Madame Dukes and KY Yonngblom, ASL interpreter
All Photos by Kayless Chalmers
Hold onto your wigs, because the show blew them away.
The University of Wisconsin-Superior’s annual drag show was held Oct. 26, 2019. It began in recognition of the indigenous peoples’ land UWS resides on. T Leeper was the host of the night and they were as good, if not better than their hosting last spring.
“Cheer, clap, for your performers. Hopefully, you brought some ones, maybe some fives, maybe some tens. Tip your performers if you like their dancing, their songs, their outfits, anything like that. All the tips go to them,” said Leeper.
Before the show kicked off, Leeper introduced their new microphone. During last year’s drag show, Leeper was given a corded microphone that was cause of hilarity and technology mishaps, but it’s all in the past. “Last year, [the audience] felt really sorry for me, because I had to struggle so much with the microphone. I hear giggles from the people that know exactly what I’m talking about! Literally, I turned into a lion tamer… yelling ‘Hyah! Back!’ [But] it’s cordless this year y’all.”
Venus was the first queen on the stage. She got the crowd pumped up with a performance to “Lights, They Blind Me (Interlude) + Bubblegum B—-” by Marina and the Diamonds. Her performance was flawless, as expected from a returning queen, and included a lap off the stage and around the audience.
After Venus’s performance, Leeper surprised the audience by entering from the crowd, instead of beside the stage. “Hoo, didn’t expect that did ‘ya? There’re so many things I can do. I’m cordless now.”
Leeper then introduced the next performer, Mama Dukes. Mama Dukes’s family was sitting front row to support her, including the main mama herself. “Not the drag mama, the birth mama,” as Mama Dukes’s mother proclaimed.
Mama Dukes performed to “Purge Mix” by Rihanna. Unfortunately, the music had an unplanned break, but Mama Dukes took it in stride. “You cut off my groove honey,” she said. But, like a true professional, she kept going to give a great performance.
Following Mama Dukes was Zephyrs. They performed to “For Your Entertainment” by Adam Lambert. Saturday night was their “very first” time performing in drag. Zephyrs shared in a pre-show interview, “I’m excited to be who I really want, who I am inside. Just confident and sexy.”
Adding to the excitement of the crowd, Leeper took everyone by surprise again, speaking in a new location. “You’re looking for me! Where am I?” Leeper said, as they walked down the grand staircase, just above the stage. Once Leeper made it to the stage, they got more laughs from the crowd. Comparing the show to “Whose Line is it Anyway,” Leeper said, “This is a drag show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.”
Madame was next, performing to “Everybody’s Girl” by Debra Monk. Her performance was hilarious and extraordinary. Madame truly knew her song by heart, because the lip syncing was ‘on point’ and the dancing was perfectly satirical.
Madame said, “This is my first time performing with UWS, [but] I’ve been performing drag for about two or three years. I like performing for college students, because I think it’s super exciting to see somebody’s drag cherry be popped. You know, it’s the first time someone has seen a drag queen and they have that shocked look on their face. It’s fun to be like, ‘Yup, that’s me you’re looking at.’”
Following Madame, another first-time performer came on stage. Tik Tok is a self-proclaimed e-boy. “My home is the Tik Tok app. I’m gonna be performing “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance. I’m excited, a little nervous, but excited. [I can] finally live my emo phase, because I could never afford it when I was a pre-teen, so I thought I’ll just try it now and see how it goes. Might as well have fun with it.” And Tik Tok’s performance was truly fun. Watching them perform, you could truly tell they were having fun.
Venus made another appearance after Tik Tok. She performed to “Spellbound” by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Then, Leeper became part of the performances.
Leeper began by filling time between performances by talking about their cat, Anya. “My cat and I have the same name: Anya. My drag name is Anya D.” To that, a mini audience member, a little girl probably no older than six, came up to the stage and gave Leeper a dollar tip. “I love your outfit,” the little girl said. “Thank you,” was Leeper’s response and an audible “Aww” could be heard from the audience. Leeper crouched down on the stage and said, “This is the first show I could ever cry on.” But Leeper regained their composure and promoted events coming up on campus.
A Trans+ potluck was held Oct. 28, and a film screening of “Kiki” will be Nov. 5, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The film screening will be in Swenson Hall 1004, the Erlenbach Lecture Hall.
However, the audience didn’t have enough. Someone in the crowd urged Leeper to perform due to the revelation they were Anya D. “Do it, do it, do it,” was chanted throughout the atrium. Leeper tried to redirect the audience to other performers, but eventually gave in. In a special performance, Leeper danced to “Heart Breaker” by Marina and the Diamonds. It was an amazing impromptu performance, made special due to the host being the performer and many audience members knowing Leeper through their involvement with the Gender Equity and Resource Center.
This was only the intermission, however, because more performers were on the docket to amaze the crowd.
Next was Dio, performing to “How to Be a Heartbreaker” by Marina and the Diamonds. Following Dio came Madame with another comical performance, this time to “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” by Celine Dion. Zephyrs reappeared as well to perform to “Beast” by Mia Martina ft. Wacka Flocka. Mama Dukes spiced things up with her performance to “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo. Her hair was amazing and her performance even better. Closing the show was Dio, performing to a popular song and crowd favorite, “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” by Panic! At the Disco.
The show was ending, but the audience tried for more by begging Leeper for another performance. Unfortunately, it was time to bow out, so Leeper closed with appreciation to attendees. “Things wouldn’t be nearly as great or the same without y’all.”
Additional thanks to American Sign Language interpreters, KY Yonngblom and Dawn Stevenson, who were present to help with accommodation, along with student employees who helped to manage the show.