As Baker Center Theater fills with exhilarated students, the stage will be teeming with talented local performers, bring-the-house-down musical numbers and, of course, high, high heels. That’s right, Ohio University: It’s time for another drag show.
For a $5 ticket, students can see four performers take the stage Monday at 7 p.m. in Baker Theater or watch the livestream on YouTube. The drag show kicks off Pride Week at OU and will star queens Plenty O’ Smiles, Sassy Frass and Kazma Knights. The show will also feature a drag king, AJ Spanks.
The show is a collaboration between Campus Involvement, Student Senate and the LGBT Center. Corbin Marsh, assistant director of programming, said the idea came from the enthusiasm at last fall’s Welcome Week drag show on South Beach.
“I really loved the drag show that we did in the fall and just think that it's really important to have representation on campus for the queer community, and I really wanted to be a part of that and keep that going,” Marsh said.
Marsh said he reached out to the LGBT Center in late fall and began coordinating with them, eventually also working with the Student Senate. Luvina Cooley, a junior studying anthropology and the communications coordinator for the LGBT Center, initially helped Marsh in planning the event. At the time, she was the LGBTQA+ affairs commissioner and, thus, was responsible for Pride Week programming.
The team decided to feature local performers from Athens or Columbus with three queens and one king. One of the queens, Kazma Knights, performed in the fall show and will be hosting this event.
“One of the performers and I — we actually grew up together from middle school to high school — graduated together and all that,” Knights said. “So, when this opportunity came about and they asked me, ‘Hey, do you know performers?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, we have to get Sassy for us because she's from this area as well.'”
Knights said she was excited to take the stage with an old friend, and the crowd should expect high energy from Sassy Frass.
“She's one of those performers that's gonna dance the house down — cartwheels, flips, you name it,” Knights said. “Whereas if I tried doing that, I would be on the floor, probably dead.”
Knights and Plenty O’ Smiles were both featured in last fall’s Welcome Week drag show, which Marsh said had roughly 1,000 students in attendance.
“There was this moment where everybody stormed the stage,” Marsh said of last fall’s performance. “This is after years of COVID, quarantine, everybody being sequestered to their homes and rooms and everything. And there was this moment of excitement where everyone just rushed the stage. As an event planner and a programmer, that electric feeling is just the best.”
Knights also recalled that moment, which happened during her second number.
“They were all at my feet, like down at the bottom,” Knights said. “They got so hyped up. I probably could have crowd surfed. It was epic.”
Cooley said the event will take place indoors, since spring weather can be unpredictable, but expects the electricity from last fall’s show to carry on.
This will be OU’s third drag show in the past several years, following last fall’s performance and another Welcome Week show in 2019. That performance was part of Cooley’s freshman year Welcome Week.
“That was indoors at Baker Ballroom, and that was super fun,” Cooley said. “It was my first one ever, and the energy at a drag show is unparalleled. I don't even have an accurate description for it because it's just so fun.”
The performance will be the first of many events for Pride Week. Cooley said there will be an event each of the following days, with a screening of Paris is Burning, a “Being Queer in the Workplace” presentation and more.
Students are encouraged to learn and attend any Pride Week events, although Marsh said he expects significant turnout for Monday’s show. He advised students to come prepared to tip, which will largely be done via Venmo given COVID-19 restrictions. Marsh said the $5 ticket helps ensure those who purchase tickets show up and support the queens and king, and he hopes many students commit to the event.
“I love drag shows,” Marsh said. “I've been a fan of them for a long time, and so I'm excited to have one on campus, and I'm excited for the students’ excitement. That is the best part of my job, seeing students have a fun time and seeing them get excited about something like this.”