Queens dazzle Tech’s campus at ‘24 drag show

Queens take a celebratory bow before the audience, closing the show. This year marks the Institute’s second annual drag show. // Photo by Madeline Dunn Student Publications

On Friday, Mar. 1, in collaboration with GT Pride Alliance, the Student Center Programs Council’s (SCPC) Concerts Committee hosted a Drag Show extravaganza in the Atlantic Theater, featuring a student opener and professional Atlanta drag queens.

“We did this event last year — everyone really loved it, a lot of people stopped by, so it was a no-brainer to do it again this year,” said SCPC Concerts Chair Riddhi Bhattacharya, third-year CHBE on the event’s origins. 

Once again, this year’s event wmet expectation. “I think one of the best parts about the drag show is that we have student openers who also do drag performances, and I think that helps us explore new perspectives and spread diversity,”  Bhattacharya said.

Student opener Emily Slusher, fourth-year CS, known to the drag world as Calibri Body, gave a dazzling performance, mixing their skills of comedy and dance into a whimsical musical storyline of a knight in shining armor saving their damsel in distress. 

At last year’s drag show, Calibri Body performed for the first time, and this is their third show since. Their Instagram page can be viewed at @calibrisbody.

They expressed gratitude to SCPC and Pride Alliance for this opportunity to explore as an artist. “I think it’s inspiring for students who may want to perform but don’t know what avenue they can take to do that, and they can see that it’s just fun! All drag is just fun,” Slusher said. 

Fun, fashion and fantasy were at center stage in this event. Atlanta pageant winner and drag daughter of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Jaida Essence Hall, Queen Essence Hall lip-synced and danced to a medley of upbeat music, showing off her charisma, makeup and acrobatic technique. 

“I know we have a Pride Month, but just know that Pride is 365 days. We celebrate who we are all year, not just one month,” Hall said on Pride celebrations.

Following Queen Essence Hall, Brigitte Bidet performed a set sprinkled with cheeky comedy and clever costume changes. Inspired by “the Moulin Rouge,” Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and Brigitte Bardot, Brigitte Bidet’s classic blonde look and vintage flair came from inspiration from dreams growing up. 

“It’s a lot of stuff I loved when I was little and performed in my bedroom, and now I can just live out that fantasy. I hope that you can find joy in your life because I think drag is an embodiment of queer joy, which I love,” Bidet said on their evolution in the art form.

Finally, queen LaLa Ri gave a passionate, playful and flirtatious performance adorned with feathers and glitter, ready to convert the audience into “Lalarinas.” She was a contestant on Season 13 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and Season 8 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.” The queen explained that she drew inspiration from Tina Turner, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Beyoncé, performing songs from Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” in their set. “‘Renaissance’ changed my life and made me who I am today,” they said emphasizing the impact. 

LaLa Ri had a direct message for the Tech community. 

“Don’t be afraid to try. Believe in yourself, and you will be able to take over the entire world. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re nothing because you are everything, my loves,” Ri said.

There was never a dull moment — between drag performances, GT Pride Alliance and SCPC engaged the audience with interactive games, charismatic emcees and a stream of upbeat songs. 

“Everything happens from minute-to-minute, so not only do the queens need to perform from minute-to-minute, but we also need to know where our volunteers are going to be, where they need to be stationed, sending people backstage, ensuring our emcees know that they have to cover content for time that lays over or time that goes missing from the previous act and just be[ing] on the spot,” Bhattacharya said. 

The student audience’s response to this performance was excited and joyful. The queens celebrated a birthday in the audience and responded to dozens of inquiries in the show’s ending question and answer session, allowing attendees with a chance to better understand the community. 

“I think [this event] open[s] up an avenue for a new type of art on campus. Drag is not widely accepted, and I think this presents a whole new part of queer art, which is really great for visibility,” Slusher said. 

The performers’ passion and joy for their art was truly inspiring. For more information on GT Pride Alliance and future events, visit their website at www.pride.gatech.edu. For more information on SCPC and future events, visit their website at www.studentcenter.gatech.edu/scpc.