Rainbow pride flags adorned the walls of the Glenn Memorial Auditorium and cheering students and faculty filled the benches on Oct. 19 as 10 Emory student organizations faced off in Emory Pride’s annual Drag Show Competition for the $250 cash prize.
The competition was friendly yet fierce, and at the end of the night, Phi Delta Epsilon emerged as the champion with immense support from the audience and approval from the judges. Persuasion Dance Crew took second place, followed by Aural Pleasure in third place.
A total of eight students, administrators and professors served as judges for the competition and their criteria for who would win was based on audience engagement, originality and quality of performance.
Before introducing the competitors, the host, a non-binary drag queen who goes by the drag name Pam, and Emory Pride member Tommy Greenler (22C) kicked off the competition by performing “Don’t Kill My Vibe” by Sigrid, both dressed in sequin mini-dresses.
After their performance, Lord Dooley graced the audience with her presence, and her guards shared words of support for Emory’s “vibrant LGBTQ community at Emory.” Dooley and her guards then joined in on the spirit and danced to a range of music, from “Cotton Eye Joe” by Rednex to “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)” by Khia.
The night’s first performance came from a member of The Emory Spoke. The performer, Liam Fost (21C), who goes by the drag name Foxy Fosty, was dressed in a crop top and jean shorts with his hair flowing down to his torso. Foxy Fosty began by dramatically singing “Tear Me Down” from the musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and dancing with the microphone stand. He shocked the crowd when he picked an audience member from the front row and squirted whipped cream into their mouth.
Student Programming Council (SPC) then took the stage, and the council’s newest members joined in on the performances. They danced to a combination of songs like “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé and “Boys” by Lizzo. The performers who had smiles plastered across their faces, wore crop tops, jean shorts, oversized button-down shirts and backwards hats.
Met with a standing ovation from the crowd, Emory’s international medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon stole the show. Two members of the fraternity took to the stage in black trench coats with their backs towards the audience, leaving an element of mystery. The performance then turned into an erotic and steamy piece. The duo danced to “Sweet but Psycho” by Ava Max and featured the title of the song on the backs of their shirts. At the end of their show, they grabbed a member of the audience, danced on him and used a knife to dramatically pretend to kill him to “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande. The audience responded with minutes of applause and dropped jaws.
Fred Thompson (20C), one of the performers from Phi Delta Epsilon, expressed extreme gratitude for the chance to perform in front of his peers while also spreading awareness for LGBTQ+ rights.
“I just wanna thank everybody for coming out and having such a great audience,” Thompson said. “That is really why we do this work, because it’s so important to give back and show your true self to further the rights of people in the world.”
The fifth group was Emory’s only R&B a cappella group, AHANA A Capella. AHANA A Cappella produced a soulful and rich-sounding performance of “Thank You” by Boyz II Men and “Versace on the Floor” by Bruno Mars while dressed in button-down shirts and ties, leaving the audience with chills.
AHANA A Cappella’s performance took the show to intermission, during which almost 30 audience members participated in a fashion show competition, walking down the aisle and strutting fierce poses.
Audience member Lucy Yates (23C) was surprised to find some familiar faces in the fashion show and was pleased with the overall event.
“I really liked the fashion show because I got to cheer on my friends, some friends I didn’t realize were even here,” Yates said.
After the intermission came to a close, a performance by Nsai Temko (23C) opened up the second half of the show. Temko donned a brightly patterned jumpsuit, a black cape and rainbow eyeshadow.
As the competition began to come to an end, the final a cappella group to perform was Aural Pleasure. The singers strutted down the catwalk silently wearing an assortment of clothes ranging from suits to a zebra-print dress. The performance became a face-off between two of the performers and ended with one drag queen snatching the wig off of another.
The Emory all female hip-hop dance crew Persuasion performed last, and had the audience cheering as they deviated from their usual style and wore white tank tops, basketball shorts and backwards hats.
Setting aside the competition, several students, including Mitra Alikhani (22C), noticed that the night was filled with acceptance and energy to support Emory Pride.
“These performances enlightened me to the fact at how vibrant and amazingly active the LGBTQ+ community at Emory is,” Alikhani said. “[It was] amazing to see everyone come out here, show their colors and be proud of who they are.”
Fred Thompson (20C) is a contributing writer for the Arts & Entertainment section.