The university’s 11th annual drag show returned in-person

After hosting the event virtually last year, the event was brought back in person.

Performers+and+students+at+the+11th+annual+drag+show+on+Friday.

Rayna Cohen

Performers and students at the 11th annual drag show on Friday.

Rayna Cohen, Contributing Writer

FAU’s program board and the Center for Inclusion, Diversity Education, and Advocacy (IDEAs) hosted the 11th annual drag show Friday night to kick off homecoming week.

The event was held at the Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium and featured drag queens Aja, Kat Wilderness, Rianna Petrone, TP Lords, Velvet Lenore, Sasha Lords, and Ariell Rimm.

Before the show, a live DJ was spinning electronic music and there were strobe lights that set the mood for the rest of the night. The audience talked excitedly amongst themselves as they waited for the show to begin.

Grace Jenkins, a sophomore, was excited to attend the drag show. “It’s fun and exciting, [an] inclusive place with good energy,” they said. 

This is the kind of environment that emcee and drag queen, Gerald Arroyo-Prada, a university alum, wanted to provide. Arroyo-Prada has hosted and performed at the drag show for the past 11 years. 

He said that “people who aren’t 21 haven’t had a chance to go to a nightclub” and that this would be their chance to see drag queens for the first time, as they normally work in clubs or bars. 

As his drag persona, Ariell Rimm, she changed outfits as part of her emcee gig, and told jokes between each set, really engaging with the audience. When she asked if this was the first drag show people had seen, most of the filled auditorium raised their hand.

Maddie Freshwater, a freshman, was among those that raised their hand. She said her first drag show was“really entertaining” and “the most fun she’s had.”

Performer interacts with the crowd. (Rayna Cohen)

One of the headlining queens, Aja, who competed on season 9 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” stunned the crowd by performing her original music. Her backup dancers vogued in sync throughout her performance, and she engaged with the audience as she invited audience members to come on stage for a runway competition.

Two-by-two the students sashayed down the stage, showing their best runway walks. Many utilized hair flips and voguing to give their walk extra attitude as the audience ate it up. Aja’s backup dancers served as judges, with the audience having a say as well by cheering for who they thought was the best. 

“I didn’t know what to expect when they brought up the audience to walk so it was such a fun surprise to see that a lot of our students were really good,” said Ella Chan, a sophomore.

Miss Rozz began her set by entering through the aisles, eliciting cheers from the audience. The crowd cheered her on as she made her way through the sea of audience members. When she hit a split, the crowd erupted wildly with amusement.

Of all the queens, Kat Wilderness received the biggest reaction of the night, even before she entered the stage. She wore a cheetah top, skirt, and a wide-brimmed hat. She performed to a medley of songs from Beyoncé’s live “Homecoming” album which pleased the crowd.

She was very engaging with the audience, and at one point sang a verse of a Beyoncé song with a member in the crowd. Kat Wilderness’ backup dancer was loved by the crowd because of his back and forth interaction with her. 

As Wilderness left the stage, the audience was on their feet.

After the show, Amanda Belizaire, a freshman, said that Kat Wilderness’ performance was their favorite part of the show.

All the queens engaged with the audience, prompting them to clap along to pop music and dancing in the aisles as they collected tips. 

Kelsey Cavanaugh, a freshman, said that the audience interaction was her favorite part because it was refreshing to see in a drag show.

The experience was so positive that audience members are already looking forward to the next show. 

Rayna Cohen is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]