Salt City serves up spice at annual Pride Union drag show finals

Pride Union serves up spice at drag show finals

At one of the country's biggest collegiate drag shows, SU students welcome 'RuPaul's Drag Race' contestants as guest judges for an evening of lip syncing, flying wigs and death dropping.
Published: March 6, 2019 | Updated: September 17th, 2019 at 10:00 pm
SU Drag Finals
Donna Tendo, one of the four finalists, performs after jumping off the stage.

Syracuse might be known as the Salt City, but it was serving up nothing but spice at Pride Union’s 17th Annual Drag Show Finals.

The biggest collegiate drag show in the country packed the Goldstein Auditorium of more than 1,000 people and a stage full of colorful queens from all over the board. American drag queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race season nine contestant Shea Coulee hosted the show alongside fellow RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist Pearl.

Coulee and Pearl were dressed to the nines, but their performances were an absolute 10 rating. Fellow guest judges, Hexxa and Cyber Larose, found it rather difficult to find flaws in each queen’s performance; they were impressed by each finalist’s ability to make good use of the auditorium space, including the 12 feet wide, 50 feet long stage.

SU Drag Finals
SU Drag Finals

The space created by the drag show is one that allows the LGBTQIA+ community to feel safe and accepted. It is important, say the queens, for institutions to maintain places that allow the community to freely express themselves in any way, shape, or form they’d like and to feel safe doing it.

“Keeping places safe is important, security is important,” Coulee expressed. “God is a woman and so is our security.”

Quincy Nolan, editor-in-chief of The OutCrowd and Diversity Affairs chair for Syracuse University Student Association, is an advocate for gender expression and queer representation. Nolan dedicated The OutCrowd’s Spring 2019 issue to the idea of freely and fluidly expressing oneself in today’s era of drag.

Nolan helped organize the show and opened it up with a performance dedicated to none other than Lady Gaga. In a nylon pink leotard, blonde wig, and white thigh high boots, Nolan twirled and death dropped to energetically remixed Gaga singles, such as “Bad Romance” and “Paparazzi”.

In between Nolan’s death drops and Hexxa’s splits, it is rather impressive that not one wig detached from a queen’s head throughout the show — the wigs of the very loud and proud audience members, however, is a different story.

Ultimately, these queens are doing more than just changing outfits and wigs at the end of the day; for some, these stars are changing people’s lives and giving them inspiration to unapologetically be their true selves out in the open.

“To dance an entire song and lipsync an entire set is not something a normal person can do. That takes someone extraordinary, and these queens were extraordinary,” Griffin Timm, sound technician and event production staff member for Student Center & Programming Services, said.

Sadly, while all of the drag queens are absolutely extraordinary and completely slayed the stage, only one queen can take home the crown, because unfortunately, “this is not All Stars 4, and there can only be one winner,” as Pearl explained.

SU Drag Finals
SU Drag Finals

Kalinda Kelly was declared the winner of the 17th Annual Drag Show by wowing not only the judges but the audience with her performance full of hip shaking and Latin influences. The rest of the queens did not go home completely empty-handed, however, and received a variety of products from Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line, because of course, much like the finalists’ performances, the brand is just as colorful and diverse, coming in all different shades on the spectrum.

Avatar for Ashley Johnson

is a staff producer for The NewsHouse and aspiring entertainment writer.

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is a photographer for The NewsHouse.