Chico State’s drag show rocks the Bell Memorial Union


Susie Quite and Psycho Chix performed a unique burlesque. Photo credit: Dominique Wood

Shiny wigs, high heels, capes and colorful lights awaited the line of students stretching out the door and down the street.

Over 1,000 students and community members filled the Bell Memorial Union auditorium Thursday for Chico State’s fourth annual Drag Show.

The show featured a supportive crowd with enough energy to give everyone in the room goosebumps. The acts—unconventional and upbeat—focused on an unhindered expression of pride and social acceptance.

Pop music sounded throughout the auditorium as guests trickled in from the main entrances. Performers dressed in elaborate costumes moved in and out of a curtained doorway that lead into their backstage dressing room.

Event organizers paced around the edges of the room, working hard to maintain a smooth, organized performance. Safely gathering all of this robust expression in one place took about three or four months of preparation, according to an organizer and co-host who went by the stage name “Mother Moses.”

Candy performed a lively lip-sync of Bohemian Rhapsody. Photo credit: Dominique Wood

Chico State’s Gender and Sexuality Equity Coalition, GSEC, hosted the event with the help of many sponsors, based both on and off campus. Ticket prices were set at $5 for students and $10 for general admission.

Once inside, attendants danced, sang, mingled and took pictures with props in a designated photo area.

In addition to loud music, cheering and camera flashes—beams of red, green, blue and yellow light filled the venue. A large disco ball hung from the roof—spinning blotches of light around every wall.

Coco did a rendition of Rhianna that made the crowd go wild. Photo credit: Dominique Wood

A T-shaped runway jetted out from the auditorium’s main stage, coming face-to-face with rows of chairs that stretched all the way to the room’s entrance. Costumed entertainers danced enthusiastically—to their chosen music—across the platform all night.

The show featured 14 different acts. Entertainers were gathered from nearby areas by GSEC organizers during a three-week application period. During the event, performers remained known by only their stage names. The show featured Coco, Will Ryder, Lulu, Candy, Priscilla Devil and many more.

Almost none of the entertainers remained on stage for the duration of their sets. Most of them continually built up energy in the room by dancing up and down the aisles and engaging with members of the crowd.

Dollar bills flew through the air as participants tossed out cash tips.

Mother Moses and Comadre co-hosted the event. Photo credit: Dominique Wood

One of the night’s performers, known on-stage as Mother Moses, said that shows like this are something special, and many people who attend really want to make a difference and build a community.

Sustaining so much energy in one place also takes a lot of personality and intensity.

“It takes a lot of mental energy,” the performer and co-host “Mother Moses” said.

Even though the show featured plenty of humor and racy comments, it also spread inspiring messages about support and social acceptance. Almost everyone in attendance seemed glad to be a part of such an exhilarating expression of pride.

The night’s main host, known on-stage as Millian, assured everyone that supportive and caring people are always out there, and it’s important to be strong and proud.

“You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself,” Millian said.

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @G_Schmieding on Twitter.