Dressed in a tight red dress with black high heels, Anders Norberg, moonlighting as “Anita Mann,” lip-synced Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
It was the first time Norberg, a freshman economics major, had ever dressed in drag — but that didn’t stop him from pulling his mother up onstage with him to dance as he vied for the distinction of top drag queen at the fourth annual Art Scholars drag show.
For the freshman contestant, Norberg said he gained a lot of character and experience of portraying someone different in this year’s Art Scholars drag show.
“Someone on Facebook posted about it, and I said, ‘Why not?’” Norberg said.
About 50 people showed up at the Cambridge Community Center last night to watch three contestants compete for votes and the drag queen crown prize last night. The competition included pageant elements such as a Q&A session, a talent portion, eveningwear modeling and a lip-sync battle between the two finalists.
“The event is more of a performance than ever before,” said sophomore Anna Bella Sicilia, a history and philosophy major.
Unlike last year, this year’s event had a prom theme. The three student judges — Daniel Smeriglio, a senior theatre major, Caroline Aube, a freshman communication major, and Anna Harris, a senior music major — played characters as well, acting as administrators of the fictional school hosting the prom.
“The judges participate in the show, and they have their own personalities, and so it’s kind of modeled after RuPaul’s Drag Race, giving it another fun aspect,” said Sam Sauter, a junior environmental science and policy major and leader of the show last year.
In 2011, the Art Scholars program was looking for a creative fundraiser, Harris said. A drag show fit the bill, and four years later, it continues to draw crowds.
“It’s grown so much in the last couple of years, and we are all really happy about it,” she said.
The profits from this year’s show will go to Joe’s Movement Emporium’s Club Joe’s, an after-school arts program for county children that Arts Scholars program members frequently volunteers for.
“For most of these kids, [Club Joe’s] is their only experience with art and it is really important to them to have a creative outlet part of their education that they don’t get at a public school,” Harris said.
Throughout the night, the contestants — who went by names such as Patti LuBones, Anita Mann and Lady A Deeyate — kept the audience laughing. Early on during the talent portion, Lady A Deeyate, sang an original self-titled song filled with raunchy language and phrases, and Anita Mann threw a wig out into the audience during the lip-sync battle.
The show also featured a performance from last year’s winner, Anya Neez — portrayed by Kyle Travers — before calling up the final two contestants back.
By the end of the night, Patti LuBones was crowned winner — the alter ego of Connor Laughland, junior neurobiology and physiology major.
“It’s a lot of laughs, raunchy, really crazy and just weird,” Sicilia said.