The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

LaLa Ri brings the house down at CU Pride Fest‘s Drag Extravaganza

Angel Saldivar
Karma Carrington as the opening act during CU Pride Fest’s Drag Extravaganza.

On Saturday evening, The Canopy Club hosted a drag show as part of Champaign-Urbana’s annual Pride Fest. The event was presented by Uniting Pride of Champaign County, and it was headlined by LaLa Ri of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” and hosted by Callie Luttman of the radio station Mix 94.5. 

The show also featured performances by Spank Nightly, Just Sue, Karma Carrington, Peach of the Midwest and Ceduxion Carrington.

Audience members waved miniature pride flags and donned clothing with rainbow patterns.

Music from DJ Silkee began the evening, getting most crowd members on their feet and dancing. 

Nicole Frydman, director of Uniting Pride of Champaign County, introduced herself to the audience and then joined the Uniting Pride dance team for a choreographed sequence that ended with one of the dancers jumping into the splits.

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    Karma Carrington opened the drag show, walking out to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Carrington, dressed in a black and white ruffled overcoat, later removed the large garment to reveal a silver leotard and silver knee-high boots. 

    Peach of the Midwest followed, with a Beyoncé-themed set that got all crowd members out of their seats. The audience roared as Peach danced to “Formation” and “Love on Top.”

    Ceduxion Carrington also chose Beyoncé and performed three numbers from her Renaissance tour, including “CUFF IT” and “PURE HONEY.” 

    She wore a striped denim pants set and was the only queen to switch her wig mid-performance.

    Next up was Just Sue, with a routine set to two tracks from Olivia Rodrigo’s recent sophomore album “GUTS.” The crowd was jumping up and down with her throughout the heavy rock sections of “all american bitch” and “ballad of a homeschooled girl.”

    Just Sue dressed the part in a punk-rock look with knee-high, black boots, dark eye makeup and a plaid, pink skirt.

    After being introduced as “the human cigarette,” drag king Spank Knightly performed a dance skit to “The Twilight Zone” in a black and white suit bearing the song title. His set elicited strong laughter and shouts of “I love you Spank Knightly!” from the audience.

    Knightly later performed a ballad, steering away from the usual lip-sync style of drag, and opting to sing live. The rendition was met with a standing ovation from the audience.

    The loudest moment of the night came when LaLa Ri appeared on stage for the first time.

    She spun around in her black, fringe bodysuit to various Cardi B hits.

    The audience threw tips to the queen and rapped each word to “Bodak Yellow.”

    Two of the queens were given the mic after performing in order to personally address the crowd. 

    After her second performance, Karma Carrington called for a moment of silence to remember queer people who have passed away due to hate crimes or bigotry.

    “Pride will always be a protest against the norm,” Carrington said. “It is our queer rage and ferociousness that got us to this point, and we have to keep it going.”

    LaLa Ri took the opportunity to thank specific members of the crowd for her success on season eight of “Ru Paul’s Drag Race: All Stars.”

    “The ones who voted for me, thank you all so much,” LaLa Ri said.

    She closed the show with a routine set to Beyonce’s “All Night” wearing a lime green, sparkly unitard with matching fingerless gloves and pink ankle-boots. 

    Rather than featuring dance breaks or attention-grabbing movements, LaLa Ri simply walked slowly through the crowd, locking eyes with each audience member, allowing her own presence to steal the show.

    Host Luttman brought the queens and king out on stage for a final goodbye as the crowd whistled and waved their pride flags.


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    Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
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