The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Bryan-College Station Regional participants announced
Ian Curtis, Sports Writer • May 27, 2024

For the second time in three seasons, No. 3 national seed Texas A&M baseball will host the Bryan-College Station Regional, where it’ll...

Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

‘An absolute dream’: Rachel Slur Adonis named 2023 Queen of Draggieland

Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Rachel Slur Adonis is crowned Queen of Draggieland 2023 in Rudder Theatre on Thursday, April 6, 2023.

During a rainy weekday in Aggieland, the Rudder Theatre spotlights shone brightly on Draggieland, as it hosted queens from across the state of Texas for the fourth year in a row.

On Thursday, April 6, nine queens competed for the title of Queen of Draggieland. The contest was emceed by Nirvana Piranha and Mistress Isabelle Brooks, a top-four contestant on the currently-airing season 15 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. 

Alongside an increased field of competitors, Draggieland 2023 also hosted a new format of three scored sections: presentation, interview and talent. The judging panel included two former Queens of Draggieland, Cora Cadette and Jessy B Darling, as well as former host Petty Brooks. Scores from each section were tallied to determine three finalists, who then competed in a final fan-voted lip sync contest.

During the presentation section, contestants were asked to coordinate their looks with the “We Bloom” theme, and interpretations ranged from Alaina C. Chanel’s yellow roses, to Kitty Kontour’s sunflowers to DaBean’s marigold-adorned sombrero. 

During the interview section, contestants were judged on poise and personality when responding to randomly-selected questions. When asked what advice she would give to new drag artists, Anita Tension said the performance style has allowed her art to appear in a new form.

“This has been the most liberating experience for me, starting drag,” Tension said. “I’ve been an artist for almost eight years, with visual art, and drag gives me the opportunity to put my art in the three-dimensional world. It allows me to express my creativity in ways I never thought possible.”

When asked how her drag will evolve in the next year, Deaven Lee said her art is constantly changing.

“I design everything head-to-toe for myself, I designed this entire look,” Lee said. “I’ve been doing drag for about three years, and I can only see myself getting better. I’ve been sewing for two years … I’m obsessed with drag, this is my passion and this is what I was born to do.”

During the talent portion, queens dazzled audiences with a wide array of performances, each with elements of dance and lip syncing, with a significant portion of the score determined by audience reaction. Even with some consistent elements, talents ranged from color guard rifle tossing from Shelby Fine to pickle-themed numbers from Infinity LaVey Adonis and a Catwoman-inspired act from Lily Adonis Fables.

But between the rhinestoned outfits and dramatic makeup, student leaders like Draggieland executive showrunner Zanab Toppa shared their concerns about current legislation in Texas, and the U.S. at-large, regarding drag artists and the transgender community.

“Drag, today … is under attack,” Toppa said. “Less than two weeks ago, West Texas A&M had their university drag show canceled, in a university-wide email, and last year something similar happened with our drag show at A&M. All across the country, lawmakers from Texas to Florida to Tennessee are actively passing inflammatory legislation, attempting to attack and restrict drag.”

In some ways, these external threats inspired the “We Bloom” theme, to represent that even through difficult times, the drag and LGBTQ+ community can still flourish, Piranha said.

“We wanted to do something with blooming because this time in politics and legislation is kind of dark and murky,” Nirvana Piranha said. “We want to take the opportunity to remind everyone that drag really has the power to transform that energy into a night like tonight, where it’s all about community and it’s all about love.”

At the end of scoring, judges named finalists in each category, as well as three overall finalists. In the presentation category, Chanel placed first, while Rachel and Lee were named runner ups. For the interview category, Rachel was named first and Chanel was named second, and for talent places were reversed, with Chanel in first and Rachel in second. 

Rachel, Chanel and Fine were named as finalists and competed in a high-power lip sync mashup of “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor and “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child, after which audiences voted to name the Queen of Draggieland. During the voting period, the 2022 Queen of Draggieland, Jessy B Darling, performed for the last time as reigning queen, with a bubbly rendition of “Venus Fly Trap” by MARINA. Following Darling, Brooks performed a love song mashup, sporting an all-gold dress and a tower of hair, her second number at the event.

The title of 2023 Queen of Draggieland was given to Rachel, who only began her drag career in January of this year. In her acceptance remarks, Rachel thanked all those who supported her, and encouraged audience members to stay involved in the drag scene and LGBTQ+ community.

“This has been an absolute dream,” Rachel said. “I never really thought I would be standing up here. Thank you to all my sisters up here on stage with me, to everyone who isn’t on stage but helped and thank you to all of you for showing up and showing out for us. Keep supporting local drag, keep being queer.”

This year’s competition was hosted by Transcend, a transgender and nonbinary organization, and oSTEM, a LGBTQ+ professional organization. In future years, the newly-recognized Queer Empowerment Council will be responsible for hosting Draggieland, materials science and engineering doctoral student and council president Sophia Ahmed said. 

“oSTEM already has a great method [to run Draggieland], but basically we’re going to house a committee within the Queer Empowerment Council,” Ahmed said. “We’ll be able to get more volunteers and get the wider community involved, as an overarching organization.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *