Showstopping Drag

Borb Hankes, Staff Writer, Dean of Conquest

Following the fantastic success of the State College Drag show in the fall semester, the PRISM club organized its own drag show. Featuring an all-star cast of students and two MCs from Penn State, the Juniata Drag Show rivaled the quality of main-circuit performers. The students on stage delivered showmanship and professionalism throughout the production. This, in combination with the everpresent intense and extravagant energy infused in the students’ every move, created a night to remember for all involved.

That includes the crowd. Every spectator was on their feet and screaming for the performers. There was a tremendous outpour of support from the crowd, and not just in applause. Many of the attendees dressed out in their own drag, exploring and participating in a culture they may have otherwise not have had the chance or confidence to enjoy. Even the State College Drag Queens complimented the crowd on their enthusiasm. It really speaks to the vibrant and loving community that Juniata prides itself on.

The first queen set the tone by amazing the audience. Fortunately, I was able to talk to Rei Strouse (aka C***agious) after the show about his history with drag performance. I was surprised to hear that although Rei has been practicing drag makeup for some time, this was his first ever performance. He was very humble about it and said that he had practiced intensively for the show – the most difficult thing was getting used to the eight-inch heels! But of course, his hard work paid off at the show.

I also got to ask Rei about local opportunities to see or participate in drag. He said that although bigger cities like Harrisburg and Pittsburgh naturally have a larger scene, there are always opportunities for those who seek them. For example, just a few weeks ago in Montgomery, PA there was a well-attended show. And the State College group is an extraordinary opportunity to see great drag without going all the way to the big cities.

Most of all, Rei emphasized that drag “doesn’t have to be a man dressing up like a woman, drag can be whatever you want it to be, and that’s what’s important about it, I think. You don’t have to be a drag queen or a drag king, you can be a drag performer, and it’s just all about exploring your gender and having fun and performing — and a lot of fun, that’s the most important thing.” If you’re looking to give drag a try in any way, make it your own thing! It is an inclusive and welcoming community.

And it doesn’t stop here! If you or someone you know is interested in seeing more fantastic drag shows or performing themselves, there are opportunities close by to realize those dreams. The State College Drag queens, Laurel Charleston and Alonya Chest, are reachable on Instagram and Facebook, and there are shows around that welcome anyone and everyone to come and enjoy. A humongous shout out to them both for all of their support and hard work!