Drag Isn’t Just Dancing, Singing and Expensive Clothes

Miranda Stambler| THE SPECTRUM
The emcee opened the show by stripping down to an outfit that had a sign saying “eat me” on her butt.

Students cheered, laughed and were shocked by risque costumes and crazy dance moves Feb. 15, when Spotlight hosted a drag show with four performers from Gay 90’s, a nightclub in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The four female impersonators performed songs such as, “Masterpiece” by Jessie J, “Short D— Man” by Gillette, “Flashlight” by Jessie J, “Never Enough” by Loren Allred, and many more.

The emcee for the night would not only perform herself, but also went out into the audience and interacted with students. She constantly made jokes to keep the room laughing and upbeat.

The emcee expressed her enjoyment of being able to talk to people and make them laugh. “We all go through things through life, and when people come to the show they come here to have a good time because they’re going through things in life. So, if I can come here and put a smile on someone’s face or change their life for one day, then it makes me feel good to know that I’ve done my job,” she said.

Another performer, Shaeshae Lareese expressed her favorite part of drag shows is, “When I’m on stage. The tips are great, but for me it’s about the enjoyment and seeing people smile and be entertained.”

Miranda Stambler| THE SPECTRUM
Miss Gay United States 2017 performed a song from The Greatest Showman leading to many tips from students.

The length of each performer’s drag career varied, ranging from 9 to 31 years, leading to different experiences, but for the most part they found drag in the same way.

Many found drag through going to their first gay bar and seeing drag, to which they realized that is what they wanted to do. For Lareese, she became inspired by her drag mother. “I started as a backup dancer for my drag mother. She used to weigh 300 pounds, and I used to do a Broadway number called ‘Sophisticated Ladies’ and I was the backup dancer as a boy — I was inspired because she would always win these contests and I was a backup dancer,” Lareese said.

One thing people do not realize when attending a drag show is how much time it takes. On average, getting ready takes around an hour and a half, but if needed, performers can get ready within 20 minutes.

Another aspect people never question is how much money being a female impersonator costs. It is more expensive than people think. One of the dresses Lareese wore during the show was $2,600. Others expressed how to just have rhinestones put on a dress it is around $530. When performing in pageants, they can spend up to $50,000.

Miranda Stambler| THE SPECTRUM
Miss Gay United States at Large 2017 performed flashlight leading her to tears as students pulled out their phone flashlights.

While many see drag as a hobby, these four expressed how it’s more than just that and that it is their career. “We take this professionally because, for us, this is our jobs — we take this seriously,” one performer expressed as the others agreed.

As for support for these performers, one mother loved the idea automatically, where others had family members hesitant at first but now attending shows to show their support toward their careers.

When becoming a female impersonator, many grew in confidence. One performer expressed how she didn’t like the fact she was gay, but when introduced to drag it helped her come to terms with it and embrace it.

“It’s (drag) — helped me make a family because a lot of people growing up gay and trans and stuff get disowned and say they don’t have a family. So through drag and stuff, you make your own family and then you learn family is not about blood — it’s about who’s there for you and who loves you,” the emcee said.

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