I never expected that I would see Britney Spears and Beyoncé perform on the same night, let alone on the same tiny stage in the Isla Vista Theater. For Pride Week, the Associated Students Queer Commission hosted a drag show on Thursday, April 7, featuring fellow UCSB students, alumni and Derrick Barry, a contestant on the current season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. After waiting nearly 30 minutes in line and getting the very last seat, I thought I was ready for the show, but nothing could’ve prepared me for what I was about to experience.
From drag queens to drag kings, powerhouse single performances to amazing group-choreographed performances, each act was extraordinary. You would’ve never guessed that these performers were lip-synching, and you’d be floored by the crazy moves they did in heels. The hosts, Miss Olivia Bee and Jenna Suicide, were truly the heart and soul of the show. Even though most of the time they were stalling until the next act was ready, their bits were hilarious.
The best, most exciting part of the show was undoubtedly Derrick Barry’s Britney Spears impersonations. Barry’s three amazing performances in three beautiful costumes were so convincing that it seemed as though Britney Spears was actually performing on stage.
There were so many other noteworthy performances, but Vivien Fox’s Beyoncé performance really stood out to me. She strutted down the aisles in pastor robes and then yanked them off to reveal a fierce, fiery red outfit. At some point during the performance, a few audience members ran on stage and pulled off some of their own crazy dance moves. That was only a taste of the amount of enthusiasm the audience had throughout the show.
I asked Derrick Barry what the best of part of performing was and he said that it was “definitely the audience” — I agree. During every performance, an audience member would go up to stage and hand a few dollars to the performer. Sometimes an audience member would only have to wave their dollars in the air and a queen would go up to their seat and give them a more personal dance.
The theater was hot, humid and loud, but that energy from the audience was what made the show. After it ended, I was still recovering from what an experience it was, but at the same time, I was considering the importance of this show for the LGBT+ community. When I asked why drag shows were such an important part of pride week, Derrick Barry said, “It requires a lot of pride and confidence to go up and perform. And hopefully we inspire those people who don’t have a lot of pride about their own identity.”
It’s been a few days since the show ended, but it still resonates in my mind. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should attend a drag show, I highly recommend that you do. Not only is it an easy way to support the LGBT+ community, but also it’s a stunning experience that’ll leave your throat sore from cheering and chest hurting from laughter.