By Tristan E. M. Leach
THE infectious excitement was felt the minute the doors to the Yvonne Theater opened. Dressed in their best and adorned with feather boas, students took their seats in the quickly packed theater. The lights went down and the cheering began. It was time for the annual Rider drag show.
On Sept. 9, the Student Entertainment Council welcomed back the beloved Rider tradition. All 400 seats in the Yvonne Theater were filled with excited students, many of whom had never been to a drag show before. The theme for the night was the 80s and the queens certainly delivered with their stunning performances.
The show featured a total of eight queens, five being professionals: Jolina Jasmine, Vanity Ray, Octavia Anyae, Kimmy Summony and Tastie. Three student drag queens Miracle Monroe (Cole Capriotti, a freshman film and television major), Naughty Nurse Barbie (Joe Giambelluca, a senior Spanish major) and Lexie Legato (Lincoln Funderburk, a senior musical theater major).
Throughout the night, the queens dazzled with stunning outfits and performances that had the audience screaming and on their feet. As in the years before, each professional drag queen performed two stunning numbers.
Jolina Jasmine, a returner to the Yvonne Theater stage and introduced as the “Honorary Miss Rider” by Nick Barbati, MCed the show after a ravishing performance full of acrobatic tricks and audience interaction.
“I was heavily inspired by Beyonce’s Renaissance tour. I’ve been watching all the videos on TikTok and Twitter. [SEC] said they wanted something disco-esque theme tonight. So I figured why not do Beyonce,” said Jasmine.
She introduced the next queen, Vanity Ray, who wore a Dolly Parton-style wig and a shimmery, purple bell bottom jumpsuit. With a medley of ABBA songs, the queen had the audience singing along. In her passion for the performance Ray’s earrings flew off and onto the stage.
Octavia Anyae followed in a gorgeous look reminiscent of music icon Tina Turner. Her beaded dress caught the stage lights and cast rainbows onto the audience in what was a pride-filled moment. Kimmy Summony gave a diva inspired performance, draped dramatically in cheetah print and fur hangings.
Tastie was the last queen to perform before the student drag queens got their chance on the stage. In a red jumpsuit adorned with a cape and feather lapels, Tastie put on one of the most dramatic and attention grabbing performances of the night. In makeup and hair reminiscent of David Bowie, Elton John and Freddie Mercury, Tastie wowed the audience.
After five stunning performances from the professionals, it was time for the student drag queens to showcase their talents. To kick off the portion of the show, Miracle Monroe took to the stage. In a neon ensemble, the queen performed to Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” and transitioned into ABBA’s “Money Money Money.” Monroe’s performance was extremely ambitious and featured many breathtaking tricks such as flips and jumping over a chair.
“What got me into drag was definitely the culture and definitely the atmosphere. I love being a performer and I thought might as well push myself out of my comfort zone,” said Capriotti.
Next up was Naughty Nurse Barbie. In a nurse outfit and sporting a pink wig, the queen made the audience cheer with her fun and funky dance moves. After her performance, the queen stole one or two extra bows.
To close out the student section of the performance, Lexie Legato made her drag debut. In a sheer, frilly black robe (known as a murder robe in popular culture), a sparkly black top and a red mini skirt, Legato performed to the iconic song, “It’s Raining Men,” which was made famous by The Weather Girls. Legato’s performance included a glitter filled umbrella that sprinkled the front row with drag magic.
Back to the professional drag queens, Vanity Ray reappeared on stage in a purple and black cigar girl outfit. For her second performance, Ray spiced it up by laying on laps and dancing her heart out in the audience.
Octavia Anyae made her way back to the stage and changed her outfit twice while passionately lip syncing to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” During her performance, Anyae pulled Isabella Pero, a freshman elementary education major onto the stage to dance with her. The two tangoed across the stage together and spun each other around. Pero laughed with joy and excitement as she danced.
“This was my first official drag show, so I’ve never been in this environment before. I felt so cool and like a celebrity. It was so cool,” Pero said with joyful laughter.
Kimmy Summony took the stage in a dramatic red outfit as she performed “I’m Every Woman.” Summony’s performance had attendees whopping as she strutted around the stage in thigh-high boots.
Before Jolina Jasmine made her way back on stage, Tastie came back to perform “Dance the Night,” by Dua Lipa, a song made popular by the recent Barbie movie. Students sang along and jumped out of their seats to dance to one of their favorite songs.
Jolina Jasmine was the last of the night in a cheetah print jumpsuit. Once she finished her performance, each queen got to come on stage to bow.
To thank everyone for attending, the eight queens put together an impromptu performance of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” The queens made their way into the audience, singing and dancing with each other and the overjoyed students. The song ended with the queens throwing white streamers into the audience. The performance was met with a standing ovation and the queens all took one final bow together.
As the theater cleared, students took pictures with the queens and excitedly chatted with their friends. Rider Drag had successfully done what it has always set out to do: bring Rider together in pride.