Local Queens Come Together for UNR’s Drag Show

With the local drag scene growing, Jacob Kostuchowski reports in both audio and text on the 2022 UNR drag race along with some challenges local queens may face.

Local drag queen Norvina Valoure striking a pose during their performance. Photo taken by Jacob Kostuchowski.

In late March, UNR held its annual drag show at the Joe Crowley Student Union. The excitement in the air was really something to marvel at. So many people came that it seemed that there were not enough seats for all who were in attendance.

The lights are dim, and suddenly we hear a countdown leading to the start of the show. Each queen begins to come out onstage with the crowd keeping at the same loud volume. Xitanya Valoure loves the rush of performing and what it can do for the audience.

“I’ve been doing drag for about three years now.” Xitanya said. “Yeah, I pretty much enjoy it. I enjoy making people smile. I like entertaining. I like the Latino goddess coming out of me.”

The way the crowd radiates energy almost makes you forget the types of discrimination that people within the drag community face. This includes getting interrupted on stage, hecklers and misconceptions that all drag queens want to transition into being a woman.

Reno does not have the best track record when it comes to inclusivity and Norvina Valoure, a native Renoite queen, spoke on the history this community has had to face.

“So I feel like we’re just a little more bold,” Norvina said. “And, you know, that’s basically what they had to do back then to like, gain their rights. It was either you did it, or you just stuck with what was normal at the time. So I mean, we’re just out here trying to build the community and like to uplift everyone. So hopefully, that’s how it goes. But back then I don’t think it was as accepting.”

A video of a previous drag show at UNR.

The show’s host this year is a former contestant from the TV show Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Silky Nutmeg Ganache gallantly comes out on stage flaunting her extravagant wardrobe — a cream colored dress covered in sparkles and sequins, clearly worn to impress her fans in the audience.

She works the crowd, collecting tips as she walks through. Tipping is customary when it comes to a drag show. It gives you a direct way of supporting the queens in their art, something a first time attendee might not know.

As Silky goes through the crowd she comes across an attendee that does not seem to be as into the performance as others. She even calls him out on his behavior making sure everyone knows that this is not okay.

“And I walk over here and this dude says ‘what the f–k?’ five times. All this and I don’t know what to call you. What’s your name? Rommel, so what is the f-ks for?” Silky said.

Silky is speaking in disbelief somewhat. The crowd is loving this callout. Silky continues, “Did I touch you? So why are you offended? Lemme tell you something baby, you’re in college right? Remember language matters. Thank you.”

Throughout the rest of the show the spectator gets random callouts from Silky, so much so that he is as a part of the show as the rest of the queens.

The show goes on though without a hitch with each performer bringing something unique to the table and each of them being showered in cash tips.

By the end of the show the audience is dying to know who is the overall winner of the night. The suspense is killing everyone in attendance. And finally Silky lets everyone know the winner…

“Make some noise for your winner, drumroll please… Ari!” Silky says.

As the show concludes Silky brings a familiar name up onto the stage, Rommel. Throughout the show there was a running joke with Rommel’s sexuality and it all came full circle when he was brought on stage.

Silky said, “I wanna see if you learned anything in front of all these people. Are you straight or gay?“My sexuality doesn’t matter,” Rommel answers.

Silky continues, “ I’m a drag queen, it’s what we do. I hope that I changed your life.”

Rommel was open to speak at the end of the show and was asked about his experience being a part of it. “I felt bad because I thought I had offended someone, that’s the part that scared me. It’s not that I was offended, but it’s that I made someone feel bad, and that’s never the good thing.” Rommel said. “And at the end of it, it felt great, it felt amazing cause it’s like this thing where two people don’t have to understand each other, but they can learn to live with each other. It wasn’t my environment, but with that fact I felt accepted by the end of it and I felt loved.”

Reynolds Sandbox reporting by Jacob Kostuchowski

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The Reynolds Sandbox showcases innovative and engaging storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab.

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Reynolds Sandbox

Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.

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