“RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Jaidynn Diore Fierce will headline the 19th annual UWM Drag Show, with soul pop singer Lex Allen performing at intermission Feb. 24 at the Miller High Life Theatre, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave.
The show, which begins at 7 p.m., will be emcéed by celebrated drag performers Lady J (Jazz Nance) and Montell Infiniti Ross (Broderick Pearson).
Fierce began her drag career in Nashville, Tennessee. After competing in local drag pageants for several years, she decided to audition for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” sending in three audition tapes before being selected for season 7 of the show.
Allen is a Milwaukee native whose music is known for its empowering and inclusive lyrics. His newest album, “Table 7: Sinners and Saints,” will be released on Feb. 27.
The performers’ appearances in this year’s drag show are largely facilitated by the Campus Activities Board and by the LGBT Resource Center.
“The Drag Show builds a sense of opportunity for visibility of LGBTQ+ communities,” said Jen Murray, director of the UWM LGBT Resource Center. “This event creates an opportunity for people to come out and experience what an LGBTQ+ cultural celebration can look like.”
The show produced by UWM has consistently been one of the largest drag performances in the Midwest, and has become a signature event that is on the UWM Bucket List.
Around half of the drag kings and queens that participate in the show each year are UWM students. Other performers come from all over Wisconsin. All performers audition for the show.
Although drag is often thought of as female impersonation, or the “diva” personality, some new-era performers draw inspiration from pop culture personas, such as models or television characters. Others channel stereotypes of male and female behavior and present these generalizations to draw attention to the problems that can arise from making assumptions about gender, race, identity and sexuality.
“My hope is that people will take away a sense of pride and connection, and an understanding of one of the historical forms for LGBTQ+ cultural celebration and expression,” said Murray. “I hope that people will realize that this event strives to create a sense of belonging that affirms supporting LGBTQ+ individuals being true to who they are.”
Every year, performers at the UWM Drag Show accept tips from audience members during their performances and donate the money to programs that support LGBTQIA+ youth. This year, proceeds will benefit youth scholarships for the UWM Pride Discovery Camp, an overnight camp dedicated to equity, justice, identity acceptance and celebration that connects youth with leadership skills to navigate being their full selves.
Tickets are required for entry, with a $5 suggested donation made at the door to offset production costs. They are available for UWM students and campus community members through the UWM LGBT Resource Center on campus during business hours. The event is also open to the public, and tickets will be available for community members on Saturday at the Miller High Life Theatre lobby entrance beginning at 5:30 p.m.