Syracuse University is known for a lot of things – reputation, history, and alumni among them. But what about a diverse student body? One could argue that diversity might not always be the first adjective associated with SU. But Thursday night in the Schine Underground, Syracuse students showcased just how diverse this student body truly is.
At 8:00 P.M., Schine Underground was packed with an excited audience eagerly awaiting the start of the preliminary round of Pride Union’s 12th annual Drag Show. The energetic crowd, which sold out the 350-person venue, gossiped and greeted one another with familiarity and openness. Many of the audience members could easily have participated in any fashion show themselves – clothing styles ranged from subdued with some funky elements to flat-out fabulous, and there was not a frumpy sweatshirt-wearer in sight. It was refreshing to be amongst a crowd that blends easily into the population, but found their element amongst a welcoming and warm community.
Around 8:15, the volume began to dim with the lights, and audience members quickly took their seats. Pride Union president Rachel Card, also known as “Babyface,” welcomed the attendees and proceeded to introduce the show’s host. Moments later television personality and professional drag queen JuJuBee graced the stage. The former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant wowed in a skintight cheetah-print bodysuit, getting the crowd pumped with a rousing performance of Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack.”
Following the performance, JuJuBee opened the show with cheeky opening remarks and wisecracks, with the crowd gobbling it up. The magnetic host then explained the rules of the preliminaries.
Six contestants would perform, with a professional act performing in between, and there would be a panel of judges evaluating each contestant. Three categories were used for the judging processed: charisma, lip sync, and coordination.
First to perform were the duo act of Antoinette and Donatella Dupree. Antoinette appeared first, wearing a skintight black dress and lipsyncing to Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” with charm and pizzazz. The crowd cheered when Donatella joined her partner, donning a red dress of the same skimpiness, to perform Beyonce’s part of the hit pop song. The two showed flawless coordination and sang with vigor, much to the delight of the judges and the audience.
Following the strong-starting duo was George Michael, who performed “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!. Wearing a simple white t-shirt, black spandex and a shock of purple hair, George box-stepped in time to the rhythm of the song and provided an overall lighthearted, satisfactory performance. A panelist suggested George use more stage, while another noted that more choreography would have bettered the score.
Next was professional act Kitten n’ Lou, the “show-busiest” couple in the business. The number began with classic ‘70s pop, then transitioned into Big Sean’s acclaimed hit “A$$.” The duo captivated, performing without a single flaw and exciting the crowd with their silly yet highly technical routine. JuJuBee was blown away by the performance, commenting on their exquisite sequined costumes and complimenting burlesque performer Kitten, saying “she’s natural, while I’m brought to you by Bob’s Furniture.”
Tanya Tatone was the next contestant to perform, lipsyncing Laura Bell Bundy’s “Giddy On Up.” Wearing a black peplum-style dress, Tanya performed with heaps of sass, even strutting out into the audience and performing a split. The judges loved her attitude and complimented the performer on the involvement with the audience.
With the competition quite literally heating up, the next performance was Max Wagger, who performed Tim Wilson’s “Booty Man” wearing suspenders, a construction helmet, and a false mustache. The joking performance took a more serious note with a transition into an older hit by pop group fun., and an abrupt change in props. Switching to a top hat and baton, Max turned up the theatrics, improving the performance significantly. The judges praised the contestant’s use of props.
The final act consisted of duo Spike and Liandrah, who lipsynced Miley Cyrus’ “Do My Thang.” Spike showcased some serious hip-hop moves, while the chemistry between the two definitely elevated the quality of the performance. The audience clapped along gleefully, cheering and shouting at the pair. The judges commented on the energy of the performers, suggesting that the two use flashier costumes or props for next time.
To wrap up the production, Kitten N’ Lou took to the stage once more for a rousing rendition of “Last Dance,” by the late Donna Summer. The five-minute performance included expert dance moves, removal of clothing, and sparkly nipple and groin coverings (yes, you read that correctly). The crowd shrieked and shrilled along, enjoying every second of the electrifying performance. The energy continued into JuJuBee’s rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Emotions,” ending the show on a colorful note indeed.
The finals competition will take place Friday, February 21 at 8:00 pm in Goldstein Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased for $5 with SU/ESF ID at the Schine Box Office.