April 22, 2019 | 59° F

Demarest Hall Drag Show demonstrates power, control

Photo by Brianna Bornstein |

It was all about “Power and Control” this Thursday, as drag queens from and affiliated with the Rutgers campus came out to show just who really was in control. Continuing with their semi-annual tradition, living-learning residence hall Demarest Hall hosted its Spring 2018 Drag Show that put dance and creativity on center stage. Being an event that provides a platform for the gender-fluid, it was encouraged that all genders and sexualities come and support the experience. 

“The Sex, Sexuality and Gender section puts on the drag show every semester. Since it is a bi-annual event, the planning is year-round, but putting it together happens about a month in advance," said Connor Hollis, a graduate student in the School of Education and the show’s eighth-time host.

Hollis said that drag is a gendered performance — specifically, it’s about exaggerating it to the point that gender can be your own costume. It is a way to identify yourself the way you have always desired and there was no better place to do it on Thursday than at Demarest, an all-inclusive community, and people from all over campus came out to participate in the show and support the performers. 

Dressed in a silky purple dress, delicately placed with lace and thigh-high black leather boots, Hollis showed up on stage with an interpretive dance, feeling the music within him, while lip-syncing along with his song. In a change of pace, Julia Nathanson, a School of Engineering first-year, decided to co-host the event with Hollis, performing a few duets together before taking the stage on her own. 

Nathanson first performed “Primadonna” by Marina and the Diamonds. Coming on stage with blinding pink hair and a tight formal black dress, she describes the event as electrifying, making it an experience she will never forget.

“I first tried drag when I was rushing for the fraternity, Gamma Sigma. Over there, every night is Halloween. It really makes me happy to do what I do and that drag is for everyone. I call myself a ‘bioqueen,’ because I biologically identify as a female and I am proud to serve the purple fantasy with my co-host Hollis,” Nathanson said. 

Jaimie Justis Mendez, a Mason Gross School of the Arts first-year, took his passion for dance and put it to the stage. Mendez did not prepare to come and perform but was glad he did thanks to the support of Hollis and the rest of the crowd. 

“When I was younger, I was very energetic, and my mom took me to see The Rockettes in New York City. I told her I wanted to be the first male dancer, and ever since, I have been practicing. It has become my passion and tonight I am here to eat it all up,” Mendez said. 

After performing “How To Be A Heartbreaker” by Marina and the Diamonds, he finished off the night with “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé, moving his way down the stage. 

Taking the stage next was Jacqux Gagnon, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, who danced to the song “Ice Cream Man” by Van Halen. As a part of his performance, Gagnon brought out ice pops for props. As he moved his away across the floor, he playfully seduced each lucky person in the audience with an ice pop.

Gagnon said that he already loved costuming and performing before doing the show. He is gender fluid and enjoys doing drag because it allows him to present masculine — sometimes in an exaggerated way — in an encouraging environment.

Along with him on stage was sidekick and hypeman Killer Queen J Thomas, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior. Thomas attended wanting to express their inner drag by doing multiple backflips and just wanted to have fun by being a part of the drag culture.  

After an eventful night and many other performances, queen and Demarest Drag Show regular Magnifeast stole the show by dancing to “New Rules” by Dua Lipa and a mixed version of the Walmart Yodeling Boy. 

“Performing makes me feel confident, and I love theater. I am here to put on a show,” Magnifeast said. 

Speaking to all aspiring drag queens and anyone who is interested in enjoying an amazing show, Thursday night’s show was truly an inclusive event, making anyone feel welcome to come and show off who they are and who they want to be. Demarest is all about taking the opportunity to be fearless and proving that gender comes in all shapes, sizes and sexualities.

Editor's note: An earlier version of the article inaccurately stated that Connor Hollis was the show's fifth-time host. Hollis is the show's eighth-time host.

An earlier version of the article stated referred to Jacqux Gagnon using she/her pronouns. Gagnon preferred using he/him at the time of the show.

Elizabeth Leoce

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