Fox drag show attracts public attention
By Jenna Johnstone
photo by Dave Hager
Sharon D'Knight wows audiences at Fox's
first ever drag show March 14.
UW-Fox hosted a drag show in the Lucia Baehman theatre March 14.
The event was sponsored by the Campus Activities Board (CAB) in cooperation with UW-Fox's GSA and the student activities office.
The show featured Shangela Laquifa Wadley, who was a contestant on the television show RuPaul's Drag Race and guest starred on Glee, Community and The Mentalist.
Wadley is one of the most recognized names in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Former Miss Gay Wisconsin Mi Ami Knight and other local queens took the stage during the show.
The performance was sold out, thanks in part to Dan Savage, who purchased the tickets to give away for free after the pro-family group Wisconsin Family Action complained that the show promoted a homosexual agenda.
Savage and husband Terry Miller are known for heading the It Gets Better Project, a campaign designed to combat bullying and prevent gay youth suicides.
Despite opposition, the show garnered a high turnout.
Erick Gyrion, technical director for UW-Fox's theatre department, played the show's M.C. under his drag name Tres Demaj.
Most of the UW-Fox community welcomed the show and performers.
"This idea was brought up a few times when I was CAB president and it never happened. I'm happy to see it happen now. It makes me upset people are against this. There were a lot of things I was ideologically against until I came to UW-Fox and became more liberal," Robert Baehman, student activities director, said.
"[The show] brings diversity…it's important to expose people to different things," freshman Katana Goss said.
Attendees were entertained by the high energy and personality of the show.
"It was so much fun. Amazing, beyond what I expected. We didn't really know what we were coming into. I would definitely come to another show," sophomore Josi Staedt said.
"It was really good. It was very entertaining and [full of] high energy," Melissa Pierson, a UW-Oshkosh sophomore said.
Other attendees enjoyed the most intense moments of the show.
"Oh my gosh, the death drops! When Mi Ami Knight death dropped, she did it right in front of me and I almost peed myself," Nicholas Lamers, freshman and GSA member, said.
"It was really funny, really entertaining, and it was really motivational too."
The show surprised some.
"I loved it. It was very entertaining and very eye-popping how some men can look prettier than most girls," Cameron Tipler of Kaukauna, said.
Some community members came to see the celebrities.
"I heard about the show through a friend whose hair I was doing the other day. I watched RuPaul's Drag Race religiously and I couldn't pass up on this opportunity to see Shangela," Neenah resident Jermaine Moore said.
"I'm hoping to get the motivation to get back into drag, because I used to do drag."
"Shangela told me I'm a diva, my life is complete," Lamers said.
The show also attracted students from nearby campuses.
"I heard about the show through a poster at UW-Oshkosh. It was well-advertised there," Jack Malifzewski, a sophomore at UW-Oshkosh said.
photo by Dave Hager
UW-Fox theatre director Erick Gyrion
works the crowd under his drag persona
Tres Demaj March 14.
"I heard about it through the LGBT center at UW-Oshkosh. I came to see Mi Ami Knight from Green Bay, and Shangela," Micah Coates, UW-Oshkosh freshman said.
A group of six community members protested the event outside before it began.
"This is at least being partially subsidized by taxpayers, this is preposterous. If someone wants to do this and put this up with their own money well that's one thing, but when I have to pay for it, when my friends and other people in the community have to subsidize this kind of garbage, that's just way beyond tolerable," Al Doyle of Oshkosh, said.
"Well, I can't tell you that it makes them homosexuals, though I know that the drag thing is very big in homosexual circles. We came out to protest homosexuality and sodomy," Kelly Harris of Bonduel, said.
Some protesters had a religious agenda.
"We want to raise awareness and possibly witness the gospel to some people. I mean that's the only thing that's going to save everybody from sin, and that is the blood of Jesus Christ," Harris said.
Attendees and UW-Fox students disagreed with protesters.
"I think everyone has their own opinion and their own right to have it, but when it's not a violent cause it shouldn't be protested," Lamers said.
"They were saying stuff about how the show promotes the homosexual agenda, like the UW campuses support homosexuals, which they said like it's a bad thing, but I think a UW school or a public school should support everybody."
Some attendees did not let the protesters bother them.
"They have their opinion, we have our own. I hope they're out there enjoying themselves," UW-Oshkosh sophomore Ana Castes, said.
Other attendees were more upset by the protests.
"I hate them. I just wanted to get out of the car and ask them what is wrong with this. I don't see a problem," Misty Ottman of Kaukauna, said.
The show ended on a positive message and the performers were thankful to the community.
"It's about standing up and showing we are united and we all believe in equal rights," Shangela said.