Drag show gathers family, students
Ness and Lynn Pinaroc and their daughter Devin Pinaroc drove 15 hours to spend the eve of Easter watching their daughter perform in a drag show before celebrating the holiday as a family.
Residents of Oklahoma City, the Pinarocs traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to pick up their daughter from Vanderbilt University before coming up to St. Louis in time for Saturday night’s seventh annual drag show, held for the first time in the Danforth University Center.
“We thought this would be a good family event for Easter,” Ness Pinaroc said. “As parents, we’re very happy to see Washington University so open and supportive about alternative lifestyles.”
It was the family’s first drag show, and Siren, the local drag queen hosting the show, noted that they were possibly the most enthusiastic people in attendance. They said they were particularly excited by the students joining with the professional drag queens.
“It was very heartwarming to see so many students so enthusiastic in participating,” Pinaroc added.
The Pinarocs’ other daughter, Lauren Pinaroc, a senior whose drag personality Jonah led a conga line around Tisch Commons, said she was inspired to participate by Rydyr, one of the professional drag performers at Saturday’s event, whom she has seen at multiple shows over her last few years.
“I was a little nervous, but it was a lot of fun,” Lauren Pinaroc said. “I’ve dressed in drag, but I’ve never performed before. It was definitely nerve-wracking, but I’m glad I did it.”
Organizers said they had some apprehension about moving the show into a place as public and open as the DUC, but it went exactly as hoped—passing over some minor issues in the first half with the sound system.
“We were really hesitant to do it at a public location because we weren’t sure people would feel comfortable [with people] in drag, but so far it’s turned out really well,” senior Jenea Nixon, co-president of Pride Alliance, said. “It’s definitely nice to see a large population besides our general body coming out to support us.”
Pride Alliance Social Chair and sophomore Christian Gordon said the show’s purpose was not to make drag culture seem exotic but to use the show as a means to bring Pride Alliance to the larger campus community.
“The goal of tonight is just to kind of expose Wash. U. to a culture of our community and break them out of their bubble a little bit and have a lot of fun,” Gordon said. “It’s fun, and it’s different.”
“It’s just been getting bigger and bigger over the years,” Gordon added.
There were five professional performers and four student performers in the show, including both drag kings and queens. Several dozen students were in attendance, some of whom dressed in drag as well.
Host Siren used the opportunity to advertise both her social media presence @thatbitchsiren and Attitudes Nightclub, the local gay bar on Manchester Avenue.
Siren joked about the venue and attendees throughout the show, remarking that the DUC ceiling looked like a preschool and that Ann Tisch looked like Reba McEntire. Siren’s jokes touched on everything from mechanical engineering to Amish country.
“This show would really suck if we were all Amish because I’d just be screaming at you in the dark,” Siren said.
In addition to student dance performances, the show included a drag competition judged by audience applause.
Donning a sequined purple dress and high-heeled shoes, freshman Ethan Shen, using the stage name Chereece, won the competition.
It was his first drag show, and he plans to do it again each of his remaining years at the University. He said the most difficult part was dealing with the high heels.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing,” Shen said. “I was actually really busy this week, so I didn’t really practice it. So I just got on stage and did something.
“It was a great experience,” he added.
Students in attendance said they enjoyed the show, which for many of them was a first.
“I’ve never been to a drag show; we didn’t have those where I’m from,” freshman Schuyler Atkins, a member of Pride Alliance, said. “I didn’t know what to expect; I kind of thought I was going to a fashion show, but I really like that it’s like a performance. I want to go to more drag shows now. It’s just entertaining; it’s different.”
“I came out to support everyone,” freshman Ib Jagede, also in Pride Alliance, said. “I didn’t really come in with any expectations, but it’s been a lot of fun. I think all the different acts have been really cool. And it’s good to see people you know doing something different.”