Arts & Culture / Mosaic / February 4, 2009

Trans-Special, J-Pop, and Cabaret

Enthusiasm was high for the drag show last Thursday night. Even before it began, the Gizmo was packed with students chatting excitedly with each other. Some had painted moustaches and goatees on their faces. Adorning the stage was the rainbow-striped flag, a known symbol of the LGBT community, and a large poster which had “WE ARE ALLIES” drawn on it, complete with over a hundred of student’s signatures.

The show, created by junior Ellie Poley and post-baccalaureate Brittany Alsot, was the final event of Ally Rally week.

Knox has a significant LGBT population, and Poley and Alsot wanted to connect this LGBT population with the rest of campus through the events that took place during Ally Rally week. Although pure fun is part of the reasons for putting up a drag show, Poley and Alsot also wanted the audience to step outside their comfort zones and explore a gender presentation different from their own.

“The point is to collectively enjoy the experience of messing with each others’ expectations, stereotypes, perceptions, and prejudices,” said Poley. “[Another] goal is to increase visibility of LGBT culture on campus, and loud dance music and sequined dresses are fairly effective in that regard.”

The show, which lasted a little over an hour, featured 15 richly diverse performances. Some of the acts were performed by a single person, some in couples, and a few in trios. Hosting and emceeing the show was freshman Adam Sirgany, who sported a slinky purple prom gown and a pair of strappy sandals. Sirgany participated in the show for several reasons: to have fun, to uphold his belief that love is not based on labels, and to support his non-straight friends.

“I’ve never been physically attracted to men. That doesn’t mean that the attraction my queer friends experience is any less valid, and in some cases, the lengths they have to go through to legitimize it probably makes it more meaningful,” said Sirgany, adding that “being in drag is a great way to kill chronic stage fright.”

Some of the acts included a girl dancing to a Japanese Pop song, a girl singing “Lola” (to which the audience clapped along), a trio who performed the song “Loathing” from the musical Wicked, the song “Two Ladies” from Cabaret, a fellow who sang the song “Lancelot” from the musical Spamalot, and a girl who danced to Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” wearing a gorilla suit. The girl performed under the name Trans-Special Orchestra, which was a play on the fact that the ape costume was cross-species.

At the end of “Loathing” from Wicked, two of the girls exchanged a brief kiss that elicited raucous applause and approval from the audience. Other acts included two girls acting out to Avenue Q’s “If You Were Gay” and a duo calling themselves Moose Richards and Zowie Bowie wearing a construction worker-type getup performing to Franz Ferdinand’s “Michael.”

Poley herself participated in the show, performing a play-flirting act with three friends to Cake’s “Short Skirt, Long Jacket.” A particular act was an original performance by junior Lauren Assaf and senior Kanjana Rajaratnam, a ballroom dance called “Boy Meets Boy.” The dance was a combination of Salsa, Cha-Cha, and the Nightclub Two-Step.

“We had originally had a group of three and were going to play on the love triangle angle, but due to a conflict on the third person’s part, we ended up a twosome,” said Assaf. “The dance ended up being a story about deceiving appearances, compromise, and of course, love. Dance often involves all three of these things in subtle ways.”

All in all, the show was a success.

“I liked a lot of the performances. It was amazing. It’s pretty good overall,” said sophomore Lin Shi. “I hope it will be more organized next year with a wider variety of performances, though”.

Poli Blintsovskaya

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