Drag club to host 'Destress Dragapalooza'

By Ty Konell | 4/19/17 9:25pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Rachel Britton Performer Christopher Royer

by Rachel Britton / Grand Valley Lanthorn

With finals approaching, a night of community and quality entertainment is a welcome idea. With this in mind, the Grand Valley State University drag club is taking initiative Wednesday, April 26, to host an amateur drag show.

The show, called "De-stress Dragapalooza," will take place in the Cook-DeWitt Center at 8 p.m. and will feature GVSU students who are in the drag club as performers. The club hopes hosting an event like the drag show will raise student spirits during exam week.

“It’s a benefit, having something where people can relax and enjoy some entertainment to de-stress from finals,” said Eric Lacerna, vice president of the club. “Everyone needs a break from working so hard.”

Apart from reducing stress, some members of the club believe attending the show will simply provide a fun night of free entertainment.

“I think, first and foremost, that it’s really entertaining and people have a lot of fun both performing and watching,” said Chris Royer, president of the club. “It’s a good atmosphere to be around.”

Moreover, executive board members of drag club said performing is a way to express the artistic parts of their personalities.

“The reason, I think, that I kept up with it for so long is the creativity aspect of it all,” Royer said. “Not only doing my makeup and making my costumes, but also the creativity that goes with performance art.”

For members of the club, drag is a long-time interest and having the organization available on campus allows for building the craft.

“I first got interested in drag when I saw my first episode of RuPaul's Drag Race during my senior year of high school,” Lacerna said. “I started doing it during the past fall semester, so I'm still learning and developing as a drag queen.”

Providing an open forum, executive board members believe performing drag may open dialogue around gender identity.

“There’s a big culture around it, and there’s a lot of conversation around campus about gender and those kinds of topics,” Royer said. “I think those are so important, and I think drag kind of incorporates aspects outside of the gender binary in a way that is celebratory.”

More than just speaking, some participants in the club said performing drag allows a person to explore a different gender identities.

“It a healthy space to try a gender presentation that you may not have tried before,” Royer said. “People are cheering you on, and it’s a way to try presenting differently to see if you like blurring the lines of your gender.”

Royer got into drag performance due to his love of anime conventions, and said his first time being in drag was in the summer of 2015.

“My friend got me all done up because I had no idea what I was doing,” he said between laughs. “We went to Rumor’s (night club) karaoke night and nobody was there, and it was so much fun.”

However, it was said that drag is not fun and games all of the time.

“I usually panic in the middle of doing my makeup, even if I’m like halfway done,” Royer said. “You’ve got to get real ugly before you get cute, but the sheer panic really pulls me through it.”

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