By Alyssa Weston
The Chestnut Room in Kilcawley Center was full of charm and sass as local drag professionals took the stage of YSUnity’s annual drag show on April 26. This year, Youngstown State University students had the opportunity to join in the fun and try the art of drag.
For the first time since the start of the YSUnity drag show in the ’90s, inexperienced YSU students had the ability to try drag during a special student show.
The idea was spearheaded by Joe Lemasters, whose drag name is Mya Garrison, host of the drag show the past three years. Lemasters also finds all the talent for the drag show.
Carissa Brennan, a senior middle childhood education major and president of YSUnity, said the student drag show was started when many students asked how they could get involved in the show.
Together Brennan and Lemasters offered Drag 101 and Drag 102 — two workshop-style classes for YSU students to learn drag makeup, costuming and performing in drag. The class was aimed to prepare students to perform in the drag show.
After the classes, the rehearsal for the student performers was up to their own discretion.
Brennan said she loves the excitement the drag show brings to the campus each year.
“This year stood out compared to other years because of the queens we had. We had two queens who have been doing drag for 10-plus and 20-plus years. The level of experience really brings a unique twist to their performances,” she said.
According to Brennan, it is important to bring drag to YSU because it opens up people’s minds about the LGBTQ community.
“Drag is an art, and I’m so happy I get to show that art to the YSU campus and the Youngstown community,” she said.
Lemasters said his favorite part of performing at the drag show is the interaction with students.
“If the [students] are having a good time, I’m having a good time. And if they’re not, then I feel like I have to change what I’m doing, and make sure they are having a good time,” he said.
According to Lemasters, after the Drag 101 and 102 classes, there was no preparation for the student show on his end.
“I was just kind of there to encourage [student performers] and help them out with whatever questions that they had,” he said.
Lemasters said the excitement backstage with the student performers was contagious, and he is hopeful there will be more student-based drag performances at the YSUnity drag show in the future.
Devon Biggs, a freshman human resources management major, was a performer in the inaugural student drag show. He took the stage and amped up the crowd to the tunes of Beyonce and Cardi B.
Biggs, who is in the process of learning drag, said he contacted Lemasters about performing in the show to get some name recognition in the drag community.
According to Biggs, he pulls inspiration from both hip hop and R&B performers, as well as country musicians.
“It’s always nerve-racking when you first go out there because you never know how the crowd is going to react,” he said. “I just love making people laugh and smile and have fun.”