Veteran performers say goodbye at annual spring drag show

Photo by Motoki Nakatani
Photo by Motoki Nakatani

“Picture This” was the theme of the spring drag show, which captured the snapshots of memories for first-time drag show performers, and some who would call this one their last. “We practiced every Monday since January and now it’s gone in two hours,” said Holly Leisenheimer, the drag show coordinator, who also performed as drag king Max Mitchell.  Leisenheimer said planning for the drag shows begins as early as April of last year.

The annual spring drag show took place at the Atwood Ballroom April 9, hosted by Benton-Stateview and Outloud!, the SCSU organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally students. Drag kings and queens lip synced a variety of different songs, while audience members gave them tips, with all the tips going to a non-profit cause.

The performers begin practicing the group songs in January. Despite not having a decided theme for the first few weeks of practicing, they like to get comfortable and familiar with the group songs, Leisenheimer said. Some of the decided songs are ones that have to do with the show’s theme, others are ones that the performers desperately want to perform.

Leisenheimer said she didn’t really think about this drag show being her last, until after the show when friends and other attendees hugged and congratulated her on her last drag show. Several of the drag performers were veterans of the show, while the show welcomed newcomers to the stage. Previous performers will meet and try to find a good time for everybody to practice. Leisenheimer said the group tries to recruit new members during the Main Street and Side Street events on campus, and they reach out to friends of performers as well.

Along with Leisenheimer, this was also the last drag show for emcee Chelsea Lieser, who goes by the drag name Scarlett Velour. “I love it. I love drag, but I thought it was time,” Lieser said about stepping down from emcee duties. “I don’t know how many drag shows I’ve done,” Lieser said. The first show she emceed was the “apocalypse” themed drag show of 2012, and she’s been doing it ever since. What she likes about emceeing is being able to keep the show going and keep the audience laughing, she said.

This year’s show had a loose feel, as was evident when an audience member gave the other emcee Barbie a chicken meal during the middle of the show, after Barbie said she was hungry for chicken. Lieser said she usually has an outline of what she wants to say, but scheduling conflicts with her and the other emcee caused them to “just do it on the fly and see what happens,” Lieser said.

Freshman Randi Schaust attended the drag show and said the show was upbeat, and she enjoyed that the performers lip synced to songs that you could sing along to. The performers invited audience participation in the show, as they tossed beach balls into the crowd during a Katy Perry number, and several audience members got on stage to dance along to the song “Uptown Funk” with performers Scarlett, Max, and Cory.

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