Rider loves drag: A valentine special

By Tristan Leach

Music blared from inside The Yvonne Theater. Excited students and staff collected fans and disco ball necklaces as they took their seats. It was time for the second drag show of the school year, “Love Is a Drag.”

Friday night, Feb. 4, saw the return of a beloved Rider tradition. Drag shows have been happening at Rider since 2004 when Associate Dean of Campus Life Nick Barbati started the tradition as a student.

The Student Entertainment Council (SEC) brought the show back due to its popularity and the community that the show brings. Lauren Farley, senior psychology major and president of the SEC said, “We decided to bring drag back because it was a hit in the fall semester and we love the energy that this event brings. We wanted to spread the joy for this semester.”

Courtney Lynn Povero, a senior musical theater major and vice president of the SEC agreed, saying, “We love this event; it really brings the Rider community together. The students really love this event.”

This semester’s show was hosted by Rider students, drag queens Vicky Vibrato (Jack Wood, a senior musical theater major) and Christine Dior (Drew Shaffer, a senior musical theater major). Vibrato performed in last semesters’ show and was happy to be back. According to Dior, Vibrato had inspired her to do drag. Dior told the audience, “I wouldn’t be here without her.”

Along with Vibrato and Dior, four more queens were asked to perform at Rider. Cyannie Lopez, Sapphira Cristal and Stefani Steel were professionals that all performed at Rider before and came back for this show. Morgan Ashe, another professional drag queen, was also asked to perform at Rider for the first time.

“[Rider] is a different type of audience, a different type of stage and a different type of atmosphere. I was excited to be in a theater setting, I hadn’t been in a theater setting before,” said Ashe. “It’s something new and something I love, I would absolutely do it again.”

Before the other queens performed, Vibrato and Dior left for another gig. The role of the host was handed off to Omar Ortiz, a senior music studies major and the live music chair for the SEC.

While the theme was “Love Is a Drag,” the performances and the heart in them certainly weren’t. Cristal performed a melody of Lizzo songs including, “Truth Hurts” and “Juice.” Cristal had the audience singing and dancing in their seats as “Truth Hurts” rang out through the theater speakers. At the end of her performance, Cristal asked the audience to hug themselves, encouraging self-love in every person. The performer said, “Thank you for the love, you deserve the same love you gave me.”

Lopez also showed the audience that love was not so much of a drag after all.

Professional drag queen Cyannie Lopez performs in all white attire with her family in the crowd. Amethyst Martinez/ The Rider News

Lopez asked her mother to stand for a round of applause, revealing that her mother had attended every single show she had done. The drag queen also thanked her fiancé for his love and support. Her daughter proudly yelled out, “That’s my mom!” and ran up on stage to give Lopez a big hug. After her heartfelt speech, Lopez thanked the audience for their love. Lopez said, “None of them [other schools] as lit as Rider University.”

After a night of fun and heartfelt performances, it was time for Lopez, Steel, Ashe and Cristal to take their bows.

The audience was welcomed into the lobby for pictures with the queens. Students talked excitedly with their friends about the show, some had never seen a drag show before.

Kayla McIntyre, a sophomore global studies major said, “Oh my God, this was so much fun. The energy, the glitter and me getting twerked on was all amazing. I need to do this again.”

The night was a huge success, friends talked with the drag queens and expressed their excitement for the next Rider drag show.

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