The Osterhout Concert Theater was anything but a drag on Friday night, as the Rainbow Pride Union (RPU) hosted “Candyland,” its 12th Annual Drag Show.
Whether people realize it or not, drag is a significant part of the LGBTQ community. It’s easy to think that drag culture ends after the second act, but drag queens and kings aren’t restricted to just flashy shows and performances. Many go “out” in full drag, and drag personalities are a fundamental part of some people’s daily lives.
Katrina, the host of Merlin’s Thursday drag shows, reprised her role as this year’s emcee, though most of her hosting was done offstage. As the first performer, Katrina took the stage with Madonna’s “Candy Shop,” and in no time was straddling audience members and sucking on hard candy before tossing it into the crowd. She signaled the audience to applause by saying “hashtag guesh.” Katrina hosted the show from the laps of unsuspecting “drag show virgins” while teasing the audience with a variety of candies. Katrina’s riotous performance on and off the stage really made the show feel like an interactive experience, albeit with a strict “look, don’t touch” rule. The only time Katrina left her loving audience was to restock her candy, which she fed to them in between performances.
“I’ve got candy for days coming out of so many places,” Katrina said. “But this is a PG show.”
The dancers were a mix of drag queens and drag kings, and weren’t limited to Binghamton University students. Em N Em, one of the drag kings, was definitely a star of the show. While he may not have been the “real” Slim Shady, the performance was true to Eminem’s erratic, crotch-grabbing style.
Keeping with the theme, the show was split into two parts: the “Rainbow Trail” and the “Lollipop Woods.” Including intermission, the show ran for around an hour and 40 minutes, with a quick competition portion at the end. Katrina had the audience vote on the student performers with their applause.
Devine, the clear crowd favorite, stole the show as well as first place. Performing at the end of the first act, Devine took the stage with Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” channeling the spirit of Queen B herself. With an unmatched fire on stage, Devine’s dancing had an uncanny likeness to Beyoncé’s own performance style, down to the very walk. On top of that was the jaw-dropping full split, and a tasteful bow to end the dance. Following her lead was Em N Em in second place and Ryan Seabrest in third.
RPU contributed $1 from every ticket sold to the Southern Tier AIDS Program, raising over $200. The attendance of this year’s show was higher than any show of which RPU has a record.
Donald Lodge, director of RPU and a senior double-majoring in Chinese studies and political science, said the attendance indicates a shift in perception about the LGBTQ community and drag culture on campus.
“I think people are staring to realize the large presence of LGBT students on campus as well as rainbow pride Union,” Lodge wrote in an email.