DePaul students perform at amateur drag show

A student performs at the amateur drag show last Friday. The event, sponsored by Act Out DePaul, allows for students to express themselves in ways they otherwise could not. (Olivia Jepson / The DePaulia)
A student performs at the amateur drag show last Friday. The event, sponsored by Act Out DePaul, allows for students to express themselves in ways they otherwise could not. (Olivia Jepson / The DePaulia)

Sophomore Jeremy Martens first figured out he loved to perform drag before he moved to the city, practicing in his bedroom. Because of his love for the performance, he decided to be a part of Act Out DePaul’s annual amateur drag show on Friday, May 2.

“It’s really scary, but it’s so much fun,” Martens said. “I love making people laugh and making them have fun, so I like having the opportunity to just be crazy and do whatever I want.”

Martens’ stage name is Sara Tonin, a name that suits her because she “loves to party.” Sara Tonin performed two acts in the show, one duet and one solo. Martens performed the duet with his boyfriend, sophomore Arie Thompson, whose stage name is Mela Tonin because she “loves to sleep.”

But Martens won the drag show because of his solo performance to the song “I Wanna F*** Right Now,” dressed as a nun. Because he came in first place, now Martens will have the chance to perform in the sixth annual professional drag show, which will take place on Thursday, May 21 in the student center at 8:30 p.m.

He will not perform the same routine as he did in the amateur drag show. However, Martens confessed it will probably be something weird along the same lines.

Part of the reason Act Out puts on the drag show is to let people like Martens be as expressive as they would like. This meant adding drag kings to the list of performers, women that dressed up as men.

“It’s all about the gender queer folk,” Act Out President Noah Barth said. “I really want to emphasize that cause it’s really not about just being a king or a queen. Gender is such a wide variety of beautiful people and a spectrum, but I think that everyone should have the chance to perform, especially if you don’t have the opportunity to express yourself in your everyday life.”

In addition to this, the show is also put on because drag is such a huge part of the nightlife in Chicago. Since many students are not 21, they cannot get into bars to perform or simply watch the drag performances.

Act Out Vice President Patrick Pfohl said having the drag show also allows more students at DePaul to just become exposed to drag performance.

“Drag is such an accessible form of performance and it’s very unique,” Pfohl said.  “So I think putting on a show and especially having students able to see their peers performing in drag helps them get more used to drag performance. It’s starting to become more mainstream (in) pop culture. Having students perform is important just for the peers to be like ‘Oh my friend is doing this. This is kind of cool. What is drag?’ It gets more (people talking about it).”

By talking about drag, people will not have as many misconceptions about it. One of the biggest misconceptions is that the men or women who perform want to be the gender they are performing as. However, that is not always the case.

“If I dress up in drag as a woman, it doesn’t mean that I want to be a woman,” Pfohl said. “(Being a) drag queen is a performance. What people will say is ‘drag is what I do and trans is who I am’ so if you’re a trans person, that’s who you are after you take all the makeup. But if I’m just a drag queen, I’m getting the face and makeup on, but I can take it off and I’m still going to be a man at the end of the day.”

Whether trans or not, Act Out hopes to have more and more students performing, in the future. For anyone that has ever wanted to perform but simply hasn’t had the courage, Martens has a piece of advice.

“Find the crazy thing that you want to do and then just do it to the best of your ability,” Martens said. “Don’t be afraid to (mess) it up cause you’re going to (mess) it up a lot. Don’t be afraid to be perfect. Just do it and see what happens. You find you’re own (way) and it’s worth it.”