Naomi Smalls may not live up to her name, but she lives up to her fierce reputation.
In flats, the drag queen is 7 feet tall. Smalls was runner-up in season eight of the hit series "RuPaul's Drag Race," scoring points for her towering heels, strong lip synch, and high fashion persona. The in-demand drag queen is set to take the stage as the special guest performer at the Illinois State University Pride Charity Drag Show on Friday, March 23, in the Brown Ballroom on the Bone Student Center.
This is the 20th annual charity drag show, which is hosted by local drag queen Sharon ShareAlike.
"Naomi is very stylish and slender," said ShareAlike. "She has a real flair for costuming. She was raised looking at fashion all the time, so when she performs, you can tell that's the style that she has."
The annual ISU Pride Charity Drag Show is very prestigious, said ShareAlike. "It's the show that people want to be a part of, and we've had a lot of different performers over the years."
In addition to the well-known professional drag performers, the annual show also features up-and-coming student performers.
"A lot of times what happens is we'll have student performers that then go on to become professional performers. Then they get invited back to the ISU Pride show. So the show definitely raises drag queens and kings. Students are a big part of the show. It gives them an opportunity to perform in front of a large crowd, which a lot of times younger performers don't get that opportunity."
ShareAlike has been doing drag for about 20 years and noted that there is a good deal more diversity in drag these days.
"You see a lot of different types of performers, whereas before, most drag queens had a certain look, very glam and overdone. Now there's bearded queens, grunge queens and many more styles that I didn't see when I started. Drag needs to be an expression of whatever somebody thinks is drag. It just needs to be good drag, quality drag."
For the drag show neophyte, ShareAlike advises a sense of fun and a fistful of dollars.
"Come ready to have fun," she advised. "I like to play with people and have a good time. Drag queens love to get tipped, so bring your dollar bills and go up and tip the performers. Some people are afraid to go up there and think that they're interrupting the performance, but that's not the case at all. We love that interaction!"
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