This Friday you won’t have to be a girl in order to wear a dress. Outlook is presenting its annual drag show competition, where both men and women can dress up in clothes of the opposite sex.
Twenty-nine-year-old and former NMU student Oren Lewis has been participating in the drag show since he was 21. He performs under the stage name Deanah Jaye. Lewis described the process he goes through in order to transform himself into the woman audience members will see on stage.
“I usually start about five hours before. If I use human hair [for a wig] I have it done three or four days beforehand, but this year I’m using synthetic so it’s going to be done the day of,” Lewis said. “It usually takes me two hours to do my make-up because you’ve got to get it just right.”
When it comes to the actual amateur competition, Lewis said there’s a difference between a drag queen and just a boy in a dress. Because of this, Lewis thinks the contest should be taken a bit more seriously.
“It’s supposed to be a drag contest, not a circus act. I think it should be based on your appearance, how you interact with everybody, your stage presence and how you can portray being a woman,” Lewis said. “It shouldn’t be, ‘I’m just gonna put on a garter belt, a boustier, not shave and just go on stage.'”
Lewis said that his favorite aspect of the drag show is simply performing and being in front of an audience. He also gave a bit of advice for those who may be considering participating in the show.
“Around here, there’s not really an outlet to do drag. Once a year is all we have,” Lewis said. “A lot of people are like, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this.’ If you want to dress up and be beautiful, then that’s what it’s all about.”
Behind the scenes of the drag show is junior Danielle Steffes, who is the head of the production and oversees all aspects of it. Steffes was involved with the show last year and partially the year before that.
Steffes said the professional queens that will be arriving on campus hail from Chicago and Milwaukee and two of them even coming from the Marquette community. Steffes also commented on the process it takes to get the drag show up and running.
“We have to first get the date, which entails looking at the events that are going to happen around the dates that we want it . We call the queens and see which ones we can get for that date,” Steffes said. “Then we have to go through all the budget things of how much do the queens want, how much does this all cost and then [we] head over to the SFC to get it funded.”
According to Steffes, to bring five professional drag queens to campus costs $4,000 to $4,500.
In addition to seeing the professional drag queens, students are more than welcome to come strut their stuff on stage. This aspect of the show, which takes place after the pros have shown what they’re made of, is a contest where the top three contestants can win prizes. Prizes include gift certificates from Casualties, Hot Plate, The Backroom and Impaled, among others.
Steffes said that those who feel drag shows may not be something they are interested in don’t know the true aspect of it.
“It’s just for fun,” Steffes said. “It’s something where you can really enjoy yourself and be who you want to be.”
Sophomore forensics biochemistry major Mindy Sambrook is a member of Outlook and is part of the security team for the drag show. Her job entails making sure students are seated and not going into any areas of the building they’re not supposed to.
Security may also be involved to handle any protestors who feel that an event like this is not appropriate. But Sambrook said that they have not yet received any threats like this so far.
“No one really comes and protests,” Sambrook said. “I do have friends who aren’t really approving of drag queens in general but they’re just like, ‘I’m not even gonna go.'”
When Outlook put on its first drag show it was held in a room in the University Center. Attendance has risen ever since and it is now being held in the Vandament Arena, which holds 1,400 to 1,800 people, according to Sambrook.
“Last year we had over 1,300 people show up,” Sambrook said. “I’m hoping for the same amount, if not more, to show up this year.”
Sambrook considers this rise in attendance to be due in part to the fact that people are becoming more accepting of gays and lesbians, in addition to those who are just curious about the event itself.
“I believe it does help people get an understanding of the group, other people on campus and why they are the way they are,” Sambrook said. “Part of the reason people aren’t accepting is because they don’t understand it.”
The drag show is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Vandament Arena. Doors open at 7:30.