Nkoli-Fassie’s Drag Show took place at Prime on Friday, 8 September. In what is hoped to be an annual event, both contestants and the audience were invited to caricature gender norms and rebel against the confines of gender binaries. Those who performed were free in their artistic expression and broke down some of the misconceptions that exist, including that drag is limited to males dressing up as females.
One such performer was Katherine Ceruti, who goes by the stage name, Jake Fettuccine. Her enthusiasm and level of commitment belied the fact that it was her first time in drag. Reality-type shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race and Buzzfeed’s episodes on drag kings interested her in playing with gender roles. “Drag queens are hyper-feminine and that never really appealed to me,” she explained.
Katherine described her overall experience of the show as fun. She mentioned that she felt a little overwhelmed, as she finds queer spaces a little more sexual than others considering how many queer bodies are more comfortable w
ith themselves. However, even though she was not used to the environment, it was still a great experience. “I thought all the performers were brilliant and the audience was wonderful,” she noted. “I was really nervous but everyone was supportive.”
While gender-bending focuses a lot on physiological changes, such as ‘tucking’ for men or ‘binding’ for womxn, the transformative power of drag goes far beyond the physical changes. Katherine explained the change as finding another aspect to herself. “Going from a womxn to a more masculine being is really shocking but also really cool,” she said. “Once I had put on the whole outfit, I was amazed. This other person that was me but who looked different was kind of a spiritual experience – it’s rediscovering a part of myself I would have never even looked for before.”
Events like this drag show are important because they raise awareness around issues of queerness through the celebration of it. “It is an opportunity for the queer community to come together, celebrate its queerness and rebel against the current gender norms,” said Joshua Kloppers of Nkoli-Fassie. Both the contestants and the audience enjoyed themselves immensely while engaging with an art form that dispels gender-binary ideologies. From a sizzling performance by ‘Mo the Ho’ to choosing the winner, there wasn’t a dull moment. A big ‘condragulations’ to Adam Butler who took first prize for a fierce performance, and to everyone who participated.
Words by Aaliyah Aboobaker