Ken Reisch, freshman mathematics major, lifted up a handful of skirts and bras for a hesitant Wal-Mart fitting room attendant as a line of shoppers waited behind him. After the clerk, a foreigner, called over another foreign clerk for her opinion, the two finally agreed to let Reisch try on the size 40B black bra, black button-up sweater and black knee-high socks that would transform him into Britney Spears.
“I will never understand how more experienced drag queens deal with this sort of embarrassment,” the soon-to-be drag queen said after the shopping trip with Community Advisor and senior graphic design major Laureen Biruk.
Reisch, in a size four red plaid skirt and with his bra stuffed with socks on March 22, was not overdressed when he arrived at the Award Show Drag Show sponsored by the Black Student Union (BSU), the office of Residence Life and the Gay Union of Trenton State at The College of New Jersey (GUTS). With women sporting baggy pants and men donning mini skirts and lipstick, the drag show brought laughter to a full audience in Forcina 134 and raised $304.16 for the Dooley House, a home for children with HIV/AIDS.
“The costume took only five to 10 minutes to put on, but when shaving your legs, which took a half an hour for me anyway, and putting on makeup, which is a long and tedious process, taking an hour to complete – I am now amazed by ladies that have the time to do this on a regular basis, it took me a total of almost two hours to get ready,” Reisch said.
Reisch mimicked Britney Spears’ dance moves and made up some of his own, including falling on top of Jenn Harris, who would later be named drag king, to the music of “Toxic.” He got the idea from Britney’s song, in which he remembered that she was a seductive agent who killed a man by simultaneously kissing and poisoning him.
“I dress in drag all the time,” the host read, before Harris, wearing a tie and Hot Topic hat, stepped on the stage for her act: a dance with a tiny green, blow-up electric guitar from a dollar store. “For those who know me, have you ever seen me dress like a girl?”
Nichole Bramletta and Kamaria Byrd played Usher and Lil Jon, or “Jack and Jill” who went up the hill.
“Jack pushed Jill down the hill,” host and GUTS president Noel Ramirez, sophomore communication studies and women and gender studies major, said when announcing the pair. “Now she wants Jack to hit the road.”
“Jack,” however, resisted and reached out for an angry “Jill,” dressed as a grandmother and threatening him with a rolled up newspaper, until Jill exited the stage dragging Jack behind her.
Other acts included dancing, lip syncing and suggestions of chemistry between the men and the women, after which the audience laughed and dropped cash into pastel-colored plastic pails with bunnies on them to support their favorite acts.
“Remember, we accept Benjamins, and if you guys have VISA cards … ” Ramirez said.
“If it were not for all of you, we would just be dancing on the stage and not hugging the babies,” Angel Hern?ndez, freshman psychology major, said in his thanks to the audience at the end of the show. He was wearing a pleated size five grey mini skirt from Wet Seal, which he purchased at Goodwill, and a black top cut just short enough to cover his tissue-stuffed bra.
Hern?ndez, GUTS AIDS Awareness Week chairperson and a contestant, had been in a drag show at Rider University, so he knew what worked and did not work to coordinate a successful event. Biruk said she was looking for something different, “something that the campus hasn’t been exposed to,” when she found out that GUTS was starting to put together the show. BSU was holding AIDS Awareness Week and GUTS agreed to help fundraise.
Freshman English major Kamarya Byrd, the BSU secretary who co-hosted the event, and Biruk both helped with the show’s coordination. Byrd, Biruk and Hern?ndez all expressed interest in holding the event again next year.
“It’s a good way to bring diversity to the community and help those in need,” Byrd said.
Freshman statistics major and one of Reisch’s floormates, Cait Sidrane, came to the show with a group of friends.
“I’m excited; it should be really funny,” she said before the show. “I don’t even think I could fit in some of those clothes.”