Let's Talk About Queens! Illinois State UPB's First Drag Race.

There are not many instances when it seems appropriate to respond “You’re Gay!” when the host of an event shouts “Hip Hip!” However, at  the University Program Board’s first drag race over the weekend, it seemed perfectly natural. 

As you might have guessed already, we’re not talking about cars racing each other.  We’re talking about queens. Drag queens competing against each other with fashion, lip syncing, dancing and acting. Being a drag queen has a different meaning to each person who is one, but together they form a beautiful strong community of people. 

The event was hosted by Chicago-famous and ISU alum drag queen, Auntie Heroine, and judged by drag queens Kitty Monroe, Marina Knight and Poison Iris Carrington

 

 

There were eight queens competing, with all different levels of experience. The contestants were:  Jakki Love, Erika Austen, Donna Von, River Rogue, Lady Deviant, Créme Brulee, Khaos and I’Yanna Starr.  

For Jacob Hamm, a.k.a. Creme Brulee, this was his first time performing as a drag queen. 

“Drag is an artform that I’ve wanted to try for a while now and I thought this was a perfect opportunity and I wanted to find my tribe, somewhat, and I found it,” said Hamm. 

UPB Enrichment Chairperson Isaac Hollis was in charge of putting this whole event together. He was really happy with how the show turned out and how everyone in the room interacted with each other.  

“I think this is a very important event because, one thing I love about my position on UPB, we kind of bring light to the issues that are not brought to light,” said Hollis. “This is something that the LGBTQ+ community love and this is something they find entertainment.” 

 

 

The competition started out with the queens doing their best walk and showing off their first outfits. Next was the talent round when the queens danced and lip synced to music. The judges gave critiques after each round, but never failed to make sure the queens knew what was amazing about them. During each performance they would shout things like, “Yes, mama!” or “The drama!” Another compliment they often used was, “You looked absolutely sickening.” Believe it or not, this is an excellent compliment. 

The judges and audience members hollered, snapped for, and tipped every queen during their performance. Even though it was a competition, every single performer was given love for getting up there and expressing themselves.

Before the third round with the final three queens, host Auntie Heroine did her own performance to Lana Del Rey’s song, “Doin Time.” Auntie Heroine is also responsible for starting the “Gender Galleries” here at ISU that puts on a drag show every semester. Gender Galleries is not a competition but just a smaller scale event for queens to perform.

 

 

The final three queens, River Rogue,  I’Yanna Starr and Lady Deviant, performed to Beyonce as their last chance to prove themselves as the winner of the drag race. The queens danced, jumped off the stage and moved throughout the audience full of energy. One of the most memorable dance moves was from the winner I’Yanna Starr when she jumped off the stage onto the floor into the splits. 

ISU student and audience member Robbie I-C said being a drag queen meant “to make a point for gender expression, but also just play with it. Play with gender expression.”

There was a big turnout for the event. One of the great things about having an event that is for and created by the LGBTQ+ community is how everyone is embraced and praised for their individuality. 

“This is something that a lot of times, people express themselves with something that they’re comfortable with,” said Hollis. “They call it like their home.”