CSUEB’s Sixth Annual Drag Show dismantles social norms

Erika Martinez,
Staff Writer

Once the doors opened, the theatre was immediately packed. Lights went off, the spotlight directed to the stage and the audience welcomed the performers with cheers.

Last Thursday evening, the Diversity and Inclusion Center, known as DISC, hosted their sixth annual drag show in the University Theatre with recurring guest performers: Scarlett Letters and Laundra Tyme, along with Persia, Creme Fatale, Dulce de Leche and Scam Likely.

Sixties rock music from Janis Joplin, The Velvet Underground, Fleetwood Mac, along with contemporary band, Tegan and Sara, were covered by Letters and Tyme throughout the night. Summer of Love was in the air as Tyme and Letters brought out the acoustic guitar. The theme became psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll, commemorating the likes of Joplin and twirling around the stage like Stevie Nicks.

Between the energy and positivity, the queen hosts had the audience laughing with their sarcasm, non-censored honesty, charisma and jokes. Creativity was shown in each performance. Dulce de Leche came out with their extravagant, shiny dress and fervent lip-synching skills, adding the R&B and soul touch to the show. Scam Likely, performed an avant-garde light show with creepy, sfx makeup.

A performer dressed up as a spider chased Creme Fatale around the stage as “Spiderwebs,” by No Doubt played in the background. Fatale was covered in fake spider web and silly string filled the stage and front row seats.

Giving a captivating performance, Persia jumped, lip-synched, danced and crowd-surfed. They also sang and danced to their YouTube hit, “Google Google Apps Apps.” Besides focusing on entertaining and keeping the show going, Persia also made sure to send out a message about current social issues emerging in Bay Area through their song. The song pointed out issues such as gentrification, the housing crisis and race issues with the chorus saying, “Google, google, apps, apps, gringa, gringa, apps, apps, I just want to be white.”

The main assumption of a drag queen is a man dressed up as a woman for entertainment, but the drag queens that night stated it was more than just dressing up as the opposite sex. “Drag, to me, is creating a persona or a character that plays on gender and gender identity and boundaries,” explained Creme Fatale to The Pioneer.

It is not about a male or female figure dressing up as the opposite sex, it is about breaking out of the expectations of a heteronormative society. Fatale gives herself as an example. She was born a woman, identifies as a woman and performs drag. It is not about gender, it is about being comfortable with the in-between. “I teach at an after-school arts program, second grade, and I teach them about drag history and I always make it a point to say that drag is about self-expression,” Persia told The Pioneer.

These performers do drag for more than just the entertainment and money, they do it to be themselves and to fight against the social norms that marginalizes who they are. “The biggest obstacle was hiding it from my parents,” Persia said.

Persia comes from a Mexican background, where the culture can be very sexist and gender-biased and being queer or a drag queen is still a delicate issue. Persia, who has been doing drag for 10 years now, admitted being scared at first of coming out to their parents and telling them that they were a drag queen for a living.

These performers have shown that performing drag can be risky because they face being judged, criticized and not accepted by mainstream society, but they do it anyway because it is what they love to do. “Drag as a performative art has always been inherently political, just because you are going against the norm of society and speaking out a lot of different issues,” Fatale explained to The Pioneer.

The queens are aware that they are currently living in a time where their LGBTQIA community is in danger under the Trump administration with laws such as banning transgender people from the military and taking away public restroom protections. “It’s almost as we’re taking steps back as a country instead of moving forward,” Dulce de Leche commented.

Living in the Bay Area, they feel free to express themselves, but know that is not always the case in other cities or states. They are very passionate about what they do, preparing themselves to fight against this heteronormative society. The pressure of living in a heteronormative society is dismantled little by little by dressing up, while having a good time and making sure their audiences enjoy themselves.