Rainbow Alliance celebrates ‘all things queer’ with annual drag show


Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Stevie Dicks performs at Rainbow Alliance’s 20th annual “Panther Drag” show at the O’Hara Student Center on Saturday night.

By Kiera Ledermann, Senior Staff Writer

Despite a broken elevator, Pitt’s Rainbow Alliance managed to host a “grand finale” to its 2022 Pride Week, the annual spring “celebration of all things queer.”

As students arrived Saturday night at the O’Hara Student Center to watch the 20th annual “Panther Drag” show, they were met with a change of plans. One organizer from Rainbow Alliance announced the group was “not going to have a drag show unless it’s accessible to all,” as others carried chairs down from the second floor ballroom — the event’s original location — to the lobby. By the time the new performing area was set up, more than 120 students had gathered to see the show.

Drag is an art form in which an individual dresses in clothing and makeup to exaggerate a specific gender identity, and will often dance, lip-sync or put on some other type of creative performance.

Despite the abrupt location change, the performers managed to adapt and even incorporate the lobby’s staircase into their performances. The night’s lineup featured 11 lip-sync performances from four different drag queens and a drag king.

Stevie Dicks, a Pitt alumnus, clung to the hand railing and threw her head back as she lip-synced the words “everything is frustrating” during her performance of “Technicolour” by Montaigne. Reflecting on her performance, she said she “fell in love” with drag two years ago and has been performing ever since.

“It’s a rush of personal fulfillment while also audience fulfillment,” Stevie Dicks said. “I do every show I can get in just because I love that feeling.”

Although she didn’t start performing drag until after graduating from Pitt, Stevie Dicks said when she was given the opportunity to “give back” to current students, she responded, “I’m there, no questions.”

Later in the evening, Stevie performed Lady Gaga’s “911” in a Gaga-esque plaid red dress, whose bottom half was removed to reveal a leotard. Using a red-corded telephone she wore as a belt, she pretended to make a frantic phone call.

Another performer, Korra D. Earth, laid on the stairs and drank from a bottle of water during her performance of “React” by The Pussycat Dolls. Korra, a current Pitt student, began the performance wearing a blue coat dress with a green splatter-paint design, which she dramatically tore off mid-performance to reveal an all-black outfit.

Despite the audience’s wild applause to her dancing, the Saturday show was Korra’s debut performance as a drag queen. After the show, Korra said she was thankful for the opportunity.

“I’ve been wanting to do drag for a very, very long time. I just figured this was my opportunity and I took it,” Korra said. “I actually only had about two weeks to start — like to learn makeup, get costumes together and all that kind of stuff.”

Korra, who also did a rendition of “GUY.exe” by Superfruit, said she believes drag is something that’s “open to everyone.”

“It’s something that everyone can enjoy and have fun with,” Korra said. “Really at the end of the day, it’s just fun. Do what you want and have fun. Enjoy your life. Life’s short.”

She and Jack Diamond, the night’s only drag king, performed a lip sync battle together to Cover Girl’s “New Kids on the Block.” Jack Diamond, a Pitt student, popped the collar of his rhinestone-studded jacket while Korra did elaborate footwork.

For an individual performance of “Me Too” by Meghan Trainor, Jack wore a colorful sequined jacket. Throwing off his sunglasses and pointing to the audience, he lip-synced to the lyrics, “If I was you, I’d wanna be me too.” The audience cheered as he spun, strutted and made the sign of the cross.

Envy Sinn, a local Pittsburgh queen, performed to “Break My Heart” by Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga’s “Babylon.” Each twirl and toss of her long blonde wig elicited applause and tips from the audience — which she collected and threw above her head.

Thicci Nikki, another Pitt student queen, performed to “It’s Raining Men” in a blue and yellow bodysuit with a fiery orange wig. The audience exploded and shoved money towards Thicci Nikki as she executed a “death drop” — a staple drag move where a performer dramatically falls to the ground.

To conclude the show, the performers joined together in a final lip-sync battle to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” Students lingered in the lobby after the show to chat and take pictures with the performers. Noah Baker, a first year who attended the show with his friends, described the show as “phenomenal.”

“It was the best way to spend our Saturday,” Baker said. “It exceeded my expectations completely.”

Proceeds from the show, collected as tips to the performers, were donated to SisTers PGH, a Black and trans-led nonprofit dedicated to supporting transgender, people of color and impoverished individuals in southwestern Pennsylvania.

According to Jessica Ravenscroft, a senior biology major and the Rainbow Alliance president, the group chose to donate to SisTers because of who the group serves.

“Trans BIPOC is a group in our community that is often overlooked and underserved, so we wanted to donate money to a local charity that provides services to this marginalized group,” Ravenscroft said.

Rainbow Alliance collected $352 by the end of the night, according to Ravenscroft. With additional donations collected throughout other Pride week events, the group was able to donate $434 in all to SisTers PGH.