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Athena Raynn performs at Thread Magazine's Queens for Seams Drag Show at The Union, Dec. 7, 2023, Athens, Ohio.

‘Queens for Seams’ bring holiday joy to Athens

The Athens drag scene is one that simply cannot be ignored. Four different drag queens came together at The Union Bar, located at 18 W Union St., on Thursday evening for the “Queens for Seams” drag show, put on by Thread Magazine. The show was undeniably one that everyone could enjoy, with queens Rayley Saphron, Judy Chiffon, Viola Braider Knights and Athena Raynn headlining the show

Fans waited outside the venue for the show’s Q&A to start at 8:30 p.m. and enjoyed the array of performances from 9-11 p.m. For people ages 21 and over, the price to enter was $8, and for everyone else, $10.

Saphron, the first performer of the night, stunned the audience with her vocal performance of “DJ Play a Christmas Song” by Cher. Saphron’s vocals and stunning, sparkly green dress and red cape brought holiday joy to all who watched the performance. 

Saphron’s second number, where she lip-synced and danced to “This is Real by Jax Jones and Ella Henderson, amplified her love of beauty, elegance, femininity and sparkles. She emitted confidence as she strutted across the stage. The crowd loved her moves and sass throughout her two performances. 

Saphron loves drag because of the joy she brings people through her performances. 

“One thing I love about life is seeing people happy and excited,” she said. “When I'm on stage, I see people excited, happy and kind of just forgetting their outside life.” 

Chiffon, a queen with a more vintage style than other modern queens, dazzled the crowd next. She’s a queen who used a combination of dancing, singing and lipsyncing: a triple threat. Her vibe combined a 1950s housewife with the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood.

She sewed her costumes and firmly believes in loving “vintage fashion, but not vintage values.” Judy Garland, famously known for her role as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” inspires Chiffon's take on femininity. Her essence can be described as “a fashion mannequin come to life.” The stunning black dress she wore for her performances was hand-made, which she was sure to call out during her performance. 

Chiffon’s gratitude isn’t just limited to her trusty sewing machine, however. 

“I'm very grateful for where I am and for the people that I've encountered,” she said. “I just like to enter a space letting people know who have helped me that I'm grateful.”

Chiffon’s first performance of the evening was a lipsync of the song “Venus, an upbeat hit from Lady Gaga’s 2013 album, Artpop. Her vocal performance of “Rain on My Parade,” which originated in the Broadway show “Funny Girl,” brought the crowd to a standstill. Her combination of choreography, vocals and emotion enchanted the crowd. 

Knights, a fairly new queen to the Athens drag scene, brought comedy into the mix. Her performance was a bit less PG than the other queens performing. Her makeup is inspired by world-famous drag queen Trixie Mattel, with a glamorous and over-the-top style.

Her first set was purely comical, with a curated mix that incorporated some raunchy music with clips from the children’s show “Peppa Pig.” Knights’ second set was a mix of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” and clips from Jim Carrey’s performance in the live-action Grinch film. Overall, her vibe encapsulates mature comedy and the traditional drag looks that many associate with “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Raynn followed and brought holiday joy to the crowd, through her original mix of Christmas songs with dialogue from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” The performance, which boasted hits like “All I Want for Christmas is You,” had the crowd singing along with excitement and holiday cheer. For this number, she wore a white, snowflake-esque ensemble. Raynn’s other performance was an upbeat lip-sync to Kylie Minogue’s “Supernova.”

Raynn enjoys being a part of the Athens community, which her name is a testament to. 

“I love sharing this experience with other people, especially (Thursday) when so many people were coming up to me and having conversations about things that are happening in the world,” she said. “Conversations about them potentially starting drag or just saying how much fun they had.” 

As a response to recent drag bans that have been enacted across the U.S., Queens like Knights •became involved with drag as an act of advocacy to fight for justice for the LGBTQIA+ community. 

“It’s not just a ban on drag queens,” Knights said. “It’s a ban on trans individuals.”  

All four queens echoed the same sentiment: Drag shows are meant to be inclusive spaces for all. 

“Drag is for everyone,” Raynn said. “It doesn’t matter what gender you are, what sex you are, what color you are. Drag is for everybody, and it’s great.”

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