SAA hosted the university’s first drag race in the BPSC movie theatre on Oct. 9. The event began at 7 p.m. Within moments, the theater reached its full capacity, having nearly 400 students there to witness the occasion.
The drag race began with the SAA Drag Race event planner Ariel Perez Jarvis, a senior psychology major from Irving, providing audience members with a brief history of drag culture. She mentioned and gave recognition to pioneers and major influencers in the drag community like Julian Eltinge, Flawless Sabrina and Ru Paul.
Jarvis’ inspiration for the show came from her proud LGBTQ+ family, and her motivation to bring awareness and knowledge about the drag community onto a campus like SFA.
“I wanted to represent a community that doesn’t get a lot of recognition,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis rounded up participants for the race by reaching out to SFA students through social media platforms, flyers and old- fashioned word of mouth.
Along with SFA student participants, SAA also showcased two professional drag queens, Autumn Elise Taylor and Stakka Ca$h. Jarvis discovered the performers through her own personal interest in attending drag shows and her local connections here in Nacogdoches.
The SAA Drag Race was an all-inclusive event and welcomed both drag queens and kings to the stage for the chance to win a $150 cash prize.
The winner of the SAA Drag Race was Elle Wootie, a graduate student at SFA in the field of clinical and mental health from Beaumont. Wootie captivated the crowd dancing to the song, “I Don’t Want It All” by Kim Petras, while styling a pink high-low romper with pink accented makeup to match.
“I tried to base my routine and look off the movie, ‘Legally Blonde,’” Wooite said. “‘The main character’s name is Elle Woods which is how I came up with the name Elle Wootie. I came to the show confident tonight. I knew that everyone was deserving, and I just put my heart and soul into [it]. My favorite part about the overall experience was the opportunity to network with others that are apart of the drag community at SFA and in Nacogdoches.”
The audience members of the SAA Drag Race witnessed drag race competitors that not only performed on the stage but took to the crowds and danced throughout the BPSC movie theatre, which resulted in cheers and standing ovations from the crowd.
Many of the drag kings and queens performed unique high-energy dance routines. One of the student drag queens decided to take a different approach to wooing the audience by gathering peers onto the stage for a roast that added a humorous element to the show as well.
“The show was mesmerizing,” Bellodgia Roberston, electrical engineering major from Pearland, said. “I loved it, and it opened up new horizons here on campus.”
“SAA has some events that happen every year on campus,” Jarvis said. “I would love to be able to host this event again. Hopefully, SAA Drag Race could become an event that is a tradition here on campus."
Jarvis also explained how monetary donations or tipping is commonly a part of the drag culture as a way to show gratitude to give a performer props. All SAA events are free to SFA students. To maintain authentic atmosphere of the drag race with no expense to student audience members, the crowd was given fake money to throw at drag queens and kings who they thought were really livening up the show.