Fans were waving, lights were flashing and students were cheering at California State University, Monterey Bay’s (CSUMB) second-annual drag show. The event sold over 200 tickets and lasted from 8 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 12.
Werk Witch was put on as a collaboration between the pride club, Otter Student Union and Otter Cross Cultural Center. Thirty minutes before opening, the line was down the University Center Ballroom steps.
“In the springtime, this was the only event everyone was talking about,” said third-year student and attendant Bryant Taylor.
Emcees included local queer DJ Ayumi Please and drag performers Xochi and Lalo Ka. Student contestants were competing for the title of Mx. Congeniality with first, second and third place awards to follow. This year’s Mx. Congeniality was awarded to Terra Card and first place was awarded to Ann Dim Sum More.
Former Mx. Congeniality winner Dairy Queen made an appearance to the song “Milkshake” by Kenis, before joining two CSUMB community members at the judging table.
Toni With an I also made a recurrence to the Werk Witch stage, mimicking the ballad of Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” with a prop mic and stand. Between their light-up jacket and 80s sensibilities, Toni With an I was, as the judges put it, “larger than life.” Similarly, drag queen Nova gave an intense, passionate act to the song “Sex Dreams” by La Loca. Both standalone performances were met with audience praise for their vibrancy.
Xochi and Lalo Ka weren’t the only duos; queens Tia and Tamera had an explosive, confetti-filled act to the Doja Cat song of the same name. In addition, drag king Papito Freako dueted with drag kings Cholito Lingo and Mayor Puddin’, respectively. The former was a romantic fight-turned-dance, whose message was spelled out in Freako’s “QUEER AMOR” sign. The latter was a cowboy skit, complete with a guitar interlude and fake money pistol shootout. Papito Freako and Mayor Puddin’ placed third in the Werk Witch competition.
Mx. Congeniality recipient Terra Card also chose a more skit-oriented performance. To the song “Rasputin” by Boney M., Terra Card reenacted the descent of holy man Grigori Rasputin by dousing herself in fake poison wine. Much like her half-undead, half-glamorous makeup, her show consistently bordered between gruesome and magnificent, while remaining completely invigorating. Her title was well-deserved.
Many contestants aligned themselves with specific characters. Visiting performer and professional drag queen Catinni P. Vanden embodied Pennywise the Dancing Clown from “It” to the song “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande. In between, Catinni played clips of the clown’s villainous laugh, which was in accordance to the event’s Halloween theme.
“I came for a drag show, I did not expect an ‘It’ burlesque,” said transfer student and attendant Stephen Goff-Charlton.
First-place winner and drag queen Ann Dim Sum More performed as DC Comics’ Poison Ivy to “Toxic” by Britney Spears. In her glow-in-the-dark skirt and vine accessories, she was definitely a fan favorite.
Drag king Lil’ Freddy, acting as a replica of Queen’s Freddy Mercury, won second place.
“Becoming a character takes a lot of getting into your character, understanding your character … once you feel it, you feel it,” said first-year student Crystelle Vargas, who performed as Lil’ Freddy.
His entrance was energetic and he kept the hype consistent in his show-stopping leather pants. Naturally, Lil’ Freddy came out to “Don’t Stop Me Now.” Vargas assured that we’ll definitely see him again.
Drag queen Marsha Ann appeared as a classic yet nonspecific alien, adorned with silver antennae, hooded black eyes and a neon green dress.
“I believe that drag queens are a form of modern day clowning … I like making people laugh, I like having fun and I’m able to perform on stage,” said first-year Charlie Claudino, who performed as Marsha Ann.
To the song “I Like em’ Big and Stupid” by Julie Brown, Marsha Ann’s act was part comedic, part eccentric and all of what Please called “my kind of drag.”
After gold-spray painted Barbie dolls were handed out and performers danced out to “Nails, Hair, Hips, Heals” by Todrick Hall, the audience swarmed the ballroom’s reception area for pictures with their favorite drag artists.
“That was a stellar performance by everybody,” said Goff-Charleton.
As attendees trickled out, one thing was certain; the third annual show couldn’t come sooner.