Drag king performance raises funds for MSU student
Five members of Drag King Rebellion, or DKR, a group that calls itself a gender performance troupe, bowed as they finished their "Greatest Hits" show Friday night at Club 505, 505 E. Shiawassee St. in Lansing.
The group ended a night full of energy, between performing choreographed routines to nearly 20 songs and running up and down stairs between most acts to change clothes in the basement dressing room.
DKR, which has seven members total, explores common definitions of gender through its performances, and intends to entertain and educate at the same time through its performances, its members said.
The group is made up of "kings" and "bio-queens," said member Jordan Furrow, a social relations senior known on stage as "Stone Wall." Members of DKR perform either as "kings," people considered female at birth who perform as men on stage and might identify as male, female or a number of other identities in everyday life. Or they perform as "bio-queens," biologically female people who perform mostly female personas on stage.
"The message is really important, with gender. It helped myself to grow you don't have to live in the gender binary. Education is good," said member Arielle Popkey, an art education senior known as "A-Train" on stage.
Member T.J. Jourian said the group tries to pick songs that aren't "outright oppressive;" for example, none of the songs objectify women. But the group tries to pick songs that also show the group can have fun while making a statement, Jourian said.
"We do a lot of political numbers, as well as educational," said member Jessica Shamberger, an English senior, known as "J-Rod" on stage. "Certain numbers we do, there's a certain message. Whether it's about domestic violence, or propaganda, or current affairs always. The 'Rebellion' part comes against norms of how people view drags as."
The group's well-coordinated choreography and energy kept the audience engaged for the whole night; they were always crowded around the dance floor that served as a stage.
"I love their performance," said Christine Johnson, a hospitality business junior, who said she's been to most of DKR's shows and considers most of the songs that were performed Friday her favorites. "It's always very political activism in a different form."
Proceeds from the event will go to Jourian, an MSU student affairs administration graduate student from Cyprus working to raise money to stay in school.
"I'm finishing my last year of grad school, and it's tough trying to find a job or assistantship as an international student," Jourian said. "The support has been great. It's really affirmed my belief that community is everything."