Drag show encourages expression, audience participation

Drag queens tip Dusty Garner, K-State alumni, as he removes make-up during the closing performance of the 11th-annual K-State Drag Show on Feb. 20, 2015 in McCain Auditorium. Garner performed as Monica Moree during the show. (George Walker | The Collegian)

The annual K-State Drag show returned last Friday night for the 11th consecutive year.

The Student Governing Association, Union Program Council, Society of Cultural Studies and LGBT Resource Center sponsored the event, which was held inside McCain Auditorium.

Siobhan Jones, Manhattan resident, said she has attended the annual drag show for the last four years.

“The interaction and the boldness of the show is what makes the show for me,” Jones said.

The performance brings drag queens from all over the country. Some are K-State alumni, including Dusty Garner – also known by his drag name Monica Moiree – and Tyler Woods, also known as TyWoo.

“I lived in Manhattan for five years,” Garner said. “One of the things that I have always taken with me is that drag queens can bring the community together, and when I was here the community desperately needed that.”

Garner has hosted the show every year since it first started, and said he enjoys the impact the show makes on the community.

“This is the one time a year that students who largely come from an agricultural or rural background have an opportunity, in a very safe environment, to be exposed to something that they may never get to see,” Garner said.

Woods agreed with Garner; he grew up in Fort Scott, Kansas and said being in drag gives him an opportunity to break out.

“There is a whole bunch of reasons why I chose to do drag,” Woods said. “It’s a fun way to turn gender on a dime, and it is also a chance to be over the top and essentially create a new character or persona.”

The show was filled with a variety of drag performances throughout the night. Each performer choreographed a routine to an upbeat song.

Audience participation was encouraged and there was even a Vogue challenge, a type of dance-off for audience members.

Tip runners were scattered throughout McCain, and collected tips from audience members for each performance. Having designated tip runners let the performers focus on their routines and not worry about the money.

Garner said being in drag is a form of art and takes someone special to be a great drag performer.

“We paint really big and we these have massive wigs, but you need a big personality to go with that,” Garner said. “If you don’t, you’re boring. It’s like a three-legged stool; if you have one thing missing you fall down.”

Garner said that getting to perform in front of an audience makes it all worthwhile.

“It’s an opportunity to become something more,” Garner said. “I grew up in a small town in southeastern Kansas, and so getting to perform in front of thousands of people, really makes all of the life I went through in the mid-’90s in Kansas completely worth it.”