On Wednesday night, NYU hosted perhaps its most fierce and ferocious event ever: NY(Drag)U: The Ultimate Drag King & Queen Walk-Off Challenge (the only flaw in this whole event was its mouthful of a title). The show, hosted by NYU’s LGBTQ Services, pitted drag kings and queens alike against each other in a lip-synching competition. A major draw of the event was the host, Bebe Zahara Benet, the first winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, known for being the absolute shit.
Bebe kicked things off in a skintight black dress that she worked the hell out of. She introduced the judges, performers Ignacio Rivera, Joe Picini and Alberto Cortes, as well as Vera Veronica, owner of Miss Vera’s Finshing School for Boys Who Want to be Girls. Ignacio performed an opening number. Lip-synching to Garbage’s “Queer,” Ignacio did a strip tease of sorts, first showing censor-like bars on her chest and lady-parts, and then ripping off the top to reveal basically bare boobs with nipple pasties. Apparently Kimmel 802 has recently transformed into Scores.
Next up were the Drag Kings. Our first contestant called himself Chuck Williams, a freshman in LSP who would like to become a country musician or, as Bebe put it, a “bloggist.” In her (his?) video, Chuck said she (he? I feel I’m disrespecting a lot of gender politics here) was here to “make fun of mainstream masculinity with a song in [his] heart and a sock in [in] pants.” Chuck performed Brad Paisley’s “I’m Still a Guy,” a rather appropriate choice. The performance was rife with aggressive gyrating and crotch-grabbing, and ended with Chuck taking the dildo out of his pants and giving it a kiss. Talk about a gender-fuck.
Up next was Hunter Down, who gave it his all during a performance of Dead or Alive’s “Right Round.” This was also rife with crotch grabbing and gyration. If there is some place where dudes actively grab their crotches at all times, I would not like to visit. But the King competition belonged to the perfectly named Buster Highmen. Buster, who revealed that he is in fact a shy girl from NYU Poly in her entrance video, owned the catwalk while dancing to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” It was badass.
Then came the queens. First was Nikki Peaches, who did by far the best video, declaring that she was a glamazon who wears “heels that are bigger than your dick.” Nicki danced to RuPaul’s “Glamazon,” a most excellent song choice, whilst wearing quite the mini dress and the hugest stripper heels this blogger has ever seen. Daphne J also worked a performance of “Oasis” by Amanda Palmer, and girl wore one tiny outfit. Said Veronica, “You really were a crack whore.”
Victory over the whole competition went to one Minnie Cupcakes. I was frightened when Bebe read the description of Minnie’s interests, which included “finger-painting, playing, candy, and getting lost.” Was she supposed to be some sort of pedophile-fantasy drag queen? But it didn’t matter. Minnie was fantastic in her performance of Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass.” She aped Nicki’s robotic movements from the first part of the video perfectly, and took them to a whole new, scary level. It was an excellent, if epileptic, act.
But the night really belonged to Bebe, who is even more hilarious in person than she is on TV. She was late, and apologized with, “You ever try catching a cab from Brooklyn? How about catching a cab from Cameroon?” She worked the crowd, sitting on the lap of the lone straight guy (“What’s your name?” “Ted.” “Ooh that’s butch.”) and shaking her hips. She closed the show by lip-syncing to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumor Has It” and dancing all up on one of my Gallatin Freshmen Orientation Leaders. She was amazing and one of the most charismatic performers I’ve ever had the fortune of seeing. Bebe can do more with lip-synching than most artists can do with opera. Pop stars should take a lesson.
Bebe really drove home the show’s message of equality and empowerment. “It’s still a battle we are fighting. We have to fight for equality, for unity and for love,” she said. “All that’s in this room is just love, and we all just ask for love and respect.” And that’s all I felt in that room. Everyone had a blast, especially everyone onstage. I hope that each performer felt strength up there, because everyone I saw in the audience was supporting them. It was a fantastic event, one that I hope NYU can continue to do.