The fabulous kings and queens of UNR strutted their stuff at the 2017 Drag Show. The Drag Show took place on Wednesday, April 12, in the Glick Ballroom at the Joe as a part of Unity Week. The event was hosted by Katya from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The contenders were Val Veeta from the house of Wynters, Fairyboi, Sebastian Drake, Arabella Aspergina, Zeeno Bianchi, Kenysha Jontel, Chronic & Tonic, Himself, Iris, Nikki Vuitton and Naughtia Biznass.
All of the kings and queens competed admirably, but only one champion could claim the title. Nikki Vuitton came in first place with her rousing performance of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain.” She won merchandise from Katya and a $100 donation to the charity of her choice. First runner-up was Sebastian Drake and the second runner-up was Naughtia Biznass.
This marked the first time ASUN was involved in the Queer Student Union’s annual Drag Show.
“One of the issues we have every year is generating attendance for unity events,” said Erica Bickel, event programmer for ASUN and lead “Unity” programmer. “I knew the QSU held a drag show every year but didn’t have as much participation as they would like, so I reached out to them to partner on the event. ASUN purchased the talent (Katya) and did more logistical stuff, while QSU provided the performers, judges and other expenses.”
Preparation began back in December. Every two weeks, Bickel and QSU president Kim Uribe met to figure out details like staging, performances and lighting/sound.
The Drag Show was free to students and community members. Eager spectators quickly filled the ballroom, which had a capacity of 500 people. Staff ended up turning away about 200 people away. The crowd was pumped up, making lots of noise and supporting each participant.
Katya did a great job of entertaining, as well as making sure she pronounced “Nevada” correctly. Between acts, she kept the energy up and made everyone laugh. She breezed through topical subjects, including Sean Spicer’s Holocaust comments, the infamous Pepsi ad and the United Airlines incident, as well as more serious points like transgender issues. Toward the end, while the judge tallied their votes, she even performed herself.
“She is by far the most fun and interesting artist I’ve ever worked with,” Bickel said. “She is very accommodating, flexible and low-maintenance and was always checking up with me during the show to make sure that things were going okay. She is just as funny in person as she is on stage.”
The night was full of memorable highlights. Fairyboi’s live rapping/singing enchanted the judges. Sebastian Drake’s elaborate costuming complemented Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.” Zeeno Bianchi brought a voluptuous rendition of Tenacious D’s “F— Her Gently.” Himself rocked “Kiss” by Prince. Nikki Vuitton stole the show, accepting dollar bills from adoring fans. The show was closed out by Naughtia Biznass, performing “Cherry Bomb” by the Runaways despite technical difficulties, blowing away the audience, including her supportive mother.
The Drag Show was a big hit for everyone in company.
“Even though my friend and I didn’t get in right away because it was so crowded, even seeing Katya host for an hour was awesome,” said UNR junior Amy Serrano. “Drag shows are just so empowering and fun, the school should definitely host more.”
Although Drag Shows are fun entertainment, they also provide a platform for an often marginalized group. When asked why events like the Drag Show are important, Bickel quoted her intern Grant Uba: “I believe that for a university to completely achieve ‘unity in diversity’ we must think about representation–that is, focusing on providing an environment for individuals to be present around people they resonate with. As an event programming intern, I believe that we are lacking in the aspects of “inclusion” and “representation.” Our efforts to partner with the QSU in planning their Annual Drag Show work to reassure all of the students that they have a place on this campus — a seat at the table.”