The Stanford Drag Troupe, Stanford’s only student-led drag performance group, hosted its inaugural Drag Fest with the theme “Draglywood” on Friday. Featuring cameos from Stanford administrators, including Persis Drell and Mona Hicks, the show was full of fun and surprises. The atmosphere felt bubbly and exciting as students settled on Wilbur Field, waving tiny Pride flags or eating pierogies picked up from the free food trucks nearby.
Drag queens DeJa Skye and Bosco, stars from season 14 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” opened the show with sharp banter, setting a lighthearted tone to the night. They were followed by California-based drag artists Thai Teaze and Madd-Dogg 20/20, who performed lip-sync pieces that hyped up the crowd, priming the audience for the talented student performers that followed.
Stanford administrators made a special appearance at the end of the night. Mona Hicks, Persis Drell, Susie Brubaker Cole, Jeanette Smith-Laws and Shirley Everett emerged under the collective name “Dancing Queens,” decked out with big, colorful wigs, dramatic makeup and shimmering, sequined robes. They lip-synced to a medley of ABBA songs, including hits like “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen.”
Stanford’s drag artist Chaos X Machina performed an Old Hollywood, Marlene Dietrich-inspired striptease, smoking a cigarette on stage and straddling a chair as she peeled off her pants and sheer stockings. In an Avatar-themed performance, Thai Teaze returned to the stage to lip-sync to dialogue snippets from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and danced in an Azula costume while waving fiery, red-orange fans. And in a brilliant group performance, student drag artists Cicala, Zubaru, Latke and Daphne Summers joined together in a Moulin Rouge-like performance of “Lady Marmalade.”
One of the most innovative performances of the night was a Bollywood-themed piece performed by student drag artist Rashi. They emerged on stage, lip-syncing to the popular duet “You Are My Soniya.” As the song alternated between male and female voices, Rashi performed rapid costume changes between a leather outfit and a glittery red romper, essentially enacting a duet with one body.
The outfits, advised by Drag Troupe’s Earnest Lee, were characterized by a flair for Hollywood glamor and drama. Performers stepped out in tight corsets, sheer boudoir robes with feather-trimmed sleeves, film noir-esque pinstripe suits and bright sequined dresses. These costumes made the audience feel completely immersed in each film fantasy.
By the end of the night, the air felt suffused with a warm, joyous energy. It felt thrilling to witness the inaugural Drag Fest and to imagine what might follow in the coming years. To experience such an open-hearted, fun celebration of queerness was an absolute wonder.
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and contains subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.