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Drag Show entertains, emphasizes acceptance

October 17, 2014

Strobe lights, music and cheering broke the silence of the UW-River Falls streets last Friday night as the “Drag Show” celebrated its four-year anniversary on campus.

Drag queen from the Minneapolis Gay 90’s club Tawnya Tootsieroll lip-syncing to popular songs.
Drag queen from the Minneapolis Gay 90’s club Tawnya Tootsieroll lip-syncing to popular songs. (Maggie Sanders/Student Voice)

Every fall and spring semester, the UWRF Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club hosts the Drag Show to raise money for the St. Croix Valley Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), located in downtown River Falls. The mission of SART is to “provide forensic health care, education, protection and advocacy for sexual assault victims and the community,” according the SART website.

Students lined up early in the University Center to secure their spot for the show in the Falcon’s Nest. There was hardly an empty seat or a place to stand once the doors opened. Students and audience members crowded around the stage with money in hand to give to the performers.

Erin McNiff, client services coordinator for SART, said that the organization helps sexual assault victims in a variety of ways.

“We have nurses that collect evidence for victims, we have volunteers and advocates that work with them right away after the assault happens and we work with them to help them get back on track for their recovery,” McNiff said.

One in four females and one in six males are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime, and it does happen in the River Falls community, according to McNiff.

The Drag Show brought in $387 for SART this year, which was donated by audience members during and after the show, according to Garrett Finn, the treasurer of GSA.

Professional performers from the Gay 90’s (a nightclub located in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota) and other places outside of the Twin Cities are brought in to run the show. Students from UWRF perform as well.

This year, Theta Chi members returned to the stage for a crowd-pleasing number, and the UWRF Dance Theatre made its first appearance.

Chloe Brevik-Rich, a UWRF student and a member of Dance Theatre, said she enjoyed being a part of such an amazing event.

“You get to work with all these incredible women, and it’s a thrill just being on stage performing your heart out,” Brevik- Rich said.

The captive audience laughed, clapped and groaned at the crude jokes, upbeat songs and inspirational words from the performers. The theme of the night was love and acceptance of everyone regardless of who they are or what they believe.

Audience member Joe (left) was brought up on stage by Christina Jackson (right), a drag queen from Minneapolis Gay 90’s club, who aimed crude jokes at Joe. Joe took the jokes well, and held Jackson in his arms. Jackson then made a speech about acceptance.
Audience member Joe (left) was brought up on stage by Christina Jackson (right), a drag queen from Minneapolis Gay 90’s club, who aimed crude jokes at Joe. Joe took the jokes well, and held Jackson in his arms. Jackson then made a speech about acceptance. (Maggie Sanders/Student Voice)

Christina Jackson, a returning performer from the Gay 90’s, emphasized that love is love and that one of the big reasons the performers keep coming back every year is because of how accepting the audience members are of the differences among people.

“My favorite part of performing at River Falls is seeing all the people that come together regardless of their orientation or their beliefs, and they come here to have a good time and raise money for a good cause,” Jackson said.

Carter Rock, a UWRF student and an audience member, said he had never been to the Drag Show before, but he came to the show this year with a group of his friends because he knows a couple of the performers.

“We all decided as a group to go support them and watch [the performance],” Rock said.

Carmen Love, a returning performer from the Gay 90’s, said the best part of performing at UWRF is the people involved. “The energy that everyone brings is fantastic and I will never give it up,” Love said.

A lot of work goes into putting on such a high-profile show. Audrie Ann Schlecht, the GSA representative, said the entire GSA executive board planned the whole event starting in September.

“We rented the space, we made the line-up, we planned it all and made sure the whole thing went smoothly throughout the show, as well,” Schlecht said.

Students can expect the drag show to come back during spring semester. For more information about SART, visit stcroixvalleysart. org.