Fifth annual Mirage event highlights drag racing and sheds positive light on LGBTQ+ community
Iowa City, IOWA: In a room full of colorful wigs, high heels, sequenced jumpsuits and dresses sits twenty-three-year-old King Edqux Robinson. Although the scene may appear as a young man playing in his mother’s closet, this is not the case. King, who recently began performing as a drag queen, is very proud of his growing collection.
Queen Fantasia Wood is the name of the up and coming drag queen, and has a wide variety of unique pieces from various thrift stores, and professional queens. “Queens are always trying to get rid of things so that they can buy new things,” Robinson said. After about an hour of “painting the face”, applying the wig of choice and putting on a pair of heels, King Edqux Robinson is transformed into Queen Fantasia Wood.
For a look into Robinson’s life as a performer, click below.
Queen Fantasia Wood, along with many other drag kings and queens shared their talents at the fifth annual Mirage on Friday, December 2 at the Iowa Memorial Union. This event, which featured a drag show, a small student organization fair and multiple games promoting sexual health, helped to fill the entirety of the Second Floor Ballroom.
Students were given access to free HIV testing, which was provided by Student Health and Wellness. There was also a condom casino and games that educated attendees about safe sex and World Aids Day, which falls on December 1.
Trisha Welter, a Senior Behavioral Health Consultant at Student Health and Wellness, has been the main coordinator of the event since the first annual Mirage. The event is a positive and unique because it encompasses educational aspects of diversity and inclusion, along with sexual health and safe sex practices, Welter said.
Kristen Tajnai, a volunteer for the event and Health Education student at the university, feels that there should be more events like the Mirage on campus. “It is important that everyone feels important, has a safe place to express themselves,” Tajnai said.
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Robinson experienced this feeling first hand during a recent performance. “You could feel the [negative] energy in the room,” Robinson said. Many of the performers including Robinson shared “uplifting” pieces with the hope of providing encouragement to those affected.
“That is what I live for as a performer,” Robinson said. “If I can give someone hope for something and help them to take their minds off of something negative, then I have done my job as a performer.”
The Main Event
Following the social activities, attendees gathered around the stage for the start the drag show. The first portion of the show featured amateur performers, and included many students from the university. The kings and queens were given a chance to compete for prizes, and also shared their talent with their peers.
The event took place right before the start of finals for the University of Iowa. Andre Scales, a senior at the university and first-time attendee of the Mirage, came to the event because he was studying on the third floor of the IMU. “I have always wanted to come and see what [the Mirage] is all about, Scales said. He also shared how the art of drag racing can give individuals a creative outlet. “I believe that it gives people confidence…Those who are usually misunderstood are able to connect with those like them,” Scales said. “It’s also important to raise awareness about safe sex and consent.”
Many of the amateur drag performers shared their talents for the first time with their peers. Hannah “Noah” Thomsen, a sophomore at the university, performed a song with fellow members of the Gamma Rho Lambda National Sorority as a drag king. Thomsen said that she has never felt connected to any gender in particular, and how performing helps to share her outlook on the binary gender classifications. “Going all out with one label and doing whatever you want with it while being simultaneously unaccepted is a strange and freeing feeling,” Thomsen said.
The second portion of the drag show featured the popular drag kings and queens from Iowa City, who regularly perform at Studio 13, a nightclub known for the regularly occurring drag shows. These men and women have been professionally performing from a range of a few years to almost ten.
The IC Kings, a group of drag kings who originated in Iowa City, shared a few pieces with the crowd. Amanda Green, who goes by “Hugh Jindapants”, helped to found the group when there were not many drag kings in the area.
Green said that performing has been therapeutic for her. A difficult divorce left Green feeling lost, and she “didn’t know who she was outside of that marriage”. The idea of performing drag came to her through a friend. She has now become successful with the IC Kings. “It is so cool being able to get paid to do what I love,” Green said. The art of drag racing has allowed her to spread positivity to those going through a trying time.
For more information about the history and current issues drag kings and queens face today, click below.
The evening ended with Queen Fantasia Wood taking first place in the amateur competition.
Robinson shared that the successful evening inspired him to continue to perform drag, and reassured him of the solidarity within the community.
“Drag is a very positive thing in this community, and brings people together,” Robinson said.
“It also serves as a way to allow the community to experience an escape from life’s everyday boundaries, struggles, and binaries that seek to hold us back.”
As for the career of Queen Fantasia Wood, Robinson is determined to push himself as a performer, choreographer, and play-writer. As for his fashion collection, the plan is to buy a few new pairs of heels. “I only have three pairs, and could use some more,” Robinson said. This plan, which will ultimately allow Robinson to continue spreading his message of positivity, seems easily achievable.