My First Drag Pageant

This past weekend I had the pleasure of competing in Basement Arts’ first-ever drag pageant (in recent years), Lady Walgreen 2022. As someone who considers themselves a “look queen” and a bedroom queen (ie, someone who focuses on my makeup and looks and generally creates my drag in my bedroom without showing it to many other people or going out in it), this was actually my first time going out and performing in drag. And it was the best experience I could’ve ever asked for. Quite literally, I’ve never seen an audience as packed or as excited as I did in the Newman Studio last Saturday night.

The pageant had three parts: fashion, interview, and talent. For fashion, we got scored by a panel of judges (aka other students who are drag aficionados or style icons). As a look queen known for outlandish makeup, this was the category I was focused the most on. My look was a demon-like creature who had all my skin removed from my face and sections of my body, a ribcage peeking out on my chest, and muscles exposed all across my face and body. This has been some of the most extravagant and ambitious makeup I have ever done, and I couldn’t be prouder of what I ended up creating. 


The makeup was all done by me, mainly using eyeliners, face paint, and a ton of powder and patience. The ribcage is made out of cardboard I stole from a housemate and covered in duct tape, and the hair is similarly held up by a cardboard frame for the horns. The skirt is a long, ugly thrifted skirt I found, cut up, and stained with fake blood just hours before. Who said you can’t create stunning drag on a budget?

A lot of my drag is freaky, alien, and just a tad bit insane, and this look was no different. And the audience loved it, from the cheering I got the moment I stepped out. Not to brag, but I was the only queen to get a perfect score of tens across the board for my look, which honestly was the biggest win in my book. Listen, I’m a look queen through and through and to be validated on my effort in my looks is the most amazing thing for me.

Next came the interview, which might have been the most chaotic part of the night. I’d like to first apologize to the couch, which has incurred a large red mark from when I decided to man-spread across it during my interview. Rip to that couch (and the one section of my body I didn’t set with powder well enough).

The final part was the talent portion, which included performances of incredible dance numbers, live singing, a spoken-word version of “I’m Sexy And I Know It”, and for me, a pair of rollerblades and licking blood off the floor of the Newman. I may not be the best dancer, but I did create a memorable performance of falling flat on my face, spilling blood all across the floor, and then getting up to lick all the blood off my fingers and garner the most wonderfully disgusting responses from the audience as Kim Petras played. Honestly, what more could I ask for of my first live performance?

While I didn’t make top two (congrats to ElleXL, our Lady Walgreen winner, and Tampa, the runner-up), I don’t think I’ve ever cheered louder during a lip-sync than I did for those two going CRAZY to “I Will Survive”. Seriously, you’ve never seen a performance like theirs. Plus, who cares about winning? I not only got to show off my art to a huge audience of my friends and classmates, I also made some of the most wonderful friends. There’s truly something so joyful about a room of queer folks all half in drag, taking shots and helping each other out. When I couldn’t find my eyelash glue, Tampa offered me hers. I did Mrs. Worldwide’s makeup since it was her first time in drag, and Olympia offered me hairspray to keep my wig down. There could not have been a more different group of performers up there on that stage, but each and every one was incredible and it was such an incredible honor to see them all perform. Shout out to the UMich drag scene and shout out to everyone who came out to the Newman last weekend! And to Basement Arts for hosting!

Pinball McQueen

Pinball McQueen is a drag artist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They describe themselves as a colorful, chaotic drag nuisance and what happens when you straddle the line of clown, horror demon, and a former theatre kid. They use their drag as an art of personal expression and as a way to talk about queerness as it relates to pop culture, history, classic art, literature, and many other things.

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