Student organizes drag show hoping to make community more accessible

Christine Dudley, A&C Reporter

When freshman psychology major Andrew Vest first stepped onstage in full drag in high school, he was almost shaking with nerves. Once he started his routine, the infectious energy from the crowd gave him a rush. After that small talent show, Vest never looked back.

“Normally I’m not the loudest,” Vest said. “I’m a little more reserved, and so drag allowed me to sort of grow out of that, and kind of open up, which really helped for college.”

Now Vest is organizing his own show, “Life’s a Drag Show,” to make drag more prominent in Boone. Vest noticed that App State clubs Appalachian Popular Programming Society, and Sexuality and Gender Alliance organized all the drag shows in Boone.

“I want to get drag culture out there,” Vest said. “I want it to be presented as a culturally important thing and something that we can do in Boone, and it doesn’t just have to be through the school.”

Vest will donate proceeds to Applied Family Services, a nonprofit in Winston-Salem that gives families support, skills and resources to help children with developmental delays. Vest said he wants to give to this organization because his younger brother has autism.

Vest said his parents do not love that he does drag because they still see it as a taboo subculture of the gay community. Vest said they especially hate his drag name, Faggety Anne. His parents do not understand drag culture but have slowly grown accustomed to it, from seeing pictures of him in drag and watching him invest a lot of time and money into the hobby. Vest said his parents are slightly more accepting now that he is raising money for charity.

Freshman communication studies major Abby Harris, an aspiring event planner, is working out the show’s logistics, putting together the set list and setting up the room. Vest said he is grateful for Harris’ help because it has been a challenge keeping up with classes while organizing the show.

“If I get too stressed, I go to sleep and then I wake up and I try again in the morning,” Vest said.

Harris is going as Abigail Moon and said she might perform, but she will mainly emcee.

Vest convinced his roommate, freshman education major Hunter Jefferson, and friend, freshman environmental science major Garrett Jordan, to perform a duet as Cheyenne Peppers and G-String. The show will be their first time performing in drag. Jefferson and Jordan will perform a combination of comedy sketches and lip-sync routines. Vest took them shopping at Goodwill for their outfits.

“The only look we could get was like a church lady look, so we’re playing off of that,” Jordan said.

Jefferson and Jordan said they have practiced walking in heels and feel much sassier now.

“We’re going to look sexy as hell,” Jefferson said.

Along with the newbies, Vest booked a few professional drag queens. Natasha Noir Nightly will drive from Asheville to perform.

Vest is performing as Faggety Anne.

“I took the qualities I liked about myself, like my humor, wit…and exaggerated them all,” Vest said. “And so it’s just like a branch of myself that gets to come out when I’m in drag.”

Faggety Anne will rock a punk look—wavy pink hair, a ripped, black T-shirt, pink fishnets and black torn up tights. Vest said one of his routines will include clips from his favorite horror movies.

Jordan and Jefferson said Vest is their biggest drag inspiration. Vest educates them about the drag community and introduced them to “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a reality TV show in which queens compete to become “America’s next drag superstar.” Vest said this generation and the generations before fought for drag to become mainstream, fun and free.

“It’s something different, it’s new, you can kind of go up there and be a whole different thing that you’ve never been before,” Jordan said.

Jefferson said he likes drag because people do not judge as much in that environment.

“No matter who you are or whatever you’ve been through, you can still go on stage and have the best time of your life, or at least watch someone have the best time of their life,” Harris said.

“Life’s a Drag Show” is on March 30 at 3rd Place. The doors open at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. The cover charge is $3, and tips for the performers are highly encouraged.