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  • Kaitlyn Engen

'Drag queens sparkle and shine at 20th annual drag show'

This article was originally published in the Easterner on February 28, 2018. The original link can be found HERE

By Kaitlyn Engen, Reporter February 28, 2018 Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Carousel

Words cannot capture the sparkle and shine that the Queens of the 2018 “Sugar and Spice” EWU drag show presented both onstage and off.

The 20th annual drag show at EWU was organized by Eagle Entertainment, along with support from Eagle Sound Productions and SAIL. Drag Queens La Saveona Hunt and Freedom Rights, the two hosts for the event, filled the room with spunk, laughter and excitement as other Queens danced their way into raising money for the Odyssey Youth Movement, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing security and support programs to LGBTQ+ youth in the Spokane community.

There was a lot to see during the three-hour show. However, many audience members would leave that evening never getting to know the real people behind the makeup.

Freedom Rights’ drag career began 12 years ago when her sister shaved off half her facial hair while she was sleeping and forced her to enter the Drag Russian Roulette, which Freedom won.

“Back then I was known for falling off of poles, high energy and just smiling a lot,” said Freedom Rights.

Before the show last Friday, Freedom Rights showed much anticipation coming back to EWU after a year-long break from performing.​​

“My very first real performance was at Eastern,” said Freedom Rights. “No matter where I’m at in life, I always try to come back. I will always love to come back. [EWU] is the first place I really felt loved, and the energy is what made me stay.”

La Saveona Hunt has been doing drag for nine years now and was also looking forward to performing at EWU.

“Coming to college shows you get all different walks of life: people who have never seen drag, people who have seen drag, people who don’t know what it is,” said La Saveona Hunt. “They don’t know what they’re gonna get. Seeing people’s reactions for the first time seeing us is hilarious.”

Uncertainty for what the show would bring was common for a lot of first-time drag show attendees in the audience. It is safe to assume that many entered through the doors with preconceived notions of what drag is all about and what being a drag queen even means.

The two hosts plus Arianna D. Spanic, a trans woman drag performer who brought a girly Ariana Grande spirit to the stage, hoped to clear up a few misconceptions about drag queens.

“We are not cross-dressers. We are performers and entertainers,” said Arianna D. Spanic, “We are very professional, and we’re actually the most friendly people you will ever meet.”

Freedom Rights wanted to address the gender-identity confusion that the audience might experience at a drag show.

“The biggest misconception is just because we are drag queens means we [all] identify as transgender, misconstrued that we live our lives as women,” said Freedom Rights, “I do not identify as being transgender. I’m just a man in a dress and a wig!”

La Saveona Hunt likes to emphasize to her audiences what drag queens are and what they come to perform for.

“I tell people that drag queens are three things,” said La Saveona Hunt, “One, we’re overpaid strippers. Tip us! Two, we are your therapist. Just as we use the audience as therapy, the audience should use us as therapy. Three, we are clowns. Laugh at us!”

Freedom Rights and La Saveona Hunt’s extended careers have allowed them to see all sides of drag: The Queens, the audience, the supporters and the haters.

“Being a drag queen is a triple threat,” said La Saveona Hunt. “You’re putting yourself out there to be judged and ridiculed and disrespected. I’ve never met a queen who has never been told that they’re not pretty or they’re not talented. There’s always something negative that comes your way when you do drag.”

As they both have realized, though, learning to brush off negativity can be just as important for a drag queen as the performance itself.

“Not only do you have to check the energy that you have to give out to the world, but you also have to check other people’s energy […] If you allow negativity to consume you, and yourself to be around negative people, [it] will rub off on you and it will take your positive energy from you,” Freedom Rights said.

The three Queens, who all currently hold royalty crowns, are actively taking their positive energies to their communities. La Saveona Hunt, aka Miss Utopia, reigns with “a legacy of love and acceptance,” advocating not only for LGBTQ+ rights but also rights of African-Americans, homeless youth and HIV/AIDS survivors.

Along with fundraising for the Spokane AIDS Network and Odyssey Youth Center, Miss Nubian Pride winner Freedom Rights is very passionate about working with the transgender community in Spokane.

Spanic also represents the transgender community in her title as Miss Gay Pride. She works with the Imperial Sovereign Court of Spokane to raise awareness and funds towards LGBTQ+ issues.

While they all serve as active celebrities in the LGBTQ+ community, their identities as drag queens might go unnoticed by some given the nature of their “typical” daily lives.

Freedom Rights is one example. She spends most of her daytime hours working at nYne Bar and Bistro, the Spokane Airport and MAC Cosmetics.

La Saveona Hunt, on the other hand, works as a coach for high school track-and-field and volleyball and keeps her drag queen identity more discrete.

“I lead two lives and it’s not because I’m ashamed of it,” said La Saveona Hunt. “I just think some kids can handle it and some kids can’t. Some parents also can and can’t [handle it.]”

Whether known or not by their audiences, the Queens brought their best faces and performances to the EWU URC last Friday night.

“You should only be worried about having a good time. When you walk away, it’s like a movie that you just watched and can’t get out of your head,” said Saveona Hunt.

Correction: The original story published in the print edition of Issue 18 incorrectly stated that the EWU Pride Center was the organizer of EWU’s Annual Drag Show. The event was organized by Eagle Entertainment, along with support from Eagle Sound Productions and SAIL.

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