SLU Drag Show a Success for Second Year In a Row

Photo by Abby Campbell
Photo by Abby Campbell

On Oct. 11, Saint Louis University students gathered in the Wool ballroom for the second annual SLU drag performance. 

After the success of last year’s drag show, despite widespread publicity that garnered criticism from several right-wing organizations in the fall of 2022, SLU staff decided to make the show an annual event. 

The “All Love, No Hate” drag show was sponsored by the SLU Division of Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement (DICE), SLU Rainbow Alliance and SLU Student Involvement Center (SIC). All tips raised from the event were donated to support SLU Rainbow’s Queer Closet. 

Thomas Patterson, the program coordinator at the SLU SIC, said preparations for this year’s show included organizing more lighting and more seating, based on turnout for last year’s event. The drag show set-up this year also included a second stage in the center of the room, allowing more students a better view of the performances. 

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SLU Rainbow Alliance’s President, senior Lane Hartman said the show couldn’t happen without the support of the SIC and DICE. He said he was hopeful to see the drag show become a tradition that will carry on for many years to come. 

“With the legislative and ideological attacks on LGBTQ+ and specifically trans folks in the United States, and especially Missouri, having this event that really celebrates, centers and encourages queer joy is absolutely critical,” Hartman said. 

The event organizers also set up a table for cash exchange, giving attendees the opportunity to get one-dollar bills, as tips are a customary part of drag culture. 

For two hours, the “No Hate, Just Love” drag show filled the ballroom with sparkling costumes, bright lights and loud cheering. 

The show featured six different performers, many from the local St. Louis area. Host and performer, Roxxy Malone, was one of the returning entertainers from last year. Malone started the show with a performance of Taylor Swift’s song “Cruel Summer.” A variety of uplifting pop songs and power ballads reverberated through the Wool ballroom during the two-hour show. 

Following last year’s footsteps, the show featured lip sync competitions between attending SLU students. The first lip sync to Katy Perry’s hit song “I Kissed A Girl” was between senior SAB member Devon Krummenacher and junior Rainbow Alliance member Nate Reyes, who both came prepared in heeled boots. Two more lip-syncs, to upbeat Beyonce songs “Alien Superstar” and “Crazy in Love,” followed as interludes between the drag performances, and then the three winners battled it out in a final face-off. 

Reyes ended up being the final champion, stealing the show with his death drop move. This is a dance move that has its roots in voguing, where it is considered one of the most dramatic and entertaining moves. It involves the dancer throwing their leg in the air and falling to the floor to the beat. 

Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, an annual LGBTQ+ awareness day to support anyone ‘coming out of the closet.’ October is also LGBTQ+ history month. 

According to the organizers, queer spaces like drag shows promote visibility and acceptance, for both queer people who are ‘out of the closet,’ and those that are not. “If you’re not in a space or time to come out, if you don’t feel safe, then you shouldn’t,” Drag queen Lucy Couture said in regards to National Coming Out Day.

Drag king Andrew Genius spoke about the importance of campus shows, for both viewers and performers. Genius got his start in drag doing campus shows, and enjoys coming back to the atmosphere these shows have. The entertainer talked about his own journey in drag, and how he did not have a lot of representation when first entering the scene. 

“It’s so exciting and so fun that I’m becoming the representation that I so greatly desired,” Genius said. 

SLU Student Government Association’s VP of Finance, Emma Lercher, has a long history of supporting drag shows. The junior works in the SIC and said she was excited to have gotten the chance to help with this event. 

Lercher had many good things to say about the drag show, both about the event planning process and the impact. 

“It’s one thing to say you support the queer community, but it’s another thing to put in the time, money and effort to put together such an amazing expression of queer joy,” Lercher said. “A lot of queer people at SLU come from small towns where they may have been one of the few queer people at their high school. So, allowing people the space to explore different expressions of sexuality really just creates a community of care, solidarity and visibility.” 

Drag queen Chasity Valentino has been involved in drag for over ten years and says she enjoys college campus shows. She discussed the importance of doing campus shows such as this one to promote diversity and inclusion. 

“I think it’s amazing that we have these opportunities. Especially in the state of Missouri, when there’s already so much legislation fighting against us already, to eliminate the art form of drag. Not just in Missouri, but across the country,” said Valentino. “But especially in places like Missouri, I think it’s important to come out and showcase that this is not a crime and to encourage the next generation behind us to continue to go out and vote, pay attention to what’s going on and encourage them to support their local entertainers.”

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