The seventh annual “Drag Extravaganza” dominated the Great Room

Condragulations on a night of fun, electricity and lip sync battles

Eiluj Negratude '23 looking good for the camera // Photo by Noa Lesche

The world of drag has been dominating television thanks to “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” but the performance art dominated the Great Room as well this past weekend. The seventh annual “Drag Extravaganza” electrified audience members and the Muhlenberg community on Saturday, Apr. 23. The Great Room was filled with pride flags, confetti, vibrant lighting, food and even alcohol for attendees of age.

The doors opened at 9:30 p.m. and the line was out the door to the entrance of Seegers Union with excited attendees of the show. The Great Room then opened and audience members stormed into the space, grabbing their seats on the floor, at tables or anywhere where there was space. The song selections helped to liven up the environment with “Coconuts” by Kim Petra and “Sissy That Walk” by the queen of drag, RuPaul.

The five drag performers then entered with a fashionably late opening and vibrant outfits to liven up the space. Ben Dover, portrayed by Rebecca Ostrow ‘20, the host for the event, introduced the audience to the beautiful and exciting drag queens, kings and everything in between. The drag performers were then met with thunderous claps of applause. 

“The audience was so loud and large that it made it feel like we were on an island and it was so energetic it was electric,” stated Hannah Michelson ‘22, an audience member.

Members of the crowd cheered on the performers and shook the house with their excitement and support.

“I was shocked at the amount of people who came out, and I wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time so it really pushed me to give it my all.”

– Nora Hardee ‘22

“The audience absolutely energized the whole show! We have been rehearsing these songs for each other and in our rooms alone, and doing drag in silence is just not that fun. I was shocked at the amount of people who came out, and I wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time so it really pushed me to give it my all,” stated Nora Hardee ‘22, a drag king.

Hardee dominated the stage as Payne Blagel, a clever pun on the classic bagel, showcased a masculine costume with leather straps and even a strap-on dildo. Ben Dover reminded audiences that the entire costume was paid for by ‘Berg, resulting in an eruption of applause from the audience.

Hardee declared, “While I chose ‘I Just Had Sex’ for my first song because of the silliness and the story that it had, I actually chose ‘Where Them Girls At’ for the finale because it has been a favorite pump-up song between myself and my roommates! Not to mention, it gave me a chance to get all of the queens to join me on stage.”

Other songs included “Alice” by Lady Gaga, “Hypnotico” by Jennifer Lopez and more. The “Drag Extravaganza” included lip sync performances that continued the famous drag traditions of “Rupaul’s Drag Race” while also allowing for exciting audience participation.

Benji Eber ‘23, the current Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President, took to the stage to partake in the lip sync competition. Luke Poleway ‘22 and Eber battled it out against the pop music hit, “Telephone” by Lady Gaga featuring Beyoncé.

“Going up on stage, it was definitely unexpected, but I had a fun time even though I was not the best dancer up there,” stated Eber.

Both of the lip sync battles embodied the iconic quote by RuPaul, “Don’t fuck it up.” 

Eber added, “It was a really great opportunity to see all the different drag performers and see SGA’s money put to good use in a great community that needs uplifting.”

The other lip sync battle featured an exhilarating battle between Byrson Brunson ‘25 and Zach Rabishaw ‘22, who joined the night as Matzah Bell. Their iconic song was “Toxic” by the one and only Britney Spears.

Michelson continued, “My favorite drag performer was either Mustafa Hall [‘23]’s performance and the audience performer Bryson Brunson [‘25] showed up and ate!”

Hall took audience members to Wonderland with their dragsona, Eiluj Negritude, and helped to plan the event with Edwin Alvarez ‘22, who portrayed Santa Maria.

“Because I did ‘Alice’ by Lady Gaga, I knew I had to take some elements from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ without making it tacky,” stated Hall. “I also really wanted to do a very psychedelic, acid trip kind of vibe with my makeup and with parts of my outfit. So I really wanted a lot of color, a lot of sparkle, a lot of pop.”

The costumes for every performer helped to highlight the electricity of each song and extended the energy of the evening. The props also helped to add even more fun energy, such as the steering wheel for Betty Bottoms’ iconic performance with “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood thanks to Jeff Varrone ‘22. The wigs were also another key factor, such as the blue wig for Baby Blue, portrayed by Nico Bittker ‘22.

“I wanted every element of the show to be very queer.”

– Mustafa Hall ’23

Hall made sure to accomplish this with colorful and vibrant costume pieces. “I reflected that in my shoes, the biker shorts I was wearing, the mesh shirt I was wearing, was very blue, very purple, elements of green and also just a very bold face makeup look,” continued Hall. 

Michelson finalized, “My favorite part was the unapologetic celebration of queer culture and life on campus, I just felt like I could be loud and myself while enjoying it with my friends.”

“Each and every one of us had a different persona which embodies the variety of the queer community and how unique everyone is. But I also feel the music that we chose, the playlist, I specifically wanted to be powered by queer people and queer artists. I wanted every element of the show to be very queer,” concluded Hall. 

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Johnny '24 is a Theatre and Media and Communication double major at 'Berg. He loves to highlight the voices of artists across campus and to showcase the wide variety of events at Muhlenberg. He likes to think he is funny, but that is up for debate.


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