When we think prom, what comes to mind?
Excessive confetti, sashes with pointless titles like “VIP Prom Court Member” and conventional themes with no substance.
On April 16, the Arts Scholars program will host a drag show to raise money for Joe’s Movement Emporium.
The drag show, started by former Arts Advisory Board member Anna Harris, began because the Arts Scholars program needed to develop a fundraiser. A drag show is “unique and campy,” so the idea stuck, according to Arts Advisory Board member Meg Cavanagh.
“It’s more or less a comedy show, but in pageant form,” Cavanagh said. “There’s definitely a lot of laughter. People don’t usually know what to expect, but have a pretty good time.”
The show, held in the Cambridge Community Center, usually draws a crowd of 100 to 200, Cavanagh said.
“The Drag Show has always been one of Art Scholars’ biggest events,” Anna Bella Sicilia, the head of the Arts Advisory Board, said. “The contestants always get a lot of crowd support, definitely a lot of laughs and sometimes shock, depending on how crazy the performances get.”
There are three portions to the show: talent, fashion, and question and answer.
The talents displayed usually consists of dancing or lip syncing, Cavanagh said.
Last year, one contestant lip synced to “Let it Go.” She took off layers of clothing as the music intensified, Sicilia said. As she kicked off her shoes, one went flying and almost broke a window.
“It gets pretty creative,” Cavanagh said.
After all of the performances, the judges offer comments and criticism, which Sicilia said is always entertaining.
While the show receives a positive crowd reaction, it is often difficult attracting participants, Cavanagh said. However, the show eventually spreads through word of mouth and volunteers come forward.
However, senior music education major Matt Dohm said his friends had a positive experience with the show in the past.
Dohm said he is new to this culture and is “approaching this role and outlet without appropriating it.” He talked with those who have done drag before to make sure he wasn’t disrespecting the outlet.
“Some people need this,” Dohm said. “This is their thing; they can’t express that side any other way. I don’t think I need that outlet, but I’d like to try it because people have encouraged me to do it before. I consider myself an artist and I’d like to try my voice at [drag] and see if I have a voice in it.”
Junior neurobiology and physiology major Connor Laughland said last year’s winner, Kyle Travers, is in his pledge class at Theta Pi Sigma, the LGBTQA frarority, and encouraged him to participate this year.
Laughland, who has dressed in drag before, said this year’s prom theme is what drew him to the event.
For Laughland, dressing in drag gives him the opportunity to experience other kinds of gender expression because he said he is unable to dress in female clothing in a “socially-appropriate” manner.
“I think [dressing in drag] means being able to express your gender somewhere other than what you really associate with,” Laughland said.
People want to see something different, but there’s also the draw of seeing people you know in the show, Cavanagh said.
“A lot of straight men are the ones who dress in drag,” said Sam Sauter, a former advisory board member. “It’s cool to get them out of their comfort zone and have them see the experience that people in the LGBTQ community go through.”
Every scholars program is affiliated with a charity, and Arts Scholars works with Joe’s Movement Emporium. Joe’s is a performing arts community center that offers dance and arts classes to youth and adults, Sicilia said.
The drag show occurs April 16 in the Cambridge Community Center. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. and tickets will be $3 at the door.
Maya Pottiger is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.