by Elizabeth Colombini
Purchase College’s Fall Ball, one of the biggest drag events in the Lower Hudson Valley, has gained recognition beyond campus over the years, in part because of famous artists who have been hired to perform. This year, however, the focus will shift from the famous to the obscure.
According to Jonathan Murdock, the president of the LGBTQU club, the ball will move away from being strongly correlated with what he calls “mainstream drag” and will focus instead on the lives of more unconventional performers, including Purchase alumni and NYC circuit-runners.
In the past the ball, which is admission free, has hired former contestants of the television show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to perform. Appearances by these drag queens comes with a price tag of anywhere from $100 to upward of $1,500. Past performers have included Yara Sofia and Milk.
“We’re not doing that this year,” said Murdock, “to focus on the value of drag to the LGBT community and not as entertainment for outsiders.”
How will this affect overall attendance for the ball this year?
“I think a lot of the draw for the event comes from having old ‘RuPaul’ girls perform,” said Renton Tener, a Gender Studies major. “So it could potentially affect the turnout.” Tener added that while it is important to give less-known local performers a platform, the decision could have negative consequences.
“Someone said to me last week that they really wanted to stray away from mainstream drag,” said Juan Pomales-Vazquez, a senior sociology major who attended the ball last year. “What does that even mean? People love it and it doesn’t take away from the other performers or what they do. I think it’s a bad idea, but it is what it is.”
Others, however, applaud the switch. When asked about the lack of famous performers this year, Kris Solis, a junior Painting & Drawing major, said that the ball should focus on artists from SUNY Purchase. “Performers are really expensive and, while they are popular, the point is on-campus performers,” Solis said. “So we don’t really need” outsiders.
This year’s event, which will have a punk theme, will be cohosted by QPOC, (Queer People of Color), a new organization at Purchase. The ball will include a pageant, a vogue (dance) competition and drag review. There will also be a coronation of a Ms./Mr./Mx. Congeniality, based on an audience vote.
Fall Ball will be held on Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. at the Stood.