By Simon Isham–
The most sickening spectacle on campus returns for its 17th year. And in this case — and only in this case — “sickening” is a good thing! Turn with me in your drag dictionaries to “S.” Sickening (adj.): incredibly amazing, excessively hot.
“We’re kind of like Lady Gaga in the LGBT Center: we live for the applause,” said Lisa Gunterman, U of L LGBT Center’s assistant director, who introduced the show. PINK, U of L’s annual drag variety show took place Friday night.
Typically, it is Director Brian Buford who introduces the show, but this night was anything but typical: Buford participated as a performer this year.
Buford was the winner of the Making Change competition, in which students vote for the person they most want to see perform in PINK by dropping money in a bucket in the Intersection. In the production, Buford was one of a trio, along with PINK veterans Kimora St. James and Kashmere St. James. The three performed as The Dreams from the 2006 musical “Dreamgirls,” in a very dignified performance.
At the end of the song, the tip line was still so long that the show’s organizers called a 15-minute intermission in order to give Buford a chance to thank all his fans and collect the money. Buford will be donating all of the tips he received to the LGBT Center and to the Rustin Community, a social justice-themed living community comprising two floors of the University Tower Apartments.
The show was co-coordinated by two students, Johnathon Hockensmith and Alex Cooper. Hockensmith, a sophomore, also performed in the show as drag queen Jessica Silvers.
The “mother” of the House of PINK was Reva Devereaux, who has held the role for the past several years. In drag culture, a drag mother is an experienced drag queen who acts as a mentor and guide to less experienced queens.
“Let me fess up,” Devereaux said. “I almost couldn’t make it.”
She recounted the story of how, the week before PINK, she had hit herself in the face with the door of her car, which knocked out a tooth. Devereaux said she called Buford, who told her: “Mothers can’t take off because they’re missing a tooth; you’ve got to get your butt in there.”
“All the performers tonight are donating their money to such good causes. All the proceeds (from my performances) go to my tooth fund,” Devereaux joked.
PINK 2014 included 23 performances by 18 acts. The entertainers ranged in levels of experience, from fresh-faced drag amateurs Cecil Saturn and Bebe Blaze, to Play Dance Bar playmates Spacee Kadett and Bianca Nicole. Miss Kentuckiana Pride Festival 2013, Vivica Heart, also made an appearance, wearing leopard-print leotard with a glittery bustle, and feathered hair piled high.
Music chosen for the show was Beyonce-heavy. I have included all of the tracks I could identify:
- “Supermodel (You Better Work)” by RuPaul
- “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones
- “Once Upon a Dream” by Lana Del Rey
- “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry ft. Juicy J
- “I Put a Spell on You” by Bette Midler
- “Get Me Bodied” by Beyonce
- “You Light Up My Life” by Whitney Houston
- “Drunk in Love” by Beyonce
- “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce
- “Single Ladies” by Beyonce
- “Fashion (‘The Fame’ version)” by Lady Gaga
- “Fashion (‘ARTPOP’ version)” by Lady Gaga
- “I’m a Slave 4 U” by Britney Spears
- “My Boyfriend’s Back” by Paris Bennett
- “Trouble” by Neon Jungle
- “Boy Dance Party” Saturday Night Live Highlight
- “Spectrum (Say My Name)” by Florence + The Machine
- “Love is All Around” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” Theme Song
- “Bosom Buddies” by Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur
- “Work B**ch” by Britney Spears
“It’s just always amazing how incredible this community is and how distinct the University of Louisville is compared to other universities,” said Keith Brooks, co-coordinator of the Fairness Campaign. Brooks attended the event, despite the fact that his organization didn’t reserve a table this year, as they usually do. “They are so supportive of LGBT students, staff and faculty. It’s really remarkable.”
When asked if he had any particular favorite performer, Brooks said, “They were all my favorites. But I was really impressed by Brian (Buford). I didn’t have any idea that he would perform. It was a very pleasant surprise.”
The event was followed by an afterparty at the recently opened Play Dance Bar, which also hosts popular drag shows.
Full disclosure: Hockensmith is a former member of the Cardinal’s advertising staff, but we’re guessing he made more money as a performer at PINK than he did as a salesman.