty, the reigning champion, once again swept the competition and took home the prize.

In addition to being a competition for a twenty dollar gift card to Grace’s Asian Restaurant in Meadville, the drag show was also a fundraiser.

Throughout the show, members of the audience were encouraged to give dollar bills to the performers as a tip.   

All tips were donated to Transfamily, an organization that strives to support and assist the transgender population of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

After being given the award for winning the drag show, Chastitty was asked to say a few words, and she proclaimed she will once again be the winner of next year’s drag show.