There is more than meets the eye when it comes to some of Radford University’s best students, and that’s what the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) set out to raise awareness of with the Queen of Hearts Drag Show last Friday night.
The main event was a cross between a fashion show and a gentleman’s club. It was held in the Muse Banquet Hall and went from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. DJ Triple Threat was on stage around 7:30 p.m. and loosened up the crowd with dancing and popular rap songs before the main event kicked off.
The night’s host appeared from back stage in a long black dress and stilettos. RU grad student Darius Cureton, who goes by the stage name Care Dhor, has been trying to get this event to happen since last semester. Despite issues with performers not showing up and the blizzard, it all came together Friday with the backing of the CDI.
Crasha Townsend, director of the CDI, helped Dhor organize the event and provided funding. This is the first such event that the CDI has had the opportunity to put on. RU Dining Services prepared finger foods, punch, a chocolate fountain and soft pretzels with cheese sauce for the night.
For Townsend, the event was a culmination and realization of “the inclusive environment that we have (at RU).”
After some audience participation, in the form of a dance competition that even got the DJ out from behind the table for a few minutes, Dhor dimmed the lights and introduced the first of three other performers.
Crystal Colby, wearing a tiny gold one-piece outfit and wild wig, strutted on to the stage and down the runway, eliciting uproarious cheers from the audience. After doing an impressive and surprisingly flexible split on stage, the crowd was on their feet pitching $1 bills. ‘Tipping’ is typical at drag shows, according to Townsend, and gives the performers confidence.
“Well, she definitely set the tone for the night,” exclaimed Dhor, after Colby’s first performance came to an end. Next up was Necole Davenport, whose male identity was not revealed. Cruising in from behind the audience, and trailed by two male dancers in cut-off jean shorts, Davenport made a dramatic entrance. A synchronized dance routine and some singing coaxed the audience onto their feet and prompted more dollar throwing.
“Tipping is greatly appreciated, but it is not necessary,” Dhor reminded the audience between performances. Other than Dhor, the other drag queens and one king had come to Radford from as far away as Roanoke and North Carolina.
Anton Black, the only drag king at the event, followed a routine done by Dhor. Audience members wearing ‘Team Anton’ t-shirts were in the front row for this performance. Black, who is a woman that dresses and performs as a man, even sported a shaved head and beard for the night.
Davenport made another performance as well, but the showstopper was Colby’s second turn on stage. DJ Triple Threat started playing “Peacock” by Katy Perry and Colby burst onto the runway in a flamboyant show-girl style costume adorned with feathers and colorful tassels. Camera flashes and loud cheers erupted from the audience as she danced and sang along with the song.
“I love that the energy has stayed high,” commented Townsend during the shows intermission. Truly the energy was through the roof all night. More than a few times, girls from the crowd got up to dance along with the drag queens or each other. Dhor even mediated a few spontaneous “twerking” competitions. The students who attended certainly left with smiles on their faces and tales to recount to their friends.
“We came to support our friend Darius,” said Colbert Osei-Owusu, a sophomore who knows Dhor outside of her stage persona. The friends met last semester when Dhor transferred to RU, and Osei-Owusu was there to participate in raising awareness for such a small but vibrantly diverse group of RU’s community.
“It’s been an excellent turnout,” said Townsend. “I think everybody has enjoyed their experience with a really interactive crowd.”
An attendance of between 100 and 200 people was more than the event organizers had anticipated, and an overwhelmingly positive response was apparent from those who came. For a school like RU and the performers, this was quite a big step in the direction of raising awareness and understanding of a lifestyle that draws plenty of attention nationally.