Lights, Glitter, and Drag, Oh My!

Queens take the stage at FAU’s 5th Annual Drag Show

Mohammed+F.+Emran+%7C+Contributing+Photographer

Mohammed F. Emran | Contributing Photographer

Tayler Grossman, Contributing Writer

Glittery, bright and dramatic are three words Emily Cohen, a Florida Atlantic University LGBTQA specialist used to describe the school’s upcoming drag show.

LGBTQA Resource Center’s fifth-annual Drag Show is on Sept. 25 in the Boca Raton campus’ Carole and Barry Kaye Auditorium.

A DJ will greet attendees when doors open at 8 p.m., then the queens will run the show from 9 p.m. until midnight. Wielding a lineup of five professional/semi-professional level drag queens, the show will feature music, dancing and comedy.

“When you see these ladies perform, respect has to be given,” says Janelle Irons, a two-time show attendee who has been eagerly anticipating this year’s performance. “By the end of the show, everyone is having a good time, everyone is laughing, everyone is interested in the performers and want to get to know them better.”

Drag – the art of men or women dressing up as the opposite sex for the sake of performance – holds a place in the heart of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community because it is an outlet for gender expression.

“That’s really what we’re trying to get across – that gender and the way that we express and perform gender is very fluid. And the art of drag has expressed that for a really long time,” explains Cohen.

The show has come a long way since its first year in the Majestic Palm Room, where it fielded a modest crowd of 150 students.

This year, the drag show is expecting a crowd of 750 to 1,000 students and guests. It is also the first time the event is open to the general public.

The LGBTQA Resource Center plans to attract newcomers to the show with personalities like Ariel Rimm, the show’s emcee.

Gerald Steven Arroyo-Prada, an FAU alumnus and the man behind Ariel, was inspired by his favorite Disney princess. He has been doing drag for more than five years, and as the show’s emcee, he’s in charge of the queens.

dragshow-quote_editArroyo-Prada says he loves interacting with the crowd during the show. “If you don’t have confidence and personality, your emcee skills are not going to be what they need to be.”

He starts his day with a good breakfast, checks on the setup and hits the breezeway to promote the show while in drag.

“I’ll go hand out flyers and take pictures, will make fun with the frat boys and say, ‘Hey girl,’ to the sorority girls. But whatever it may be, just interact with the student population, make sure that they understand that I am not here to bite you,” says Arroyo-Prada.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to see, OK, this is just a little taste of what is going to happen tonight,” he says. “If I can make you laugh for two seconds on that hallway, if I can make you smile, even if you don’t come to the show I’ve already changed someone’s day.”

In addition to advertising in the Breezeway, the show’s coordinators hope to draw in the masses with new acts and technical aspects.

“Before it was just a microphone and a stage or catwalk,” said Arroyo-Prada. “We were in conference rooms with poor lighting and there was no theatrics to the show. But last year we were able to incorporate more all-around lighting and some props.”

Last year’s theme to the show was Greek gods and goddesses. The theme this year is geared more towards a feeling of “Tomorrowland,” as Arroyo-Prada puts it, and will be more futuristic.

There is a deeper message of equality and acceptance within the show, as it aims to not only entertain, but to also make sure that everyone is comfortable while still having fun.

“It’s that message of equality – of being born this way – that we definitely want to make sure that everyone in our audience and everyone in our show feels 100 percent comfortable in being who they are, at least for one night,” says Arroyo-Prada.

According to Irons, the show is a safe-zone where students can be themselves and rude comments are not tolerated. The show stresses acceptance and puts the audience in a position to reflect on the world around them.

“We get really stuck in boxes and binaries in our society,” said Cohen. “So, we tend to see things only as black and white, this way or that way, and there is no in between … Things like drag tend to blur those lines.”

She continued: “When those lines are blurred, you can really self-reflect, and try to better understand what it is you know about other people and yourself.”

The goal for the FAU Drag Show is that it continues to grow every year, with Arroyo-Prada hoping that one day it gets big enough to be performed in the FAU stadium.

“I am not one to think of anything with a limit,” said Arroyo-Prada. “If Disney taught me anything, it’s all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. Keep going. Keep on dreaming. Be bigger, and bigger, and bigger and things will happen.”

The Event:

When: Sept. 25

Where: Carol and Barry Kaye Auditorium

Price: Free with an Owl Card

$15 when bought in advance, $20 at the door

Doors open at 8 p.m. The show is expected to start at 9 p.m.

The Queens:

Ariel Rimm

Daizee Deluxx

Monica Chanel

Rianna Petrone

Rubber Child