EROS’ 2023 Drag Show: Innovating the Annual Tradition

3 min read

Jules Bourbeau ’25

A&E Editor

While Trinity’s Gay-Straight Alliance, Encouraging Respect of Sexualities, has held a drag show annually every spring for the past few years, the performance held on Friday marked several firsts for the organization. For one, each of the performers were from the Connecticut area, many of whom are regulars at Hartford’s Chez Est. In years past, they have originated from as far as New York to Virginia, but out of a hope to help support and foster the local LGBT+ community, EROS chose to hire exclusively Connecticut-based performers. These included Ambrosia Black, Natalia Fierce, Paxx Headroom, and the show’s hostess, Angel Rivers. Additionally, the DJ, Ephraim Adamzis also based in Hartford.

Another first for EROS was the impromptu amateur drag competition à la Lip Sync Battle held during intermission. Two volunteers from the audience stepped up to don the most camp wigs on hand and proceeded to do their best rendition of Lizzo’s “About Damn Time.” The segment allowed the performers to prepare for Act Two while also incorporating participation from Trinity students for the first time in the tradition’s history. At the end of the performances, the audience voted for their favorite based on who received the most rousing shouts and applause.

The energy ramped up during Act Two, with performers scaling the seats at the back of the theater, dropping into splits, and ripping off shirts. If the audience’s throats weren’t already sore from cheering during Act One, they were by then, not to mention their raw palms from clapping so eagerly. The numbers ranged fromrisqué to elegant to absolutely insane, making for a varied yet well-integrated setlist that entertained fans of all styles of drag.

Well over 100 people packed the chairs and bleachers of Cornelia Center, and according to a quick poll, for about half of them, it was their first-ever drag show. While entry was completely free, guests had the option to donate to the Trevor Project, a charity for transgender youth, in order to be entered into a gift card raffle. Together, EROS raised almost $200 for the organization. With the campus climate forLGBT+, especially transgender students, receiving several blows in the past year, it sent an encouraging message that the community can still come together to celebrate the vibrant beauty of LGBT+ culture.

At the end of the show, Angel Rivers spoke about how she had once visited Trinity College as a middle schooler for a school dance. She recalled feeling out of place and insecure, an experience relatable to many a queer youth. To be able to return to the same place, however, in a liberatory and affirming context years later, was a cathartic moment for her. All the performers sauntered on stage for a final standing ovation, and the 2023 EROS drag show was officially marked a success. Hopefully, this represents a future of further collaboration with the Hartford community and sets a precedent for continued innovation within the organization.

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