It’s not every day you see Scrappy adorned with a rainbow tutu and green glitter eyelashes. But on a night with flying wigs, death drops and nails left on the stage, it was a fitting sight.
Mx. Kerr Hall 2020 was a two-hour drag performance and live competition hosted inside the Lyceum on Feb. 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. Five drag performers worked the stage and competed for the title of Mx Kerr Hall. The event featured performances from last year’s winner Blue Valentine and the 2018 champion Eva Star.
The event, which was titled Ms. Kerr Hall in previous years, was passed down to Cody Norton, a drawing and painting senior and RA at Kerr, after the event’s creator, Dylan Asher, graduated. Norton and fellow RA Liz Callen started assembling the event in August and gave it the theme “pretty in pink.” Norton, who was seen sporting pink glitter shoes and earrings to match, dedicated time to coordinating everything in the Lyceum, creating music playlists and crafting the trophy.
“It’s been very different, mainly because when it was passed to me I wasn’t told what to do,” Norton said of the planning process. “So all of this is [from scratch], too. We did this all by ourselves, basically, we really haven’t had any help with it.”
Callen said while the planning process has been stressful at times, the event ended up coming together better than expected. She’s excited the event gives UNT students a place to feel safe and accepted, including her younger cousin who recently came out as bisexual and was in the audience.
“To know that the people that are supporting where you live [in the residence halls], also support you to be whoever you are… I think it’s very comforting,” Callen said.
Mx. Kerr Hall was hosted by Trisha Delish, who won Best Denton Drag Queen 2019 and season 1 of The Queer Off, a live competition in Dallas. Delish opened the show with a campy burlesque-style performance before taking over as host. She was excited to host, she said, because her theater background makes her interested in production-style events. Delish, who brought “lots of dad jokes” to the show, said hosts set the tone for the show and can make or break the event.
“It’s definitely a much bigger crowd, which [means] that you have to bring such a different type of energy,” Delish said.
Speech-language pathology junior Moriah Rogers is an RA at Clark Hall and came to the show to see both the performances and her residents. Rogers, who also attended the event her freshman year, said several of her residents attended the show in their drag attire. Having an event like this on campus, she said, is important in creating a more inclusive community atmosphere.
“It really speaks volumes to the diversity and inclusivity of UNT as a whole, creating a safe space for people to have fun and do what they love,” Rogers said.
The night featured performers embodying a wide range of drag styles, from the comedic queen who uses “unconventional items to put on a show” Fracasa Titicaca, to the goth male impersonator Rys Withoutaspoon. San Antonio-based Juana Velez brought Latin flavor to Mx. Kerr Hall, and the fashion major incorporates a 60s aesthetic into her Mexican and Cuban showgirl style.
“Usually, a lot of people who do Spanish songs are more contemporary, and do stuff like Shakira, J-Lo, Selena,” Velez said. “I do more vintage things so I think [it] will be really interesting for the audience to see something different that they may have not heard of before.”
After the runway portion and seven individual performances, the top four were grouped into two lip sync battles. Audience members voted on the winners of each battle via Twitter poll, and the winners faced off in the final lip sync challenge. Performers Claire Voyant and Shasta Montana secured the top two spots.
Claire Voyant, who started drag in her bedroom at 15 and began performing last summer, is inspired by the aesthetic of early 2000s movies like “Mean Girls.” She said events like Mx. Kerr Hall are important because many young people want to see drag, but do not know where to go.
“I think that more youth spaces need to provide more of a queer space,” Voyant said.
Shasta Montana started drag at a UPC show last year and wants to continue drag after college. Montana described her style as “a crossroads of Kim Petras and Mary Poppins.”
“I love to bring glamour,” Montana said. “I love to bring high energy, and just overall a good time so I’m excited to instill that in the people that are watching tonight.”
High energy is what the audience got — by the end of the lip sync battle, after Montana snatched two different wigs off to reveal another wig underneath, the sound of cheers was deafening and several audience members were on their feet. After another round of Twitter voting, Montana was crowned (or sashed) Mx. Kerr Hall.
The night was more than a win for Montana, but for UNT’s LGBTQ community at large. Callen said providing students with a space where they can dress up and be themselves, especially for her cousin, was a rewarding experience.
“For her to have this type of community as well and to see like how positive and fun and accepting it can be makes me very happy,” Callen said.
Featured Image: Shasta Montana performs during a lip-sync battle at Mx. Kerr Hall on Feb. 18, 2020. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia