“As a member of the LGBT community involved in drag, I feel we represent a way of challenging society’s norms of sexuality and gender roles,” states Fitchburg State student Patrick Williamson.
Those norms will be challenged tonight at 7pm, at Fitchburg State University’s ninth annual drag show, themed “Devious Divas of Disney” sponsored by SGA at the Rec Center.
Williamson, also known to the drag community as Ms. Karriage or Ms. K, will be one of the queens gracing the stage tonight.
Around school, Williamson can be seen hanging out with his friends and attending classes to pursue a business degree. When the moment is right, he can be seen as Ms. Karriage, an alternative drag queen with a white face, false eyelashes, overdone dark lips, and an even darker wig. However, no outfit would be complete without a corset, six layers of nude pantyhose, stilettos and four hours of preparation.
While Ms. Karriage’s look may stray toward a gothic appearance, other drag queens prefer a comedic or even pageant-like look. “Drag is the art of female illusion,” Williamson says, “Drag is becoming another person. Drag queens are artists, comedians, political activists, and entertainers all wrapped up into one. In regards to my character [Ms. K], she’s more confident, outgoing, and crass. It is about being someone other than you.”
Williamson has been doing drag off and on since 2011. As an openly homosexual male, he reveals that his hiatus was due to the men he had been seeing disapproved of drag. But Williamson says that he found support through friends. He laughs fondly while remembering a trip to Campus Pizza with friends while he was fully clothed in his drag attire. He laughs more when he recalls random people following him around the streets of campus.
Williamson smiles when he thinks of the people who have stopped him at events and told him, “oh my gosh, you look gorgeous!”
It was a slow and steady process of becoming Ms. Karriage. Williamson began his drag persona by trying on wigs and heels with friends in the comfort of dorm rooms and houses before realizing the tremendous impact it would have on him as a person. He was excited to share the name of the drag queen that has been his inspiration since 2012.
Sharon Needles, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season four victor, is an award-winning drag queen performer as well as a recording artist. Williamson also speaks highly of Paris Holiday, his drag mother (a well-established drag queen that helps a young drag queen learn the ways of drag). As Ms. Karriage, Williamson has performed at the Mirabar in Rhode Island, and admits that he likes to make appearances at various places and interact with fans in that way.
Williamson states that there is also negative feedback that comes with drag. As a drag queen, there is an immense amount of scrutiny and it challenges people’s expectations of what is considered “normal.”
“If someone is gawking at me, I will make them laugh!” Williamson says, “Their minds are transformed when you can make someone who doesn’t quite understand, laugh. Drag is an art form. It is comical, in a way, and it is an outlet for expression. I think people forget that up until the 1970s cross-dressing was illegal. It wasn’t until after the Stonewall riots (a series of violent demonstrations led by members of the gay community) that homosexuals were allowed to openly express themselves. There is a deeper meaning behind what we do.”
Regarding the drag show, Williamson says, “If people want to go, it is a charity event. All proceeds will benefit the Born This Way foundation. If people are thinking, ‘eh, $5 for a ticket, that’s a bit much,’ remember that it goes to a great cause.”
This will be Ms. Karriage’s first appearance at the FSU drag show. The show is advertised around campus with flyers that include details about tonight’s event. Williams hopes the audience will be amazed at the “sickening” (a drag term for fabulous) performances of these vivacious drag queens.