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Lipsynching for Life: Behind the Scenes of Prism's Drag Show

Written by Nicole Ogrysko

R.B. Brown performs as Athena Merlot

Benjii Maust '14 came to Ithaca College and knew he'd have no problem finding a place within the college's friendly and active LGBT community. But he was surprised the college didn't have a drag scene. 

After joining Prism, a student organization that discusses sexual orientation and gender identity and expression topics, during his freshman year, he became president of the club a year later. It was then that Maust took the beginning steps to plan an amateur drag show — and get other students on campus excited about drag, too. 

"I wouldn't have thought about planning or organizing anything," he says. "Since I came here and there was a lack of a [drag] presence, I felt very impassioned to do something about it. Drag is an art form, and it can be really beautiful and really emotional."

After months of planning, Prism put on "Lipsynching for Life, Dancing on a Dream" in March, a drag show with about 10 performers — including six students from Ithaca College and four other performers from Cornell University, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and the local area. 


Benjii Maust'14 performs as Kora Zone

All donations and tips that the performers received during their numbers were donated to the Trevor Project, a crisis intervention anti-bullying organization for LGBTQ youth. 

Though Prism hosted a small drag show last year, Maust says it lacked that extra sparkle and attention to detail that the organization put into this year's performances. Members of Prism worked with the staff at Campus Center and Events Services to plan the show, which included homemade columns and decorations on the stage and special lighting. The "fantasy" theme allowed performers to get more creative with their song choices and choreography, Maust says. 

Prism secretary Colton Bready '14 was another key organizer behind "Lipsynching for Life" — giving suggestions on each of the performances during practices, communicating with events coordinators at the college, and designing posters for the show. Bready says he was inspired to bring a taste of the drag scene to IC after several years in the drag community in his hometown of Syracuse. When his high school friend committed suicide last year, Bready says he knew he wanted "Lipsynching for Life" to benefit the Trevor Project.

Colton M. Bready '14 performing as Catanya 'Cat' Von Doll

Maust says he hopes to use the skills he's picked up as a psychology and sociology double major — and as president of Prism — to study social work. He says planning the drag show has helped him bring people together, foster a sense of community, and inform the greater campus about drag.

"I view this drag show as a kind of forum of enlightenment and education — in the form of entertainment — for some people," he says. "It really exposes it and says, 'this is what drag is in its most digestive format for the open public.' It doesn't hide anything."

View a slideshow of all the photos from this event by Fuse photographer Colleen Cunha '13.






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