Zach Donnenfield | Mustang News

The costumes are on, the music is queued and the Queens are ready for their spotlight. Halloween in Chumash Auditorium was full of glitz and a whole lot of glam.

Ysa gets down on the ground during her performance. Zach Donnenfield | Mustang News
Ysa gets down on the ground during her performance. Zach Donnenfield | Mustang News

Cal Poly’s Drag Club held its first Halloween show Oct. 31.

The doors opened to the public at 7:30 p.m. as groups of

friends and peers rushed in to show their support. The night consisted of comedic interactions, fabulous costumes and fierce performances.

Members of the club hoped to host an event that would allow their friends and other Cal Poly students to get excited about drag.

The club was officially founded spring 2017 by a group of friends who felt that Cal Poly’s drag community lacked an outlet. Founders Rotem Drori, Jordan Collins and Richie Kelly created Cal Poly Drag Club as a platform open to anyone who wants to perform while also educating the general public on what drag is really about.

“My hope is that people will finally realize that anybody can be a drag queen,” theatre arts senior and Cal Poly Drag Club President Drori said. “The definition varies from culture to culture.”

YouTube video
Video by Tabata Gordillo

Before college, drag was more of an intriguing mystery for some of the members of the Cal Poly Drag Club.

Victoria stops at the staircase to strike a pose. Zach Donnenfield | Mustang News

According to biological sciences senior and co-founder Collins, their interest in drag goes back to playing dress-up as a child.

“When I got to college, I started doing it in my dorm room, practicing makeup and secretly buying clothes,” Collins said. “Eventually we found a platform to perform and I got out there and did it.”

Shortly after, Collins became Regina Flores — Latin for “Queen of the Flowers” — to freely express themself regardless of gender.

“It’s kind of like a comedic thing where you have that platform to poke fun at things that you normally couldn’t,” Collins said.

For business administration senior Kelly, drag was introduced to him during his freshman year. Kelly describes his character, Hazel Macchiato, as a celebration of every basic girl out there.

“I hate pumpkin spice lattes but Hazel loves them,” Kelly said.

In terms of stereotypes, Kelly said Hazel likes to make fun of gender.

“She realizes that expectations of women are a certain way and expectations of men are a certain way. Why not mix them together and say, ‘F that’?” Kelly said.

Drori described a similar experience.

“When I came to college, I used to be like apprehensive but intrigued by drag queens,” Drori said.

After more exposure through the media and other platforms, Drori gained a better understanding of and appreciation for drag.

“I started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and all of these different things and I was kind of like, ‘Why not’?” Drori said.

Atropa Belladonna applies her eyelashes for the night. Zach Donnenfield | Mustang News
Atropa Belladonna applies her eyelashes for the night. Zach Donnenfield | Mustang News

Drori sees drag as more than just being a woman; it is about being whatever you want.

With drag comes many preconceived notions and prejudices throughout society. People in drag are often expected to be a certain way, whether they are on or off
the stage.

“Being downtown in drag one time, I remember being cat-called and had some very transphobic things said to me too,” Collins said. “That’s obviously a very extreme view of what drag is.”

Members of the drag club emphasized that people in drag should not be confined to fit a specific portrayal, particularly in terms of gender identification. No matter where a person falls along the gender spectrum, drag serves as a platform for people to express themselves freely.

For Kelly, gender is merely a construct imposed by society.

“Gender is a lie,” Kelly said. “The fact that a group of cisgender or gender non-conforming people can all come together and say, ‘We’re going to make fun of the way you expect us to look and act and were going to say ‘fuck that,’ is fun and empowering.”

Aside from the fun and entertainment that the Cal Poly Drag Club provides, its mission is to change people’s perceptions of drag and of the people wearing
the costumes.

“If somebody has a problem with us, we urge them to come talk to us,” Drori said. “There’s definitely a better way to exist that isn’t all about right and wrong. We want to move forward and have fun.”

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