Heels, wigs, leather, hats: CWU’s annual drag shows feature amateurs and professionals to celebrate queer Pride


Amateur drag performers pose in front of a balloon of rainbows after leaving it all on the floor for the audience. Photo by Katherine Camarata

Katherine Camarata, Lead Editor

High-heeled boots, wigs, crystals, razzmatazz and death drops were on fullest display as the amateur drag show was off to a bang on the SURC west patio on May 29. 

The show hosted by Equality through Queers and Allies (EQuAL) was an exuberant kick-off to CWU’s Pride week, where students had an opportunity to showcase their gender expression in a non-conforming and vibrant fashion as the crowd lost it. The show was hosted by ASCWU President Elect and Equity and Services Council (ESC) representative for EQuAL, Malik Cantú, who set the tone by asking everybody to keep it fabulous and fresh. 

“I hope that people who signed up to perform feel like they are seen and can express themselves,” Program Assistant for Diversity and Social Justice and event organizer Jess Eavenson said. “I hope people on campus get to see themselves in the performances.”

First to take command of the space for the amateur show was Mikayla Hunt, a drag queen who whipped her wig around and dropped into the splits on multiple occasions, all in heels, serving their own brand of slay-age to a fit of cheers.

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  • Sugar Tits hosted the professional drag show. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • The professional drag show featured a Dolly Parton-themed act. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • The professional drag show featured a Sailor Moon act. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • Count Dragula prepared to perform with their fan on display. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • EQuAL and Q*Fam members offered free fans, flags and swag at the show. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • Mikayla Hunt made the crowd go wild with dance moves and death drops. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • Judas the Baslayer performed drag for the first time at the amateur show on May 29. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • Crow’s King took the stage with flag twirling. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • ASCWU President Elect and ESC representative for EQuAL Malik Cantu posed in front of the rainbow. Photo by Katherine Camarata

  • Judas the Baslayer performed drag for the first time at the amateur show on May 29. Photo by Katherine Camarata

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“The first time I ever got into drag, it was a beginner costuming class for the theater program and it was actually my final … and I fell in love with it from there,” Hunt said. “It’s definitely just a place for me to express inner identity. I look up to Trixie Mattell, Trinity the Tuck, obsessed, I love Kameron Michaels. I also really look up to my mom, she’s my inspiration for everything I do.”

The camp continued with an emotional performance by first-time drag king, first year musical theater major and fan-favorite Judas the Baslayer, who was cited as a highlight by three interviewees. Judas the Baslayer’s face jewels were pristinely glued along her eyes and her cheeks were contoured to the heavens as she spoke about how she got into drag.

“It was fall quarter and I went to see the professional drag show, and seeing the queens was so amazing and life changing, and then the kings came out,” Judas said. “I ascended, I was like in a different dimension. I was like, ‘oh, I have to do this, I have to participate’ … I had been practicing alone in my room so then actually getting on stage, I had so much nervous energy, and then I get there and it all just instantly went away. There’s nothing quite like performance.”

Judas the Baslayer said drag is a way to push back against societal norms in terms of gender.

“To me, drag means … taking what we perceive as male and putting my own spin on it and expressing, how do I perceive gender in this world that is heavy on gender stereotypes, how can I personally twist that to make it my own,” Judas said. “I really hope that I inspire somebody to think about maybe getting into drag. I just want to inspire people, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Summer Hartoon, a freshman in elementary education, said this was their very first time attending a drag show and it wouldn’t be the last.

“I’ve always been interested in drag shows, I think they’re amazing,” Hartoon said. “I loved this one so much, I’m definitely going to the professional one. With everything going on right now, a lot of people think that drag is this bad thing when in reality, it’s not bad.”

Eavenson and Sam Mena, a third year in public policy and political science and ESC representative elect for EQuAL, both cited Crow’s King as a favorite, who performed with a flag-twirling special ending. 

“I really liked what Crow’s King did with the flag,” Eavenson said. “I saw him with it when we were setting up, but to see what he actually did with it was really cool.”

Mena cheered on the queens and kings during the show and expressed their hopes for the event.

“I hope that it allows people who identify as allies to learn a little bit more,” Mena said. “I just want people to have a good time. Pride is great, be a good ally, don’t be a hater.”

After several performances by queens and kings, the event was wrapped up and Cantu announced the impending professional drag show.

“We are coming off of both COVID happening and then last year, we got our power out from the lightning, so this will be the first time, fingers crossed, in a couple years that we get to have our professional drag show tonight,” Eavenson said.

Later that evening, the SURC Ballroom hosted a slew of professional drag queens from around Washington who sashayed across the stage in splendor, accepting waving dollar bills as they danced and cartwheeled down the aisle. The drag queens performed for three hours with intermissions, hosted by Sugar Tits, who said her favorite part of the evening was hearing all the screams and the “constant validation” from the audience. She emphasized the inclusivity of the art form and their show.

“A lot of us here are not just gay, cis[gendered] men, I’m a trans woman,” Sugar Tits said. “It’s a little mixture of everything. You don’t have to conform to do it. It is literally for everybody.”

During the show, Sugar Tits announced that Texas banned drag shows while their performance was happening, as evidenced by CBS News Texas coverage. Sugar Tits left students with one strong suggestion: “Vote. For the trans kids. Trans people are protected under our [Washington’s] constitution, but in other states, they’re not.” 

Cantú said their favorite part of the event was simply being able to participate again and be part of the show, because they ran the spotlight for the first time.

“I’ve been putting in the work for this show from beginning to end,” Cantú said.

Eavenson left queer students with some words of support: “We’re here for you. Ellensburg might be scary for people who are from a larger city where it’s more queer friendly, but we do what we can.”