Fierce competition at DCU Drag Race

Gabija Gataveckaite

DCU’s annual drag race hosted by the LGBTA society this year was yet another sparkly, glitzy and fierce affair.

Being known in Dublin as the starting point for many of the queens who go on to work in queer and cabaret bars, this show sees the freshest talent compete for the crown.

Damoiseau, a drag king from France, took home the crown in The Button Factory after judges swooned over performances of Billie Jean and a contemporary ballet routine.

The performer attributed their biggest influence to be Dandy-like drag, referencing men of late 19th century Britain who took extreme care of their appearance.

Seven queens battle it out through a series of rounds on the night, with a panel of four judges then deciding on the top two.

Queens Nara Hope, Kara Kalua, Mommy Complex, Sapphire Sweet, Damoiseau, Kaya Duchanne and Crystal Knight took part in four rounds: a neon runway, talent showcase and a lip sync performance.

Judges Paul Ryder, Pixie Woo, Maura Darragh and Phil T Gorgeous gave their feedback to contestants throughout the night.

Mommy Complex, a bio-queen, meaning a female drag performer, and Damoiseau, received the coveted top two positions.

The queens then battled it out in a lip sync performance, like contestants do on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Damoiseau was crowned.

The show was hosted by Veda, who is a legendary queen with fiery red locks on Dublin’s drag scene.

Organised by DCU’s LGBTA society, this is the fifth time the society has hosted the race, which evolved from a drag event in 2013.

The society’s chair, Dean O’Reilly, explained how happy he was with how the turnout.

“I was thrilled with how the event went, I couldn’t have asked for it to go better. We sold more tickets than ever, we raised more money than ever, there were no venue cancellations or postponements like last year…everything was great. Couldn’t pick a better event to end my tenure on.

Each year, the race is hosted in aid of an LGBT+ charity. This year, over €3,000 was raised for the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).

“TENI is the only major organisation in Ireland advocating for trans people across the country,” O’Reilly said.

“Where trans rights are now are some 10-20 years behind LGB rights. Trans people cannot access healthcare, they fear being out in public, the trans community today is as underground as the gay community was in the 1980s,” he added.

Drag is a performance art, which sees both men and women dress up in clothing which is not typically associated with their assigned gender.

It has been popularised in recent years thanks to RuPaul’s Drag Race, an American television show which sees queens perform in a series of challenges, similar to an X-Factor style format where a queen is eliminated each week by the judges.

The increase in popularity of drag has not only been felt overseas, but in Ireland too and this was visible in the numbers that applied to compete.

“We pick seven people to compete each year and we were amazed to have 13 applicants, so almost half of people who applied did not get a spot. However, this doesn’t mean their drag isn’t good – it just wasn’t their time,” O’Reilly concluded.

Gabija Gataveckaite

Image Credit: Sonja Tutty