Not a single chair or table was open in the Johnson Center at 9 p.m. on April 5. Students were leaning against the kiosks near the Atrium’s pop-up stage, and some were even lined up along the walkways, trying to do anything to avoid being stuck viewing the annual PRIDE Week Drag Show on the second floor of the JC Atrium.
The PRIDE Week Drag Show is held at the end of Mason’s PRIDE Week. PRIDE Week takes place every April, and is Mason’s way of celebrating an anniversary of the active movement toward human rights for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, which began in 1969 and the early 1970s. The drag show is an anticipated event — co-sponsored by the Office of LGBTQ Resources, Weekends at Mason, and the Patriot Activities Council — and features not only Mason student entertainers, but drag queens and kings from the D.C. area.
“[The Drag Show] represents a fun and entertaining side of the week,” said Alex Gant, the coordinator and emcee of the drag show. “PRIDE Week is a mix of serious discussion about rights and activism, addressing the challenges that face LGBTQ identified people and how to move forward for equality and justice for the LGBTQ community. It is full of all different types of events, and the drag show represents the entertaining and fun performance of gender. Drag is something that makes a caricature of traditional and stereotypical gender roles, which is something that directly impacts the LGBTQ community.”
Pandora Boxx, a professional entertainer and drag queen from season two of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” was the co-host of this year’s drag show. Through humorous performances of her own, like the impersonations of Kristen Wiig from the film “Bridesmaids,” and the banter created on-stage, Pandora made the show a light-hearted event.
“I love the people here at George Mason University!” shouted Pandora on stage, who pumped up the school spirit and Patriot pride at the event.
Gant and Pandora introduced 16 performances for this year’s drag show, making the event last nearly three hours. The performances included student performers, such as: Amanda Playswith, Jessabelle and BJ Bottoms, Mona Ryder and Penelope Kills.
“I like to mix up the drag kings, drag queens, bio king and bio queen numbers, fast paced and slower paced numbers and engaging numbers versus not as engaging numbers to make a great flowing two and a half hour set,” said Gant.
Professional D.C. drag queens and kings also got to run the stage. Performers like E-Clef, Mister Gay Mid-Atlantic United States Xavier Bottoms, Destiny B. Childs, Regina Jozet Adams and Ophelia Bottoms perform regularly in the D.C. area, and for some, this is not their first time at Mason’s PRIDE Week Drag Show.
“The audience this year really loved Pandora Boxx, and a lot of the audience members know some of the performers from previous years,” Gant said.
PRIDE Week events were held throughout the week of March 31-April 7. Holding the drag show at the end of the week was deliberate.
“It helps to encourage folks to see the strong LGBTQ and ally community at Mason,” Gant said. “We invite students to see the event and feel welcome to watch and participate in the event.”