McDaniel Hosts First Drag Show

It’s a combination of Halloween and a fashion show.  People dress up in costumes and strut their stuff to music.  The emcee introduces and offers some commentary during each performance.  This seems like a typical boring show, right?


Think again.


Drag shows have grown in popularity around the nation in the past decade.  On Tuesday, April 9, McDaniel hosted its first ever drag show, featuring three professionals and two McDaniel students.


And what a show it was.


I’ve never been to one of these things before, so this was a completely new experience for me.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about seeing guys overuse makeup and dress in skimpy girl clothing.  When the first performer, “Anita Minnett,” came out lip syncing various songs, such as “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from Grease and “Survivor” by Beyoncé, I didn’t know what to think.  Honestly, I was a little freaked out.  People call this entertainment?  A cross dressed guy flailing his arms around acting like he can dance?  What has our society come to?  I almost got up and left.


But oddly, it was intriguing enough to keep my attention, so I stayed and watched the other performers.


“Pamela de la Cruz,” as “she” is called, came out dancing to a Latin tune, and lost “her” skirt about halfway through the song.  Yes, “she” was covered underneath.  I kept thinking to myself “people find this entertaining?”  The one performer who definitely caught my attention was “Karmella,” who ended up doing high kicks and splits.  I have to admit, that was pretty impressive.  I give “her” major props for that.


About halfway through the first act, the audience found out that there was a nine year-old girl in the audience.  Everyone, of course, said “awwww!”  My first thought?  Who in their right mind brings a nine year-old to a drag show?  I was feeling uncomfortable being there, so I can’t imagine how she was feeling, especially since the “girls” kept calling each other bitches (in a loving way, of course), and using other profanities.


Needless to say, I ended up having a good time at this show.  It was quite the experience, but I’m not sure I’d jump at the opportunity to go to another one.  The audience expressed interest in having another one next year, so if you’ve never been to a drag show before, you should definitely check it out.


And just FYI, keep some dollar bills on you.  Those ladies love their tips.



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14 Comments on "McDaniel Hosts First Drag Show"

  1. Wait, do people find your writing entertaining?

    • I just want the record to reflect that the writer of that comment is not the same Emily who co-directed the show. The directorial staff have no comment on this article or the responses to it at this time.

  2. This is the worst, most biased, and most uninformed article discussing drag culture I have ever had the displeasure of reading. If you are going to pretend you are a critic of culture, get informed first. Just because you don’t understand the culture does not give you the right to use rhetoric that insinuates that you must not be in your “right” mind to understand the entertainment value and simply, the freedom of an individual to perform and to be whoever and whatever they want to be, even if just for one musical number. This article IS however a perfect representation on the extremely uptight (obviously, you who wrote this ‘article’) heterosexual culture that is shocked at anything different or anything they don’t immediately understand (or even try to, which it is so clearly obvious that you didn’t attempt to). I find it so overwhelmingly ironic that you “had a good time” although you only wrote before it about how you were baffled at “what our society has come to” and “almost left”. If you were so disgusted, then you should have left. It’s that simple. Do not judge others simply because of your ignorance. Additionally, how about you do your f**king research before drawing a conclusion. Maybe, just maybe, if you asked the performers about why they were up there, or perhaps an audience member that WAS enjoying it, you might have been graced with some clarity – the one thing I unfortunately was not graced with reading this ‘article’.

  3. The beauty of America is that everyone has their own opinion, but this critique left me more confused than I was before I read it. I think next time, it would be great if you did research and had someone proof read your writing for structure and flow and not just grammar.

    Your intro “This seems like a typical boring show, right? Think again” intrigued me and led me to believe the show to be entertaining and that your own opinion would change by the end. And yet throughout, all you did was emphasize flailing performers with no rhythm and costume malfunctions. There was a brief moment of excitement over splits and high kicks but it seemed to come and go as fast as a baby being distracted by something shiny, only to end in you saying you would not go again. Your points contradict your opening entirely.

    There was a single sentence about drag becoming popular within the past 10 years; which is only true in the context of mainstream America. By the way, didn’t McDaniel perform Snow White in 2009? A show modeled after British pantos which features a main character in drag? And again not long ago Rocky Horror Picture Show? It might seem fairly new in popular American culture, but maybe doing some research and adding more information on drag in other cultures, film, stage, nightly performances in clubs throughout America, or even past drag performances at your own campus could have fleshed it out more and given the reader an answer to the underlying question; what is drag? and why has it come to McDaniel? And why now? As an alumni who is homosexual and was in Snow White that was my initial question and purpose in reading. Having moved to Florida and worked as a performer for Disney, Nickelodeon, and Royal Caribbean I have been exposed to the world of drag in various forms and when I heard about this all I could think was why on earth this is going on at McDaniel. Of all places, “liberal” McDaniel College with all of 10 “out” homosexual students out of 1700 are performing a drag show in the middle of conservative Carroll County.

    I’m confused why the 9 year old was mentioned. You didn’t lean towards a child being exposed to tolerance and acceptance at a young age, and pointing out her being exposed to performers calling each other “bitches” is contradicted by the fact that far worse is shown daily on tv and the FCC no longer censors the word “bitch” on television regardless if it be premium, cable, or other.

    “Survivor” is by Destiny’s Child… not just Beyonce.

    Overall, opinions are great. Not everyone has to agree. If you’re writing an article, especially for campus, I understand expectations and the desire to avoid bias. I would almost urge you to just go for it. Don’t be boring, give an opinion. Write a critique that actually critiques. There is a way to do this without being overtly rude; but it starts with research and the structure of your writing.
    Good Luck.

    • When the author said that drag shows have grown across America over the past decade, I think she was referring to a comment made by performer Karmella that drag shows held on college campuses have grown within the past decade. Karmella herself made a claim that the first college drag show was held at Towson University when she was a student there.

  4. I’m honestly struggling to figure out what type of piece this is.

    If you intended to write an opinion piece, you failed at picking and sticking to an opinion.

    If you intended on reporting about the show, neglecting to interview anyone involved is sub amateur level writing.

    While I completely disagree with your “opinion”,I could have at least respected the writing had you done more than barely form coherent thoughts.

    Revise, revise, revise.

  5. Maybe this was the author’s first time at a drag show, so it was difficult for her to know what exactly to say about it. She obviously had mixed feelings. She specifically said she was uncomfortable at the show, so cut her some slack. Let’s see you go out of your comfort zone and attempt to write about it. Yes, some things could have been worded better, but she’s still learning about this. Maybe commentary isn’t her strongest/favorite type of writing.

    • another anonymous | April 15, 2013 at 8:33 pm |

      Kinda sounds suspiciously like something the writer of the article would say…

  6. While this may not have been the perfect commentary, I think these people are being extremely overcritical. I, for one, agree with the author. I think the concept of these drag shows are absurd. If a person truly wants to be a crossdresser, fine. But why show it off in front of everybody like you’re some kind of act? These drag show people don’t want to be treated like circus acts, yet they put on a “show” for people.
    I agree even more strongly with the idea of a nine-year-old being there. That’s just wrong. I’ve always been of the belief that it’s wrong for children to hear profanity and that it will have a big impact on the type of people they grow up to be. It also doesn’t make sense to me why any parent would want their kid to see men dressed like women…

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your opinion. Great lede, but keep in mind that you don’t have to go in order along with the show. Use the inverted pyramid structure to put the most important, or thing that stood out most, near the top of your article.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for your feedback, we respect all opinions on this controversial topic.

      I did want to point out one thing that I suspect may be a point of some confusion. You said: “If a person truly wants to be a crossdresser, fine. But why show it off in front of everybody like you’re some kind of act? These drag show people don’t want to be treated like circus acts, yet they put on a “show” for people.” I want to clarify that there are actually three different types of people mentioned in your statement.

      First, there are trans* people. (The reason for the asterisk is that some people identify as transgender and some people identity as transsexual, so many allies to the community simply use the nonspecific prefix.) I think people with this identity are who you were thinking of when you wrote your comment. These are people who feel that their body does not reflect their true gender. There are many, many identities that fall under the trans* umbrella, but the most well-known are FTM (female to male, someone who was assigned female at birth but identifies as a male) and MTF (male to female, someone who was assigned male at birth but identifies as a female). They may express that identity through their clothes, but it is important to remember that clothes are usually not the priority: being trans* is about self-definition, not clothing.

      Second, cross-dressers. Cross-dressers are people who are settled in their gender identity, but sometimes choose to wear clothes of the opposite gender. Usually, these are people who were born male and identify as male or were born female and identify as female – that is, they are NOT trans*. There is a lot of variety among cross-dressers in terms of why they desire to cross-dress and to what extent they do it, but generally it is a private affair. Many cross-dressers only do so in the privacy of their own home, and if they do choose to go out in public, they’re just trying to go about their normal lives, not put on a show like drag queens/kings.

      Finally, people who dress in drag. Drag queens are men who dress like women and drag kings are women who dress like men. Usually, but not always, these men and women are non-trans* (which is called cisgender, if you have a word of the day like I do). While there is huge diversity within the trans* community and I’m sure some trans* people enjoy doing drag, those two things are not the same. Trans* identity has to do with how a person feels internally with regard to their gender; drag has to do with a performance and entertainment. Drag is also not the same as cross-dressing. What differentiates cross-dressers from drag performers is the grandiosity of the affair. Cross-dressers dress for themselves in ways that make them feel more comfortable. Drag performers do it for the entertainment value. They over-exaggerate the traits of the opposite sex and put on a tongue-in-cheek performance that is supposed to be raunchy and fun. That’s why they “show it off” – because they ARE “some kind of act”! While no generalization can accurately reflect diverse populations like trans* people or cross-dressers, it is a good rule of thumb that people of the other two identities do tend to keep it as a more personal matter, because it is an issue of how they define and/or express themselves. For drag performers, it’s more of a job or a hobby; it’s not as personal because it’s not an identity.

      These are some really complicated and subtle distinctions, so I really appreciate you bringing it up! It’s always a good thing when there is an opportunity to have a dialogue. If you (or anyone else!) have any questions, I encourage you to continue the conversation.

      Best Wishes,
      Directorial Staff

  7. Overcritical? Isn’t that what you’re doing right now? Your commentary, along with the author’s simply reflect the bigoted, ignorance that still runs rampant throughout certain parts of our society. For one, they’re not cross-dressing, it’s part of entertainment, a form of creativity for these wonderfully talented people. Comparing them to circus acts is just hiding your ridiculously small-minded ideals about gender and how people express themselves. As far as the nine-year old is considered, she was a student of one of the performers and was well aware of what was going on. If you’re going to provide commentary that’s borderline hate speech, why don’t you do some research or why don’t you attend one of these shows. Better yet, why don’t you give some of your opinions to one of the performers and see what they have to say? If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were homophobic, so why don’t you take your opinions to someone who cares, like those wonderful people at Westboro.

  8. There seems to be a lot of misinformation about the drag show and drag culture in particular. What about seeing what Allies has to say, since they sponsored it? Did anybody even read the event program? There was an explanation of the event and its history, which provides some useful context that it seems a lot of you are missing. Maybe I have too much time on my hands, but I’ve typed it out for you here because I think it’s important to consider the event’s purpose:

    “McDaniel Allies is McDaniel College’s Gay Straight Alliance, but we are so much more than that. Our purpose is to serve as a bridge between the LGBTQ communities at McDaniel College, and as a constructive forum allowing us to work toward the greater goal of understanding and acceptance for LGBTQ individuals in society. LGBTQ Advocacy has a long history on this campus. In fact, while this drag show is the first in McDaniel’s history, it is by no mean the beginning of drag culture on the Hill. When we were still known as Western Maryland College, queens and kings graced the college under the leadership of student activist Wade Fannin.

    “Wade graduated from WMC in 1991, but in his time at the college he was an ardent advocate for LGBTQ issues and received the prestigious Griswold-Zepp Award for Volunteerism. Wade was crucial in founding the Lesbian and Gay Resource Center of Carroll County and in reestablishing an organized advocacy effort at WMC after previous groups disintegrated in the face of the AIDS crisis. Sadly, Wade passed away recently, but tonight’s show is our effort to honor the legacy of student activism Wade and other student leaders left on this campus. By donating a portion of all proceeds to the Trevor Project, we hope that McDaniel’s First Time will live up to the precedent set by those who came before us, and we thank you for your generosity tonight in helping make that possible.”

  9. I know you’ve gotten a lot of shit for this article but I think that your entittled to your opinion Kelsey! It is after all in this section of the mcdaniel free press. Although I may not agree with you, i think a lot of people probably felt the way you did. I think it would be tragic to only write and post what the majority of people would like to read. Thanks for your insight!

  10. As an alumni of McDaniel nearly ten years ago and a current graduate student at Tulane University in New Orleans, I am very disappointed that this ignorant opinion piece was published in The McDaniel Free Press.

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