Indianapolis drag king Oliver Closeoff puts on a devilishly good performance at the LGBTQIA+ Alliance Drag Show on Oct. 26. Photo courtesy of Diana Fernandez-Caumol.
ERIKA KOVACH | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured performers included Ava Morningstar, Oliver Closeoff, Miss Thang, Universe and Virginia Slimm, who returned as emcee of the show. While many of the performers rocked pops of color, feathers or diamonds, some opted for more costume-type looks to kick off Halloween celebrations early.
Drag, defined as “a type of entertainment where people dress up and perform, often in highly stylized ways,” has quite a popular scene in Indianapolis. Many of the drag performers visited campus from across Indiana, where some host their own shows at venues like the Back Door.
While many of those performing were seasoned and returning to campus to the delight of many, the show featured three student performers who were new to the art of drag.
Ollie Sikes, a junior theatre and English double major and first-time drag performer, said his preparation process involved repeating and memorizing his chosen song, “Maneater”, by Nelly Furtado.
“I knew I already had an outfit in my closet that I wanted to use,” Sikes said. “[I planned] to sort of do a combo of both male and female drag. So I’m wearing the suit, but for accessories, [I did] a classic drag queen look.”
Enali Rogers, a senior physics major and president of Alliance, explained that this year’s show featured an all-trans cast. This was not the only change to this year’s event.
“Something that we haven’t done for the past few years is … encouraging tips for the drag queens we hired, just to help bridge that gap [between performers and the audience] and help them find maybe a little bit of extra funds,” Rogers said.
While many of the performers are polished in their craft, the production side is almost entirely student-run.
Sophomore English major Emi Rosen planned much of the show this year in her role as vice president of programming and events for Alliance. This involved contacting each of the performers, as well as setting up necessary insurance and contracts.
“All of the kings and queens are absolute darlings as well,” Rosen said. “Even though they are technically ‘business partners,’ I do feel like I had a genuine connection with them as if we had known each other for ages. It was stressful, yes, but it was such a lovely experience.”
Rosen also said that Alliance is working to make the event eligible for a Butler Cultural Requirement (BCR) credit in the future.
For many, the drag show has proved to be an important event on campus. As the passing of homophobic and transphobic legislation pursues across the country, maintaining queer representation and resilience is significant work.
“I think it’s especially important more than ever, as a celebration of dismantling gender roles and creating a safe community together,” Sikes said. “Black trans people have been especially targeted for hate crimes, and so I think it’s important … that we support these drag queens.”
The event not only acts as an opportunity for the Butler community to interact and support drag, but it can encourage attendees to further seek out shows and queer spaces around the city too.
“I think that having a drag show on campus also allows people to experience how to go into [queer spaces] that they [didn’t] know where to find,” Rogers said. “But starting here, you’re able to get the names of drag queens, and follow them around Indianapolis and support them.”
Butler Alliance holds the drag show event annually. To keep up with their events, including the upcoming Second-Chance Prom, follow their Instagram.