Adam Levine and Tony Stark danced onstage at the Temple Performing Arts Center on Monday, Oct. 7.
Or rather, Temple students dressed as Adam Levine and Tony Stark. In Lew Klein Hall, music blared as men and women dressed in drag, queens in 5-inch heels and fishnet tights and kings in carefully applied imitation facial hair. Throughout the show, singing and dancing performances took place in succession on a boa-littered floor.
The second annual drag show drew students, faculty and staff. The show, organized by the Queer Student Union, was the first event of National Coming Out Week – a week of events supporting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Temple community.
“National Coming Out Week has progressed each year at Temple. It’s becoming more fresh and lively,” the show’s coordinator and assistant director of Residential Life Nu’Rodney Prad said. “We adopted the [drag] show to create a refreshing, engaging environment and a different point of view for the community.”
The sold-out show began at 7:15 p.m. at TPAC.
Excluding experienced drag performers, those who wished to participate in the show had to audition. Performers included a mix of professional dancers and a few Temple students.
This was not the first time sophomore Courtney Dunn sported a suit, beard and mustache to play the role of Tony Stark. The linguistics and psychology major frequently participates in costume conventions, and this was her second year performing in the drag show.
“Last year I heard about [the show] and I said ‘I need to go,’” Dunn said. “Costumes are so fun and dressing up for Halloween isn’t enough.”
Dunn makes her costumes by gathering inexpensive garments from local thrift stores. Her favorite role to embody is Stark, the hero played by actor Robert Downey, Jr. in “Iron Man.”
“He’s my spirit animal,” Dunn said. “I aspire to be him as a person, except maybe less lonely and critical.”
Though she attends costume conventions more regularly than drag shows, Dunn said she enjoys the drag show environment and the rush she gets from roleplaying.
“I performed in the drag show,” Dunn said. “It was a performance. During costume conventions people just hang out and there isn’t as much pressure.”
Performing in a drag show may seem intimidating and outlandish to some, but Dunn said she believes everyone can benefit from the experience.
“It especially helps people with low self-esteem,” she said. “You pick a character you love, and you love the person you’re dressed as. I’m outgoing, so it isn’t a big deal for me.”
Junior environmental studies major Lauren Rangel-Friedman said she was more hesitant to perform, but after attending the drag show last year she became inspired to take a chance.
“I was that kid in high school that didn’t want to speak in front of anyone,” Rangel-Friedman said. “After seeing the show last year, I thought if I get the guts to do it, it’d be really cool.”
Rangel-Friedman played the role of Adam Levine and sang “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5. She said she was intimidated by the thought of performing alone in front of a large crowd was also something she had never done before.
Rangel-Friedman said she felt slightly more confident after the audition.
“It felt harder than the performance,” Rangel-Friedman said. “There may have been less people watching, but they were watching more intently.”
Like Dunn, Rangel-Friedman considers the show an opportunity for students to let loose and enjoy themselves, but she also finds a deeper meaning in performing.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I’m comfortable with my individuality, and this was the way to do it,” she said.
Senior Antonio Rodriguez said he views the drag show similarly.
“You see people wearing crazy outfits and their confidence draws you in,” he said. “They push being loud, singing and dancing, and it’s a time to express yourself because no one will judge you.”
Students positively reviewed last year’s performance, noting that the energy was intense.
“Imagine a great stage presence, a runway, one of the hottest dance groups on campus and a live DJ,” junior Ashley Archer said of the 2012 performance. “Take the best concert you’ve ever been to and multiply it by four – that was the drag show.”
Because it was the launch party for National Coming Out Week, the event had more features than just a drag show.
“We gave out T-shirts to the first 50 people in the audience,” Rodriguez said in reference to the 2012 drag show. “[And we] offered free HIV testing outside the show.”
This year’s performance offered the same perks to attendees.
Events for National Coming Out Week will continue this week and end with a small festival at noon on Friday, Oct. 11 at the Bell Tower. For more details and a list of events, follow @NCOWtemple on Twitter.
Claire Sasko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.