Queens rise for a night of beauty and horror

By Mateusz Janik, Staff Reporter

Gianella Goan

On any given week night, Irregular Girl would normally be performing for drag shows at the Scarlet Bar, Charlie’s or the Berlin Nightclub, where she hosts the comedy show “Mom Jeans” with two of her friends.

Because of the pandemic, Irregular Girl, whose given name is Regina Rodriguez, said she and other performers had to shift gears and host their shows online from livestreaming services like Twitch.

“There’s nothing that’s going to come between a girl and her coin, and I feel like we all took on that mentality as soon as [the] coronavirus hit,” Irregular Girl said.

With safety precautions now in place, the college is also making changes, with the Student Programming Board partnering with The Event Lab to host its fourth annual drag show “Night of the Living Queens” virtually Friday, Oct. 30, with Chicago-based and student drag performers.

The spooky show will be hosted by Chicago drag artist Ari Gato, with performances by Irregular Girl and other well-known drag queens like Lucy Stoole, Nico, Luc Ami and Valentine Addams.

“It’s been a tricky thing trying to navigate the ways in which drag can exist in a pandemic and finding new avenues to express our art and showcase what we do,” said Gato, a 2017 musical theatre alum.

Gato, who usually performs at the BirdCage in Andersonville and Lips in the South Loop, said the transition to online shows has been difficult but also rewarding since her social media following has grown in the last eight months.

Gato said drag artists like herself have become their own producers by learning to shoot videos, edit clips and install lighting and set designs to recreate the same stage presence they have at venues.

“Drag entertainers are like cockroaches; you definitely can’t get rid of us,” said Nico, a host of “Queen!” at the Metro and “Crash Landing” at the Berlin Nightclub. “We definitely are strongly willed to adapt to the situation because drag entertainers are already the underdogs … we have already had to struggle to get the same sort of recognition as cis-performers.”

Nico, who is originally from Florida, said they were not the best performer starting out, but as time went on they built a name for themself based on weird and obscure shows which include sounds of grinding metal and blacklight performances.

Luc Ami, whose given name is Cassandra Kendall, said prior to the pandemic there was a stigma surrounding people who dressed in drag at home instead of during a live performance, referring to it as “bedroom drag.” But now this practice is being celebrated and elevated in production.

“Now people essentially create music videos for their drag performances and think about so many other technical elements,” Ami said “It’s been really interesting to see what people have created now that they’re not confined to having to perform it in a bar.”

The drag show will be streamed from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on The Event Lab website and will include behind-the-scenes footage of the performers.