Biannual PRISM Drag Show perform glam and glitz at Orpheum
By Shelby Landrock
Backstage at the Orpheum Theater, People Respecting Individuals and Sexual Minorities (PRISM), cast members are bustling to get ready for their production of the night: Til’ Drag Do Us Part. Glamorous wigs and dresses hang in the closets and drape over couches, while the desks are busy with makeup and nails.
One of the main headliners, Dejanaé Parker, also known as Caleb Renfro, sits on a sofa in a large fluffy jacket while her nails are applied. Peacefully waiting for the show to start, an aura of confidence encloses her in a safe bubble away from the surrounding chaos.
“I feel fantastic.” Parker says, “Honestly, this is the calmest I’ve been for a show ever.”
Candy Lipinski, also known as Christian Kolesar, is another main headliner in tonight’s show. Kolesar is a graduate student from NAU and has been doing drag for five years. After resisting for so long, Kolesar’s best friend Dejanaé Parker was able to convince him to come audition for the drag group, Pretty Pretty Princesses.
“They threw me in a dress and heels and I looked pretty enough to keep going,” Lipinski says as she applies her lipstick.
Til’ Drag Do Us Part revolves around the theme of being proud of who you are and not letting gender binaries control society. The performance features NAU’s Homecoming Royalty: Tony Peña (Mariposa Guadalupe Smith) and Kathleen Short (Jayden). In a speech made before intermission, Smith praises Flagstaff for setting the bar in challenging society’s views on gender.
“NAU, we are breaking binaries, we are breaking history!” Smith said. “Don’t be afraid to be queer, be weird, be yourself and get out there!”
The dedicated fans stood out in the cold — some waiting 20 to 30 minutes before the doors opened — eager to get inside and fill the auditorium. It was a packed night with not only flashy outfits on stage, but among many of the audience members. This is an act that is greatly encouraged to create solidarity throughout the performances.
Blasting Top 40 femmes such as Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera and Pink, the girls rocked the stage in 6-inch heels and sparkling outfits. When the host of the show, Calista Devine, asked the crowd who was straight, a majority of hands shot into the air. It shows that not only are the supporters made up of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender individuals — they also include the acceptance of straight people as well.
Til’ Drag Do Us Part left audience members feeling empowered and inspired by the messages behind the night’s show, the importance of being true to one’s self and not letting society control what the people should think or be.