The IU Late Nite program, in partnership with local drag performers, will present the fifth annual “Life’s a Drag Race” competition at 9 p.m. Feb. 11 at Alumni Hall in the Indiana Memorial Union. The event is free and those planning to attend should RSVP.
The event will feature eight entertainers from Bloomington and other cities in Indiana. Each of them will put on two individual performances. A pop song will be selected from a wheel of options during the event for entertainers to sing in a group lip sync battle. Then the guest judges, Indiana drag queens Empress Renee Broadway Redline and Ida Kay, will crown a winner.
IU senior Katie Quinn, the program manager for Late Nite, said that Late Nite tries to provide students with fun opportunities to get them out of their dorms, meet new people and get to know the campus. She said she’s excited for students to see what’s prepared for the evening.
“A lot of people don’t know about drag shows in the area to begin with, so it’s just awesome that we’re able to partner with this group and see these queens perform,” Quinn said. “We put on quite the show, it’s just all in all a fantastic night.”
Local musician DJ MADDØG, IU alumna Madison True, will provide music for the evening. True said she’s worked with Late Nite in the past, and she loves the opportunity to see new, raw talent during the show.
As a female DJ, True said she appreciates the openness that queer performance spaces have shown her. True often works at Bloomington’s LGBTQ-friendly bar, The Back Door.
“That's who accepted me with open arms, took me seriously and allowed me to cultivate my art form,” True said.
Drag performer Gaia Ciccone, an IU alumna, will act as host for the evening. Ciccone has worked with IU for the last five years to organize and lead Drag Nite. Ciccone said she enjoys taking care of all of the details involved with putting the show together.
“It's a well-oiled machine,” Ciccone said. “That way, from the audience’s perspective, it is just as perfect and polished as it can possibly be.”
Ciccone said that IU’s “Life’s a Drag Race” is unique in that, while most queer performance spaces are housed in bars, Late Nite is open to anyone.
“This is a really fun, safe place to experience what that art is like,” Ciccone said.
This year’s cast will make the performance particularly special, Ciccone said. She said the interactions between the student audience and the cast creates an environment that isn’t always common in queer performance.
“All the queens are very open to chatting,” Ciccone said. “If you have questions or you're interested in this, but you don't know where to start, this cast and this group of judges are more than willing to talk to you.”
Ciccone said she appreciates working with Late Nite because IU students provide a unique energy during the performance that isn’t there for smaller shows. She said the room is usually completely full, but she expects to cap this year’s audience at around 200 people due to COVID-19 precautions.
“I love coming out, sometimes behind the curtain, and just going ‘Are you ready, Bloomington?’” Ciccone said. “And the room just roars. You don’t get that very often. It sends shivers down my spine.”