When life is a drag, wear a dress

By Gus Bode

Joel Nadler shimmied across the stage wearing a big, red wig, black socks and a pink halter-top dress as his dance partner Ryo Patrascu strutted down the runway in her backwards hat, sunglasses and instant, make-up beard.

Nadler, a doctoral candidate in psychology, and Patrascu, a senior from Chicago studying animal science, were chosen to take part in suicide drag during Friday night’s show co-sponsored by the Saluki Rainbow Network.

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About halfway through the show, their names were pulled out of a bowl, and they were quickly whisked backstage to be transformed into drag queens.

“Let’s go make you beautiful,” Michael Graham, coordinator of the show and codirector of SRN, said as he led the winners into the dressing room. Graham is a senior from Springfield studying sociology.

Once backstage, drag queens searched for wigs and outfits for Nadler and Patrascu to wear while testing out shades of foundation and eyeliner.

Patrascu said she felt lucky to be the only drag king at this year’s show.

“I came last year, and it was fun. They had a lot of drag kings last year,” Patrascu said.

Nadler, who also teaches statistics in the psychology department, said he didn’t sign up for the suicide drag but had a pretty good idea who did.

“Most of my table left at one point, and I’m pretty sure I know where they went,” Nadler said.

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One of Nadler’s students, Lindsey Hartman, a sophomore from Sidney near Champaign, attended Friday night’s show.

“It was kind of shocking that, out of everyone, he got picked, but the fact that he was willing to go and do it was really cool,” Hartman said. “It was funny. He got really into it, especially for being in a pink dress.”

But the laughter changed into cheers and shouts as the real drag queens once again took the stage.

The drag show is SRN’s way of sharing the entertainment aspect of the gay community’s culture, Graham said.

“We do it to get people who are closed-minded to see that gay people are ok,” Graham said.

Red lights and loud music transformed the ballrooms into a stage for the performance. The crowd erupted into screams as Alexchandra, the first to perform, strutted her way on stage in a long tiger-striped dress to Beyonc� Knowles’ “Fever.”

Alexchandra’s performance was just the beginning of nearly two hours of drag queens shimmying in short, glittery dresses, big hair and stiletto heels to loud music.

Donned in a black- and red-striped outfit with black, knee-high boots and long red hair, Blanche DuBois exchanged cowboy hats for dollar bills while lip syncing to a medley of Wynonna Judd songs. Jasmine Kavalli, dressed as a lion, performed to “The Circle of Life,” with backup dancers dressed as a leopard and a lemur.

Jaeda Kiss’ high kicks to Jennifer Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” inspired people to stand on chairs and clap along. The reigning Miss Carbondale, Kara Belle, got the crowd to sing along as she danced to Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best.”

“It was the best $3 I’ve spent in a long time. I was impressed with the variety of abilities and personalities. It’s good, clean fun for the whole family,” Carbondale resident Kelly Stubbart said.

Sarah Lohman can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263 or [email protected]

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