Breaking the Binary: Andover Hosts First Annual Drag Show

Donning a long orange wig with a golden jacket and matching gold boots, Bennett Sherr ’17 squatted right up close to the front row audience members as he lip-synced to Britney Spears’s “Circus.” As the song escalated, Sherr peeled off his jacket and whipped it around his head, earning cheers from the crowd, before tossing the jacket away. Marching across the room, Sherr grabbed Alex Kruizenga ’18 by the arm before reaching behind the curtains and revealing a poster asking her to prom. The high-energy dance ended with Sherr putting one leg up on his chair and framing his face with his arms.

“What I love about drag performance is that it plays with gender in such an interesting and unique way… the crowd was absolutely amazing and really helped us all along… My performance was more-or-less improvised; I kinda just went with the song…[I] hope that this becomes a legacy on campus and will continue every year,” said Sherr in an email to The Phillipian.

The drag show, held last Friday night in the BlackBox Theatre, was part of an Independent Project (IP) inspired by RuPaul’s Drag Race and conducted by Sherr, Andi Cheng ’17, and Alma Sterling ’17 along with their advisor Adrian Khactu, Instructor in English. The IP, titled “Drag Theory,” studied the gender theory that goes into drag and culminated in the drag show at the end of the term. To prepare for the show, the performers were allowed to choose their outfits and create a character that served as an extension of their own personalities.

“We wanted to end with a practical application of the theories they learned and actually showcase what they learned about how gender can be something expressed in many different ways… I was really pleasantly surprised how willing the three of them were to share all of this information that they learned with their peers in a fun way, but also in an informative way as well,” said Khactu.

The contestants were judged based on their lip-sync and runway performances, with Sherr winning best lip-sync, Dakoury Godo-Solo ’17 winning best runway, and Aliesha Jordan ’19 winning Drag Superstar. Godo-Solo’s performance to the song “TiK ToK” by Ke$ha was a crowd favorite. Marching confidently around the stage in black platform heels and blue jean suspenders with a red top, Godo-Solo waved his hands up to get the crowd clapping to the powerful beat.

“Dakoury’s was really amazing. He got the crowd going; he was not afraid to go all out,” said Emily Ortiz ’19.

The drag show, the first of its kind at Andover, attracted a large crowd that provided overwhelming support and gave many of the performers standing ovations.

“I saw some people there that I didn’t expect to show up, and I hoped this helped them start to think about a new outlook [on] things that we don’t generally discuss on campus. We discuss gender, obviously, but things like drag or being transgender I don’t feel are things that are talked about too often outside of spaces like GSA. I hope that [by] at least getting exposure, they find a new way to think about things,” said Sterling.