[hershae] Hershae Chocolaté burst onto the stage like an orange laser light show in the middle of Sunday mass. She had shaggy blonde hair, legs that stretched for miles, patent leather stilettos and an attitude that would make Simon Cowell weep like a little girl. Amidst exclamations like, “Ooo, my ass is hanging out!” and “I just love straight people!” Chocolaté emceed the most fabulous day of spring semester: The Cabaret Neuvo Drag show.
The show razed Friday to the ground at the International Center, and kicked off a full seven days devoted to the celebration of MSU’s lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender, or LBGT, community. The first of Pride Week’s festivities was co-sponsored by the University Activities Board and the LBGT caucus of North Complex, Respecting Individuals on Neutral Ground (RING). Other Pride Week events included guest speakers, a dance party-mixer and LBGT-conscious film screenings.
Lauren Patterson, the representative from UAB in charge of the performance, said partnering with the LBGT community to put on events such as the Cabaret Neuvo helps raise awareness on campus. “Both drag queens and kings perform,” Patterson said. Everyone was given equal ground, she added.
[johnny] And indeed they were. When The Johnny Handcocks, a group of kings dressed like the envy of any Justin Timberlake, hit the stage, the crowd made the riots of March Madness look like a game of patty cake.
“The crowd turnout was amazing,” Nikkie Chavarria, communications junior and member of the group, said. Chavarria said her favorite part of performing with The Johnny Handcocks in front of an audience was the ability to assume a different identity while conveying important messages about the fluidity of gender.
“[A drag show] is a place for everyone to celebrate diversity while having fun,” she said. Meggin Welling, Lauron Kehrer, Kelly McSorley, Jessica Shamberger and Melissa Horste are also members of the drag king troupe.
[split] Entertainment was evident from even outside the International Center. Screaming and applause filled the entire space with high energy and promoted an aura of acceptance. Crowd participation was key to the success of the show. Many sang along to the pop standards of the drag routines, and the adventurous waved dollar bills at the endowments of certain queens and kings.
The fireworks continued with a range of acts that incorporated acrobatic queens in “hooker shoes,” and an androgynous rendition of Marilyn Manson’s “Dope Show.” The crowd had a hard time reconciling the unabashed camp of lip-syncing with Manson’s goth-tastic lyrics, but quickly recovered with a rabblerousing queen’s take on Britney Spears.
For many, the highlight of the night befell as Chocolaté, with uncanny precision, sought out the butchest of straight men in attendance and compelled them into their first exploration of queendom. Veterans went to work making over and polishing these troopers to the great pleasure of the crowd.
And who, excluding the most stuffy and cantankerous members of the GOP, doesn’t like witnessing public humiliation at the hands of drag queens? The answer revealed itself through rowdy applause.
The whole five hours was a free-for-all of gender fluctuation and liberation, and served as a great ribbon cutting for Pride Week 2005. Although after Friday night, the sequins and fringe were tucked away until next year, hopefully the message of acceptance and diversity will stay strong.

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