Student blurs gender norms with new drag show

By Olivia Deloian, Campus Reporter

Noah Spiegel-Blum, a junior theatre major, has been a performer for about 13 years. After getting into drag in 2015, Spiegel-Blum delivers performances that combine a musical theatre background and drag.

Spiegel-Blum, whose drag name is Novaczar, now has a new show titled Supernova, an homage to Sasha Velour’s “Nightgowns,” which started Jan. 9 and will continue every second Tuesday of the month. With various themes for each event at North Bar, 1637 W. North Ave., the overall goal is to bring the colorful Chicago drag scene to neighborhoods beyond Boystown.

The Chronicle spoke with Spiegel-Blum about their drag personality, the excitement of having a new show as well as the potential of being on the TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

THE CHRONICLE: How did you get involved with drag? 

NOAH SPIEGEL-BLUM: When I was a junior in high school, I was really into this person who identified as gender non-conforming, and they did drag and sometimes female impersonations. But there were other times where it was strictly androgynous, and I was so drawn to it. It stemmed from my musical theater background, and I’ve always been drawn to the powerful, passionate female characters in musical theater anyway, until it kind of made sense for me to start getting into drag, impersonating a female and blurring the gender line. I started asking if I could watch this person do their makeup and get ready, and then I started to assist and go to their drag shows. And then I was like, “Let me just try this out myself.” And it blossomed from there.

How did you come up with your drag name? 

When I was in elementary school, I was obsessed with this girl named Nova because it sounded a lot like Noah. When I realized I wanted to be in drag, I was like, “Nova has to be in my drag name because it’s such a dimension.” It’s been something I was looking for so long for some reason, and then one day I was walking by Zara and I was like NovaZara. People are gonna think I’m copying Zara, [so] I took off an A and [it became] Novaczar. If you type in “czar” on Google, it means king. With Nova in front of it, it means  empress of the galaxy.

What inspired SuperNova? 

Sasha Velour is the current reigning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 9 drag superstar. She is my favorite drag queen of all time. She’s from Brooklyn and started a show there called “Nightgowns” that stems from people coming to a space where they can feel their gender is non-existent, and race isn’t an issue. They’re each viewed individually and you only can enter that world in your dreams because that’s obviously not reality. So that’s why it’s called “Nightgowns.” It’s where people can sit down and enjoy drag for what it is and take it in.

It was always my dream to create something exactly like that and follow in Sasha’s footsteps.  I reached out to a bar I performed at before in Wicker Park, and I booked queens from all over Chicago and paid them with my own money, and then I get a profit for what comes through the door. I’m not in it for the profit; I’m just in it to give drag another demographic than Boystown, but I’m also toying with bringing it to Boystown for a larger audience.

What is the theme for March? 

It’s going to be Oz, for the whole St. Patrick’s Day theme with a little gay twist. For February it was Lost Love, and then for [January] it was Premier Moment.

Do you hope to get involved in “RuPaul’s Drag Race”?

Maybe one day. It’s not as easy as people think it is, but you know I don’t have a group following, I don’t have the wardrobe or the connections to drop everything and in two weeks you’re filming and you’re gone for two months and there’s so much that goes into it that people don’t understand. So until I’m ready for that kind of commitment, I won’t be auditioning. But maybe in the next 5 years if “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is still running and I feel that Novaczar as a persona is ready for that, then absolutely.

What would you like people to understand about the drag world? 

What people should understand about the drag world is that it is an art form.  One of the most [common] misconceptions about it is that it’s only female impersonations. Drag is anything you want it to be. There’s no set rules about drag, and that’s what’s so beautiful about it is that it can be as creative and vulnerable as you possibly want it to. And it’s a form of your own self. When I’m as Novazcar, I feel 110 percent authentically me. I go on the train in drag all the time. Is it safe? I don’t know. But if I god forbid ever get attacked in drag, as long as I am in [it] being authentically me then there is some truth and wholesomeness in that because I’m standing up for my community, and drag queens are the forefront leaders of the queer scene.

What is your biggest goal in the drag world? 

Definitely to feel like a queer figure, that’s the ultimate goal whether it be with the help of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” or word of mouth and creating my own work. I love the idea of integrating musical theater and drag into one art form. I do a lot of musical theatre in my drag. Because it’s so close to my heart, and any form of blurring the gender that people in the spectrum of a normal binary understand is what I’m passionate about.