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  • Lio Salazar

Unity’s Drag Show Returns to Montante This Weekend

By: Lio Salazar, Features Contributor

Unity proudly invites all readers of The Griffin to their second drag show, “Don’t Drag Your Heels!” Unity is inviting local drag performers to Montante, as well as RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Nina West from the show’s eleventh season. The show will be hosted by local drag queen Willa DeWhisp and feature performances by Damsel ‘N Disdress, Neleh Slay, Freddie Hercury, and Tara Bishop. 

Unity’s E-Board currently consists of Amanda Ostroske serving as President, Bria Winship as Vice President, Patrick Stouter as Secretary, Dominic Vivolo as Treasurer, and Lauryn Alston as Outreach Coordinator. The Griffin sat down with the E-Board to talk about the upcoming drag show.

What’s the hardest aspect of planning an event of this scale and magnitude?

Ostroske said that “It depends on the individual for sure. I think my personal biggest struggle was staying on top of all of the outreach involved – between emailing the performers, keeping in touch with Lio and the rest of the Student Engagement and Leadership Development (SELD) office who are also helping organize, keeping in touch with Gil and Kobe with the space – it has been a lot of communication and it takes a whole village, it takes an army, to pull off an event this big. It’s definitely hard, definitely the biggest challenge, but I’d say it’s very much worth it.” 

Vivolo said that the hardest challenge for him was “figuring out how much we should plan to budget for this event”, due to wanting to give the performers a lot of money for their work, but keeping in mind what the Finance Board would be capable of approving.

Alston said that “The hardest thing was probably making the poster. Last year’s event was so big and the poster was good… and I have to make a good poster that follows the one last year, not just for the club, but for the performers themselves to be proud to be like ‘Yeah, this is my face on a poster’. Just making sure that they’re represented well in a way they deserve to be was hard, but I think I got it” and Alston did just that.

What are you most excited about for this year’s drag show?

Stouter stated that they are “... incredibly excited to see what Willa DeWhisp will bring to the table!” Unity’s show last year was hosted by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Mrs. Kasha Davis from the program’s seventh season, so this would be the first time a local drag performer would be hosting Unity’s show. 

Winship is most excited for “... how excited other people are for the show. Last year was such a success, and I think a lot of people are very excited for this year’s show as well.” Ostroske shared the same sentiment, saying that “I’m excited [drag is] coming back, and a little bit bigger than last year. We have one more performer than we did last, and based on word of mouth, I’m hoping to get more campus engagement as well.” Alston is also excited to see “that it’s happening again and that we have a lot of support from the Canisius community.”

Vivolo added that he’s excited that the show is happening again, as it’s a way for people to come to Canisius. “It reinforces the fact that drag is not a crime, it is an artform, and it can help people accept this artform a lot more, and that starts here with [Unity].”

Is there anything new that you guys are implementing this year that didn’t make it last year?

Ostoske said, “In regards to the process, advertising is a little bigger this year. We have our poster and our original Instagram post, we’re also doing a countdown to drag – both posts and stories – and I think that will help bring people in. We have a new merch item, which is going to be very exciting. It is a fun little symbol of the queer community and of drag, and it has a lot of meaning for Unity as a club.” Ostroske went on to say, “We’re bringing in all-new performers, except for fan favorite Freddie Hercury. We have three Canisius alum, so we’re showing that our alum matter and that whether or not they were out and proud then, we are bringing them back in warm, welcome, loving arms to be an authentic amazing version of their performing self.”

Vivolo is “...extremely excited for the new stickers that are going to be available this year. The stickers bring everything together, varying in styles and everybody being able to be represented in some form. I’m also very excited for more performers than last year, which kind of shows that this event is getting bigger and it’s only going to keep going up from here.” Winship added that “In collaboration with the SELD office, we’re doing a bigger meet and greet than the photo line we did last year, which was amazing, but it’s just cool to be able to mingle with the queens and king for a small bit”. Alston finished off by saying that “As someone who runs [our] Instagram, we have a lot of interaction on each post that we have and each day for the countdown. Also, I think the countdown is helping the performers be excited, because they’re posting it on their stories and messaging the Unity account and going ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so excited!’ and the excitement is definitely being felt more this year.”

Ostroske ended by saying that they “hope that everyone reading this comes to the show, shares with their friends, because it is going to be a fantastic time and you will not regret coming to such a fun, celebratory event.” Alston stated that “Regardless of whether you’re in the community or not, you should come support this art form”, with Vivolo adding, “If you come to the show and you like stuff like this, please go and find local drag shows to support your local performers as well!” Unity is incredibly excited to bring this show to Canisius once again, and they ask that you “Don’t Drag Your Heels!” as the Montante Cultural Center doors open at 6 p.m. to the public on April 20, 2024.

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