Five o’clock shadows, abundant leg hair ,and broad shoulders disappear — lost under clouds of perfume, heavy makeup, and ruby red lips. Men are transformed into divas who dominate the stage singing Liza Minelli’s and Whitney Houston’s top hits.
Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone (EAGLE) organization set aside a night to celebrate the world of glitter, sequins, and blue eye shadow.
As part of its Queer Awareness Month program, EAGLE held Dragtober on Oct. 2 in the Little Building’s Cabaret to see who is the best queen on campus. At the end of the night sophomore visual and media arts major Darian Carpenter was crowned the winner.
For the third year in a row, hosting the night’s gender-bending competition was the fiery professional drag queen, Sapphira Cristal.
Cristal kept her high energy from start to finish, amid five costume changes and a hemline that got shorter with each dress.
The night’s competitors of Carpenter; freshman theater studies major Duncan Gelder; freshman writing, literature, and publishing major Maddy Torres; and freshman visual and media arts major Victoria Ciampa lip-synced their way across the stage.
Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and “You And I” echoed through the vibrantly lit hall as the room filled to capacity.
For Carpenter, the night’s winner, stepping into studded leggings and slapping on primer was about far more than a crown and the title of queen.
“I think it’s really important in the drag world to not only lip-sync and put on a persona, but to also perform a whole act. And I don’t think there’s enough of that in the drag world,” said Carpeder. “I want to progress in it because I want to wow people. I think there’s so much more to give in this industry,”
Carpenter and his deft trio of backup dancers mastered the stage to Marina and the Diamonds’ “Prima Donna Girl” and Lady Gaga’s “Marry the Night.”
Although this was his first drag competition, Carpenter was familiar with the transformation from male to diva.
“I used to dress up in drag for YouTube videos growing up, and I dressed up once for a parade in Provincetown,” said Carpenter.
For the first half of his performance, Carpenter embodies a young girl at a 1960s prom during the song “Prima Donna.” Suddenly, the girl realizes she is her own person and as such she must do what every independent girl must do. Darian runs to change into a jean vest and leggings for the second half of the act, “Marry the Night.”
Gelder, decked out in a flamingo pink halter dress and transformed into a Lucille Ball-esque woman entertained the audience with Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”
“My drag persona is Lucille, who has a touch of vintage combined with modern performance,” said Gelder. “She’s confident, not too over-the-top, yet still a little sexy and flirtatious.”
Slicking their hair back, painting on dark goatees, and donning leather, Maddy Torres and Victoria Ciampa acted out “NiceGuys” by KevJumba, Chester See, and Ryan Higa.
Cristal egged on the performers and audience members by motorboating breasts, providing lap dances, and presenting colorful life advice for the audience.
Carpenter hopes to continue preforming, strutting his platinum hair piece and bold eyeliner.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a one-time thing,” said Carpenter. “It was really cool to put on this whole other persona and to pay homage to some of my favorite songs and artists,” So for me to perform a Lady Gaga song, who is an inspiration to me, I would do it again in a heartbeat.”