Athens Uncorked, a low-key wine bar located at 14 Station St., has been hosting drag shows every month for about three years. But never before has it had a pageant.
Pageants are a staple of the world of drag; they allow queens to showcase their individuality and talent. Athens Uncorked will host the first Miss Uncorked Pageant on Friday, in which seven queens will compete to own the Miss Uncorked crown for the year.
“I think it’s really going to seal the representation of drag in Athens,” Chris Nevil, who performs as Kazma Knights, said.
If You Go:
What: First Annual Miss Uncorked Pageant
When: 8 p.m., Fri.
Where: Athens Uncorked, 14 Station St.
Admission: $6 cover
Having a pageant at Athens Uncorked is somewhat of a milestone. The shows have recently been gaining a larger student audience throughout this semester.
“We’re finally seeing that we’ve hit that market for students to start coming to our show,” Nevil said. “The inclusive environment is important, you know, since LGBT events are few and far between, and it’s nice to know when the events are.”
Kazma Knights is one of seven queens who will compete that night. Kazma Knights is a frequent performer at Athens Uncorked and is considered an Uncorked Doll.
The theme for the pageant is “Dream in Colors.” Contestants’ gowns and color choices are to reflect an issue or topic personal to them.
“Mine is on mental health awareness,” Nevil said. “Under-talked about, stigmatized, even more so in the LGBT community. Really nice for my personal awareness.”
Many drag queens make their own clothing, Nevil said. As a very time-consuming process, it is mostly done by full-time queens. As a part-time queen, Nevil bought his own dress and is rhinestoning it, however.
Hershae Chocolatae, a queen based in Toledo, will be a judge that evening. Chocolatae has judged more than 100 pageants in her career as a queen.
“We like to keep it poker faced and pay attention,” Chocolatae said. “You have to know your stuff. Sometimes it’s just opinion, but there's some technical things. If you don’t do it right, they won’t succeed as much.”
As someone who has competed in many pageants, Chocolatae knows both sides of a show.
“As a judge, I’ve taken away that during a pageant, you’re basically paying to be judged,” Chocolatae said. “Not everyone can take criticism, but effectively that’s my job for the night.”
Chocolatae advises queens to do their homework before competing. Though it may seem that pageantry is superficial, winning a pageant requires an attention to detail. Judges look for precision in performances and dress. Dresses must be a certain length, and technique is looked at in singing and dancing in the talent portion of the show.
“Be as clean as possible,” Chocolatae said.
After winning the crown, the queen will represent Athens Uncorked in other shows. “Miss Uncorked” will hold her title for a year and will perform wearing her crown at venues across the state.
Regardless of winning a crown or placing in any category, pageants are beneficial for up-and-coming queens, Chocolatae said.
“Remember that win, lose or draw, it doesn’t affect your name,” Chocalatae said.
Drag shows attract audiences of all kinds. Lexi Lape, a freshman studying creative writing, is a longtime fan of drag. As a resident of Bexley, Lape frequents drag shows at Axis Nightclub in Columbus.
“I love how it’s just a form of expression, and it breaks a lot of boundaries,” Lape said. “It challenges a lot of things that I think need to be challenged.”