A wise man once said the taller your hair is, the closer you are to Jesus.
This is an adage that Brian Stewart, a junior computer information systems major and participant in the SOGLBT Spring Drag Show, lives by.
“And on Friday night, my hair will be closer to Jesus,” Stewart said.
This is because Friday night marks the semesterly SOGLBT Drag Show, an event featuring multiple performances by CSU students and professionals from across the state that celebrates drag culture and supports the women’s program of the Northern Colorado AIDS project.
The show starts at 7 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom and is expected to draw between 1,200 to 1,300 CSU students and community members. The show is free and open to the public, though donations are encouraged.
Instead of a traditional donation box, attendees can show their appreciation for the performers in a different way: namely, by tipping them like they would strippers.
“[The dollars are] sweaty and crumpled up, and the volunteers end up peeling it from every crevice of my body,” Stewart, who has performed in the show since the second semester of his freshman year, said.
Last semester’s show raised $2,200, and organizers were forced to turn away audience members at the door. This semester’s goal is to raise $5,000.
“Whether you’re in the closet, or out, or an ally, everyone is there to have a good time, be entertained and interact with performers,” said Sarah Raintree, a junior sociology major and drag show co-chair. “It’s a great space, a safe place for people to express themselves.”
For performers, the weeks leading up to the show are marked with stress and preparation, with dance practices and shopping.
Stewart, who is performing with Dominic Lajoie, a junior apparel and merchandising major, and Savannah Svoboda, a senior communication studies major, will be working off of a Marilyn Monroe-theme to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.”
“As much as we like Britney and Gaga, we try to do something different,” Stewart said of his song and dance selection. “Everyone can shake their ass and look hot.”
Stewart and Lajoie said they sacrifice food during the week leading up to the drag show to buy and look good in their outfits, which come from stores as varied as Life of the Party, Dr. John’s, thrift stores and JC Penney.
Sometimes, they even borrow dresses from the girls at Gamma Phi Beta sorority.
“He’s so tall and slender. He’ll try on these dresses and I’ll be like ‘Keep it. It’s looks better on you than me,’” said Charissa Hoffer, a junior CIS major, member of Gamma Phi Beta and a close friend of Stewart’s. “He’s just the most comfortable person in his own skin. All of the girls love him.”
Stewart said he and his partners have spent 20 hours rehearsing their dance, which they even choreographed themselves. And even though he’s performing in front of more than 1,000 people, he said he doesn’t feel an ounce of stage fright.
“I’m a diva. I love to be the center of attention,” Stewart said. “It’s a rush, 1,300 people loving everything you do. It’s the greatest experience. You can do no wrong on that stage.”
This semester’s show, which has the theme of “Stop in the Name of Drag,” will draw 23 performers, include professional drag queens from Denver, Greeley and Wyoming, and revolve around the theme color of red in honor of AIDs awareness.
In addition to drag queens, some drag kings will also be performing.
“It gives me a sense of pride to know that the community is creating this visibility,” said Kelly Buchanan, a drag show co-chair and sophomore psychology major. “Society is becoming more accepting of our culture. It creates a big queer pride within CSU.”
Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte and Entertainment Editor Courtney Riley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.