Dressing up and playing make-believe is practically a childhood rite of passage, yet at some point, children transcend their imaginary world and leave the costumes behind.
But for CSU marketing major Angela Morel, “dress up” at age 20 has taken on a new meaning. Painting on dark facial hair and pulling her hair back into a black baseball hat are not just part of a costume ensemble, but a blurring of her feminine gender image.
“The first (drag) show I did, I was so nervous,” Morel said. “I kept my glasses on the entire time so I didn’t have to actually look at anyone.”
For three years, Morel has been crossing that line, a definition or a universal notion of what society deems femininity to be.
One of 14 participants at T’BGLAD’s annual drag show Saturday, she again put herself in the role of a man; not just a man, but someone she referred to as a real street “thug.”
“I mainly get my inspiration from music videos, especially the people I am trying to imitate,” she said.
Her imitation, she said, was inspired by pop culture and pop music. Transforming herself into the role of a gangsta rapper, Morel danced and sang to the music of rapper Nelly.
“Angelo”, Morel’s stage name and male alter ego, wore two costumes during the show. One was a black ensemble with a zip-up coat and black hat. The other had a red and white theme coordinating everything from her shoes to her bandana, to her hat.
Each show dons new outfits and songs, yet the name remains.
Morel said her characters are quite the stretch from her normal personality. She admitted that she had gotten her nails done the day of the performance and then realized she had to try to hide them during the show.
Once on stage, the veteran performer got into character and let loose. She said she feels the audience feeds off of her and she, in turn, feeds off of them. Morel admits that as the number of shows increase, the stage fright decreases.
“I always try to pick popular songs that are high energy to get people moving,” Morel said.
Morel keeps participating in the shows for one reason: the fun.
“It is such a great energy. I get such a rush when I got on stage and know that what I am doing makes people excited, it’s just so much fun,” she said.
Morel was first attracted to the annual drag show her freshman year when she saw signs around campus advertising it. She went, fell in love with the energy, and signed up to participate in the next one.
“It was a great way for me to get to know people in the community and to just have a great time with people I normally didn’t hang out with,” she said.
Morel claims that attending or being part of a drag show is definitely an experience that she will never forget. And while she is a member of the community as an open bisexual, the show encourages all people to get involved, including non-community members who are considered allies.
“I love that something I do can help such a great cause,” Morel said of her experience. “It’s neat that something I do makes people want to give money and help.”
Expect to see Morel at the next CSU drag show, because while she thinks it will stay a strictly on-campus act, she loves it.
“It’s just fun to be out there and enjoy myself and make people laugh,” Morel said of the whole experience.
Michelle Zilis can be reached at email@example.com