Nestled inside the heart of the USM community are the drag shows that have been put on here since October, 2021. Ever since the residential drag queen, Letta Dicken, started the shows, more and more performers have expressed themselves through the art of drag during these shows. It allows everyday students to explore their identities, and to feel more confident in their bodies.
A “Spooktacular Extravaganza” was held Thursday, October 27th in Lower Brooks. It was the one-year anniversary of the school’s first-ever drag show, held outside on Hodgdon Field under a white tent. Before the show began, there was already a spooky ambiance with dark lighting and Halloween music playing in the background. Light refreshments were provided for the audience during the entire show. Along with the drag show, a trivia game, and a costume contest were held in between performances. The winners each got a prize. The trivia game had about five questions, all about the LGBTQ+ community, and the costume contest consisted of the contestants walking down the runway for three judges, who then deliberated on a winner.
The drag show had a plethora of performers eager to showcase their talent. The performers were Letta Dicken, Ooofta, Pilan B, MX. Gendered, Raye Nessance, Orni Crow, Carmelita, Cherry Whine, Saphira, Belladonna’s Kiss, and Shlomo. Each drag artist had their own unique performance.
Each performer had their own special outfits, and some even came with costume changes in between their performances. The songs ranged from “Poor Unfortunate Soul” to Tick Tick Boom’s “30/90.” Each performer brought high energy in their own way. Orni Crow lit up the stage during “30/90” with exciting dance moves and interacting with the audience, while Carmelita provided a more slow and seductive performance that still captivated the crowd’s attention. Belladonna’s Kiss even sang their performance of “Mama” by My Chemical Romance instead of lip syncing during one of their performances, which was impressive and brave. Oofta offered a unique performance, the songs being more “punkish” feeling, along with the long arm of the shirt Oofta was wearing, that flew around and acted as a good prop. Every performer did well and showcased their unique talents to the audience at the drag show.
Since last October, the drag shows have come very far. The shows and community that Letta Dicken has built since then have only grown. Letta Dicken stated: “As a queer, gay man, who is a theater performance major at USM, and who wants to be a paid professional drag queen, I wanted to perform and start building my repertoire as a drag queen. Unfortunately, drag performers who are under 21 can’t perform in the bars, and because there isn’t a place for underaged drag performers, a year ago I stepped up to the plate as a residential assistant and student leader at USM, and in the community. I created a place for underaged drag performers such as myself to perform, express, feel safe, and ultimately have fun and work on our craft as drag performers. It truly is an overwhelming experience of love, encouragement, and excitement that these drag extravaganzas are still happening, growing each show, and is supported not only by many departments here at USM, but by USM as a whole institution.”
The school has embraced the drag shows, and has supported the students expressing themselves through the art of drag. The shows that Letta Dicken has started in the past year have allowed many other students to experience the world of drag, which they may have never done if it were not for the performances held at USM. One of the evenings’ performers, Orni Crow stated: “As a gender-fluid person, drag is a way for me to tap into the parts of me that are hyperfeminine in a sense that I can express those parts of me without necessarily having to do it 24/7. As a theater major, it also adds to the list of things that I’ve done.”
The drag shows hosted by Letta Dicken have opened up a world at this school that many may have thought was not possible before. Allowing students to be comfortable in expressing themselves is important, and that is exactly what USM and Letta Dicken have allowed them to do. Keep an eye out for the next drag show, which will be announced in emails and posters around both campuses. If you are looking for something to do, it will definitely be a good time.