Janelle Monae’s “Screwed” abruptly cuts off. The shrill sound of police sirens strikes the audience, and a hush falls over the room as drag queen Laveau Contraire lifts her hands to the sky mid-song. Then, screams erupt as the song returns with renewed vigor.
Glitter, glamour, gay energy, pantyhose — these four elements came together in Feminists in Action’s “DRAG Me Out of this Political Climate” event on Sept. 7 in a series of drag performances that used the art medium to comment on current politics. Performers and audience members alike were excited about the angle the show took.
The event featured performances from hosts Jack Stallard and Nick Beason as Carina Von Tuna and Scarlett Diore, alongside performers Justin Betweener, Reia Mars and Laveau Contraire.
“It’s OK to go against the grain,” Diore said. “It’s OK to push boundaries and push the envelope and make people uncomfortable because if people stay comfortable, then everybody stays the same and we don’t grow as people, so I think that it’s important for everybody to learn and continue to grow.”
The show opened with Tuna’s impression of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during her campaign in the 2016 election period. Tuna lip synced to highly circulated statements from Clinton, like the infamous “Just chillin in Cedar Rapids” and “Pokemon Go (to the polls)” videos, set over a Britney Spears track.
The queens took an extra moment to comment on Baton Rouge’s status as No. 1 in HIV diagnosis rates in the nation, and tossed condoms like Mardi Gras beads into the crowd that attendees scrambled to retrieve.
“I think it’s really cool because it’s commentating on [politics] through art, and it’s a fun way of joking about it but also bringing attention to serious issues,” communication disorders senior Erica Long said.
During one of Contraire’s performances, Contraire cackled in an American flag dress as speeches from President Donald Trump played over a track with a manic beat.
“Laveau’s performances were really thought-provoking, I liked all of her costumes, and she was really high-energy,” said mass communication and political science senior Emilie Bowen. “She’s a really great performer and she really was able to tie social issues into her performance really well.”
Diore delivered the penultimate performance of the night as Olympian Tonya Harding, who was at the center of a scandal involving an attack on fellow Olympian Nancy Kerrigan. The performance was in spite of several wardrobe malfunctions that Diore brushed off.
“It was less about my performance for me, and more about seeing the whole show come together because we’ve been planning this since March or April of this year,” Diore said. “Seeing it all come to fruition was really awesome. My performances were cool, but seeing everybody work together to create a political message with their drag and bringing so many people together with it was amazing for me.”