This past Saturday, Nov. 3, the Queens and Kings of New Paltz (QKNP) hosted their final show, “Villain Edit.” Held in SUB100N at 8 p.m., the event showcased the club’s drag artists performing as their favorite villains from various movies and stories. The lineup consisted of a wide range of characters, like Sharpay Evans from “High School Musical,” The Once-ler from “The Lorax” and DC Comic’s “The Joker.” Each one brought an enjoyable take on the villain theme, resulting in a truly fun show.
Amazing performances don’t come from thin air, and spontaneous spectacles don’t just happen. QKNP’s “Villain Edit” took weeks to prepare and required collaborative efforts between its members. The club itself has taken a couple of years to bounce back from COVID-19. When club president Kris DiMaggio, a.k.a. Kupid Kandycorn, first joined, the club only consisted of a few members. Everything was online as well, including the performances. DiMaggio, a music performance major in their third year, laughed when recalling their time as a first-year in the club. “We had these virtual shows that three people would be logging on to watch, and one of them was my mom.” The club has since rebounded with a passion; their first show post-quarantine had over 100 spectators attend, according to DiMaggio. This semester, QKNP also received a budget, helping the club to operate and perform.
QKNP have been very active in recent years in regards to promotion. Word-of-mouth and social media have been incredibly valuable for the club’s growth. QKNP’s members are often involved in other clubs and will spread knowledge of QKNP to those clubs and their own friends. Many of the people in the audience knew at least one performer. Gianna Palermo, a 19-year-old psychology major, had attended Saturday’s event to watch a close friend perform.
Social media has especially been crucial, enabling the drag artists to share their events and performances, as well as allowing others to reach out to the club. “We’ve had a lot of people reach out to us for collaborations and we’re having some of our own members perform at the New Paltz Pride Masquergay-d next week,” said DiMaggio. Masquergay-d is SUNY New Paltz’s Pride Club multi-club pride event that is being held in the MPR at 8 p.m. on Dec. 9.
But let’s rewind. For some, drag is a normal aspect of their lives, like any other interest. For others, it is a completely foreign and misunderstood art form. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “Drag is a type of entertainment where people dress up and perform, often in highly stylized ways.” Often, drag artists will dress up as a character that is a different gender than their own. This does not mean the performers are specifically transgender, nor does it exclude any gender. Anyone can do drag. QKNP artist Robin Heartz said, “Drag isn’t always a linear thing; it’s whatever you want to do. You can be whatever you want.” The essence of drag is purely self-expression, translated through a performance, supplemented with music and costumes, all to convey a performer’s feelings. There’s no malicious agenda behind it, despite some certain groups arguing the contrary. Last Saturday’s performance certainly reinforced that idea.
“Villain Edit” was spectacular from start to finish. The energy from the drag artists and the audience was consistently high and carried throughout the show. Audience members were regaled from appearances of all different types of villains. The aforementioned Once-ler launched the evening and was followed by the likes of Captain Hook, the Other Mother from “Coraline,” and Agent Smith from “The Matrix.” Such a wide cast of characters only added to the night’s amazing atmosphere. The dances and lip-synching brought not only performative elements, but story lines, like Peter Pan versus Captain Hook. The Joker even made a scandalous appearance during The Riddler’s performance, much to the audience’s delight, and comments like “homewrecker’’ were gleefully shouted by audience members. The drag artists dialed their acts to 11 and kept the audience entertained. DiMaggio emceed throughout the event, introducing each act with comedic ad-libs. A personal favorite was “When I first saw this next performance, it knocked my socks off, and I had to find new ones.” DiMaggio did a great job tying the whole event together.
Overall, “Villain Edit” provided a great experience and everybody present was thoroughly entertained. Even with some technical difficulties and nerves from performers, the drag show proved to be a success. Tyler D’Ambrosio, a second-year environmental studies major, remarked after the show, “It was impeccable.”