One of Kent State’s most anticipated events took place this week: Sex Week. Students got a chance to take part in fun activities that also educated them in sexual wellness and safety. One celebration from Wednesday night was the ever-popular drag show. Current students and alumni got the chance to don their drag personas and perform for hundreds of fans in the Student Center Ballroom. They were also joined by RuPaul’s Drag Race’s reigning Queen of the Fame Games, LaLa Ri, who gave two emotion-filled performances for an adoring audience.
Sex Week’s first ever drag king, Himbo, said their favorite part of drag is getting to do it for fun. “It’s a really cool creative outlet; just doing something stupid. I’m a drag king dressed up like Drew Barrymore.”
In front of his biggest crowd to date, Himbo entertained the audience with a Halloween-inspired mix that included China Anne McClain’s “Calling All the Monsters” and a few audio clips from Halloween movies, like “Scream.”
Another drag performer, Eugenia, served the audience a couple of sensual Britney Spears and Ariana Grande numbers in sequined costumes and beautiful long wigs. “I didn’t know that you could do art in such a way,” Eugenia said. “I think every gay kid dreams that they could be Britney on a big stage with a bunch of people, and now I can do that.”
Jaye the Doll, a Kent State alumna, rocked the stage with her numbers, including a Janet Jackson-inspired performance. “This is actually the first drag show that I ever did, four years ago,” Jaye said. “I graduated [from Kent State] in 2021, but this was the first time I ever performed in drag, ever. So it’s really nice to come back and do it all over again.”
Additionally, drag queen Deadly Ambition explained how drag unifies the LGBTQ community. “Gay people come from all over, the only thing that we have in common is really the fact that we are LGBTQ, and so drag shows kind of unite us in a common interest,” they said.
Ambition’s performance gave a mix of emotion and entertainment that the show host, Frutisha Punch, described as “making no sense but still being a perfect number.”
Drag is also an important outlet of creativity and self-expression within the queer community. Punch said, “I will always remember the description of drag [performers] as ‘saints’ in the queer community. Drag [performers] are people who uphold values of grace, respect [and] honor… I think drag is so important because it really gives people a lot of freedom in life.”
She also encouraged people who attend drag shows to bring some dollar bills, or even a gas gift card, to tip the performers. Punch was even given a bottle of Dr. Pepper during her performance of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and told the audience, “that’s how you tip a drag queen.”
Kent drag performer Karat Cake’s performances stayed true to the Western, country theme of this year’s sex week by lip syncing to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and later, performing a fun, sexy Doja Cat mix. She said, “Back in my hometown, I was one of two queer people… And to have that liberation now, to be free and think, ‘what’s not the social norm?’…. Drag, in my eyes, is just showing what could happen.”
Comatose Why-Wintour, another Kent drag performer, tore onto the stage in two fiery performances of Olivia Rodrigo’s “ballad of a homeschooled girl” and Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater.” In a final statement about the importance of drag to the queer community, Why-Wintour emphasized the importance of remembering the important queer who are the reasons drag is more widely accepted in modern times.
“Without people like Willi Ninja, like Pepper LaBeija; without so many amazing queer people of color that are being erased from history, we wouldn’t have drag at all,” they said. “Watch ‘The Queen,’ and watch ‘Paris is Burning,’ which are two documentaries, because without those trailblazers who are living authentically themselves in the face of defiance…we wouldn’t be here. We are here because of them.”