Column: Spring break opens up with a drag show at the Varsity

March 24, 2023

With spring rolling in, the Varsity Center presented the first drag show of the season with many local drag performers ready to take the stage. Southern Illinois’ Godmother of drag Blanche DuBois opened up the night and was followed by five other drag queens and king.

Blanche DuBois has been running the game for years as the reigning queen of Southern Illinois and began the show with a performance in a dazzling blue dress fit for a queen. Afterward, she took a seat and presented the rest of the performers’ acts as well as fun games and trivia for the audience to take part in to bring everyone together for the event.

Each of the other queens and king had three different performances throughout the night with varying looks, each tailored to their preferences and personalities.


The second performance was presented by another drag queen from Carbondale, Holly Haliwell. This queen is known for her references to older pop culture during her shows nostalgic of the early to mid 1900’s. Bold lips and even bolder hair are some of her most common looks when she takes the stage. Her stage name is actually a reference to one of my favorite shows growing up, Charmed, which ran from 1998 to 2006 with the main characters with the last name of Halliwell.

The next up was another icon who’s been in the game for years, Jodie Santana. She is never seen without iconic blonde hair in every performance and has been the inspiration for newer generations of drag queens that were similarly featured in the show. This blonde bombshell is never seen without sparkles and glitter for each outfit to light up the stage with not only her colorful and fun outfits, but a dazzling smile to boot.

After that, Southern Illinois’ new reigning drag king took the stage, Faim Lee Jewls. Drag kings have finally begun to receive more recognition and popularity in recent years and Faim Lee Jewls is a perfect representation of what it means to be a drag king. Every time he takes the stage, he pumps the crowd up and, like a true gentleman, offers blue roses to the audience to further liven up his performances. I myself have two of his roses from shows in the past and present. His performance is never seen without an iconic shiny blazer and props to further add to his already impressive shows.

The next performer is one of two of Jodie Santana’s inspirations at the show, Leiyana Santana. Her outfits are always fit for the gods with quick but dazzling costume changes frequently seen on stage that never cease to amaze the crowd. Each performance of hers is unique, from pop to rock and roll to folklore. Her last performance left the entire audience in amazement, myself included, at the goddess-like performance she ended the night with. Pick those jaws up from the floor!

Last but not least was the other Jodie Santana inspiration, Kailey Santana. Like her other two family members on stage, she dressed to the nines and is always seen with brunette hair to coordinate with each look. Her performances are sure to wow the crowd with the dancing she incorporates into the act, with those high kicks reaching new heights.

In light of recent events happening within the United States with increased protests and drag show bans beginning to make their way through both society and politics, it is important for everyone to know just how amazing drag can be for everyone involved. Bills are in the act of being passed throughout the country from Arizona to Tennessee to Texas, says Time Magazine.

Each of these drag queens and king showed Southern Illinois that drag is an art form that inspires others and brings everyone together through entertainment and joy. No matter what this country holds in store for those who perform or simply enjoy drag, these queens and kings will continue to perform and live on in every single soul they touch. Drag is an art form, not a crime.


“Let’s all give ourselves a round of applause for keeping the art of drag going!” said Christina Garnette, evening hostess alongside Blanche DuBois.

Staff columnist and photographer Mo Collar can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at @m0.alexander. 


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