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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

What’s all the ‘Hocus Pocus’ about GSA’s drag show dinner?

Jack Spiegel
Students take photos with the Sanderson Sisters after their drag performance of ‘Summer Orlando Presents: Hocus Pocus Live!!!’

Winifred, Sarah and Mary Sanderson from the popular Disney Halloween movie “Hocus Pocus” came to life on the night of Nov. 4 at the Gender and Sexuality Alliance’s annual dinner drag show.

The Sanderson sisters came into the Carl Hansen Student Center Piazza and made the stage their own. Their wicked laughter and the spooky music could bring anyone right back into the Halloween mood.

But these childhood favorites were a little different from the movie. Though their costumes, hair and makeup created an uncanny resemblance to the sisters, their actions were a different story. With Winifred twerking, Sarah tap dancing and Mary taking candy from the audience – though this is something that she might’ve done in the movie – this was not the Sanderson sisters most people are used to.

The queens are part of “Summer Orlando Presents: Hocus Pocus Live!!!” The production is led by Orlando, a Connecticut-based drag queen and the face of Winifred.

“We’ve had bigger queens in the past, queens who have been on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I think it’s great that they have a bigger name, because they bring in a bigger crowd,” said GSA Co-President Gabrielle Inacio, a junior behavioral neuroscience major. “But personally, I love the local queens that we’ve had. I think their shows are so fun, so engaging.”

The witchy group performs at theaters, bars and other colleges during the Halloween season, which was something that the GSA was interested in.

“We really wanted to hone in on a theme, so I think it makes it easier for planning and figuring out decorations and making it a cohesive event, “ Inacio said. “We thought that was really exciting, it’d be a really fun ‘Hocus Pocus’ Halloween theme.”

When students walked into the piazza Saturday, they were able to get dinner, which included macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, salad, sodas and more, catered by Eli’s on Whitney.

Along with the free food, GSA also had a table set up at the event where it offered free pride flags for all different identities in the community, colorful stickers and pins with pronouns on them.

This is not the only drag show the GSA holds during the school year. Typically, the club hosts a drag show dinner during the fall semester, and then drag show bingo during the spring semester.

“As far as I know, drag shows have been a yearly tradition for a long time,” Inacio said. “I’m not sure the year that it exactly started, but I know that we’ve had plenty of them a long time since before I was a student here.”

For this drag show, the audience was encouraged to come in their Halloween costumes because of the show’s theme. Students dressed up as fairies, animals and even Taylor Swift.

The queens sang a variety of songs — like “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga and “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked — but added their own twist to the songs to make it more related to Hocus Pocus. Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back” was no more, it was now “The Witch Is Back” (Winifred’s Version).

The sisters also encouraged the audience to get involved in the show. Students clapped and danced along to songs like “Time Warp” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the queens even came up to people in the crowd ready with jokes and playful banter.

“Their level of interaction with the audience, you can definitely tell that they’re all super talented and can really work off of the group they’re with,” said Madison Henn, a first-year journalism major, who attended the event. “Even when (their) computer wasn’t working for a second and they had to cue a new song, they were just playing off the audience and cracking jokes.”

During parts of the show, the sisters borrowed the pride flags from audience members and waved them in the air, with people in the audience following their lead.

“When everyone held their flags up and waved them around, I just thought it was super nice,” said first-year English major Haleigh Newton. “(It was) like a community experience where you just felt completely accepted for who you are.”

Drag performers are no strangers to backlash in the government. Over the past few years, states like Texas, Florida and Tennessee have all proposed drag show bans. A judge in Texas threw out a bill in September that would have banned drag shows, as the bill stated that “male and female impersonators” would not be allowed to perform in public.

However, drag shows have been a way for people in the LGBTQ+ community to express themselves through an art form. Drag is often considered a symbol of liberation and rebellion in the community, because drag queens were the ones at the forefront of many important events in LGBTQ+ history. This includes the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which sparked the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement

“I think (drag shows) are really important because it brings people together,” said Lindsey Franco, a first-year undecided major in the School of Communications. “It shows that (people are) valued and seen in the community. It creates a space where people can meet each other and have fun. It’s just a really positive environment.”

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Carleigh Beck
Carleigh Beck, Associate News Editor

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