Eleven professional drag kings and queens strutted their stuff down Bourbon Street at the Official MSU Drag Show on Friday in the International Center. With a Mardi Gras theme, the Crossroads Food Court was transformed with green, purple and yellow decorations, such as feather boas hanging from the ceiling, spotlights and a stage.
“This is a tradition that UAB looks forward to put on every year,” said Stephanie Strawska, arts director of the University Activities Board, or UAB. “This is just something different that is open to so many different people, and everyone loves it.”
In partnership with Respecting Individuals on Neutral Ground and the Residence Halls Association the show attracted more than 600 people to watch the performers dance, lip-sync and interact with the crowd. Strawska said all students should attend the show for the unique experience.
“There is always a fun, outgoing and contagious energy going on this night,” Strawska said. “It expands on a different kind of experience that you normally wouldn’t have.”
Hershae Chocolatae, one of the drag queens and emcee of the show, said the crowd’s energy is what made her get involved with drag shows about 12 years ago, and coming to MSU is another opportunity to express a different identity.
“The crowd’s reaction is what hooked me and for this show, that is one of the things that keeps me coming back,” Chocolatae said. “When I am on stage, I become a character. The performance, the moment and nothing else matters.”
While getting ready backstage with the other performers, Chocolatae said although it takes time getting ready and a couple hours to drive to East Lansing, coming to college shows is rewarding.
“For me, most colleges are very energetic and go through a great deal of effort to put these shows on,” Chocolatae said. “The hardest part is preparing, but I know it is one of the greatest feelings in the world and I know that’s why I keep doing it.”
Theatre freshman Savannah Kolodziej said she was impressed by the performances during the show.
“I am surprised at how talented the performers are, and the costumes are phenomenal,” Kolodziej said.
Kolodziej said the show is not only a chance to experience an upbeat and positive event, but also an opportunity for students of all sexual orientations to come together.
“I have noticed that this brings a sense of community among people who are (lesbian, bi, gay and transgender) LGBT and their straight allies,” Kolodziej said. “It is really awesome to see.”