May the best woman speak: local drag queens take the stage

(Left to right) Elektra Fearce St. James, Georgia Versace Coture, Shanae St. Cartier. Emma Forgione/The Muhlenberg Weekly

On Thursday, Nov. 9, I had the pleasure of attending the Realitea: Drag Panel hosted by the Muhlenberg Theater Association and the Office of Multicultural Life. It was quite the treat to hear stories from three talented drag queens right out of Allentown. The conversation was facilitated by Evan Brooks ‘18 and alum Malcom McClain ‘17 and touched on everything from the history of drag culture and tensions faced in the drag community to names, personal anecdotes and much more!  

The queens we heard from were Elektra Fearce St. James, Georgia Versace Couture and Shanae St. Cartier, each with their own interesting stories and perspectives. The premier questions were about each one getting her start in drag, finding drag families and choosing drag names.  Some hilarious stories were exchanged; for example, Georgia had to go through a slew of people arguing about her drag names just to end up with the exact names she started with.

Elektra Fearce St. James
Emma Forgione/The Muhlenberg Weekly

Questions were then asked about transphobia in the drag community as well as issues of fetishization. Shanae, who is the only queen out of the three to identify as trans, shared personal discrimination stories. She said that on stage it doesn’t matter what body parts she has; as long as she has the audience with her, she does her thing. But backstage, there are other queens who would feel uncomfortable with her in the room. All three also spoke of issues of fetishization in their personal lives, with strangers asking violating questions and seeking inappropriate attention.

The queens then got to talking about their performance art: why they perform and how they perform for different audiences. Georgia started speaking on how she changes certain aspects of her performance for different audiences, i.e. performing at the club versus performing at a nursing home. “All have to do is literally change just a tiny bit of your personality to fit the genre that your audience is formatted for,” she said. “You really have to know your audience because that’s gonna give you the power to emote your energy to them when you’re on stage.”

Elektra then spoke to why she loves performing. She said,  “It’s a place you get to be something else at least for three to six minutes. I’m just gonna channel my energy, my frustrations, my passions, my everything, into my music ….”

The queens then got into talking about Stonewall in Allentown, discussing everything from some great stories about finding out it was haunted to recollections of crazy nights at Allentown’s favorite club.

Malcolm McClain ’17 (left) and Evan Brooks ’18 (right)
Emma Forgione/The Muhlenberg Weekly

The questions were then opened up to the audience, which led to Georgia telling a very eloquent history of how the Stonewall riots started in NYC. “Any owner that had an establishment within the city [was] pressured and, you know, pretty much forced into paying police officers to let them know when homosexuals would come into the establishment; they would tip off the police, the police would show up, and they would raid it. Things would not be very pretty, it’s not a very polite raid. People were getting hurt. People were getting killed. Just because they were gay. Okay. It was a drag queen, in New York City, at the Stonewall, that finally said ‘Stop it.’ She took her shoe off, threw it at the police officer, and that’s what started [the] New York Gay Rights Activist March of the 70s. From a drag queen. From Stonewall.”

The talk ended with comments about wigs, makeup, buying shoes and other fun details that were inspiring for future drag performers, many of whom were in the audience. Be sure to attend Muhlenberg Nights at Stonewall to see these amazing performers!


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