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Drag Academy 101 entertains and educates

By Allyson Betot

October 25, 2012

Photo by Hillary Akers

The four performers sit on stage to answer questions from the audience regarding the drag life style and career.
On Oct. 12, students came together in Moore Hall Auditorium to watch and participate in Drag Academy 101.

Drag Academy 101, tagged "a fabulous drag show with an educational twist!" featured three drag queens and one drag king, as well as performances by audience volunteers.

This event was sponsered by the Office of Multicultural and Minority Affairs, the Counseling and Testing Center, The Alliance of Fayetteville, NC, and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance.

Two of the three drag queens, Miss Noel and Hillary Matthews, are seasoned professionals that have preformed nationwide, while Tatianna Matthews (a UNCP student) has been preforming locally for the past few years and Justin Beaver (another UNCP student) has been performing for less than a year.

After performing one song each, the performers sat down at a table in front of the audience to discuss frequently asked questions and to address questions from the audience.

What is it?

"To me, a drag queen is any straight or gay man that enjoys the artform of dance and performance by impersonating a woman," Tatianna Matthews said.

Miss Noel believes that the sterotype of drag kings and queens is that they are transgendered.

"I don't live my life as a woman every day. I am not a woman. I am not an 'it'; I am a man, a man in a dress," Miss Noel said.

Over the years drag has changed from its early Greek and Roman days, where it was used in the theater where female characters were portrayed by men.

"Today, drag has transformed a lot; it's more about the illusion. Drag has been around for a long time," said Hillary Matthews, who has been a drag performer since 1985. Hillary Matthews is often cited as an "illusion artist" because of her detailed performances as Cher and Reba McEntire.

Why do it?

Performers take the stage for many reasons, even those in drag.

"I love to dance. It's almost like an outlet. I can just be someone else. It's fun being Justin Beiber," Beaver said. Beaver's performance of hip-hop and pop'n'lock dance moves were met with large rounds of applause from the audience.

"Different aspects come out of you when you are another person," Beaver said.

Beaver described her every day personality as being somewhat shy and standoffish. By comparison, her personality as Justin Beaver is the exact opposite when she is met by an adoring crowd at clubs and other events.

"I have really bad stage fright as Alex, but not as Tatianna," Tatianna Matthews said.

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