Illini Union’s annual drag show returns after two-year hiatus


Sydney Laput

Drag King Spank Knightly performs on stage for the Illini Union’s annual drag show on Thursday. This is the shows first time back at the Illini Union after a two year pause.

By Ashleigh Kendrick, Contributing Writer

After a two-year hiatus, the Illini Union’s annual drag show returned to the Unviersity Thursday night as students and community members alike gathered to enjoy the show. 

Max Paulson, a graduate student studying Veterinary Medicine, said they were very excited to see the show return to Champaign. 

“I love it, I try to come out whenever stuff is happening in Champaign,” Paulson said. 

Paulson and others watched the performances of seven individuals, beginning with Calexus Carrington-Steele, dubbed “the hair toss boss” for her hair tossing talent.

Carrington-Steele debuted three looks, a fiery red sequined and feathered dress, a silver dress and finally a half black, half white cocktail dress with a red belt and large thorned shoulder pads. 

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    Following Carrington-Steele was the drag king Spank Knightly. Knightly amused the crowd with his highly detailed makeup and a light-up rabbit antenna television that he placed on his head as he danced through the aisles. 

    Carrington-Steele’s drag mother, Ceduxion Carrington, was another performer. Carrington had the whole crowd in a Disney sing-a-long as she came out to “We don’t talk about Bruno.” Carrington wore a black cloak that she took off to reveal a floral dress that also turned into a pantsuit. 

    In addition to being a performer, Ceduxion Carrington doubled as a host for the event, adding her own fun commentary throughout performances and announcing her fellow drag queens to the stage. 

    Following Carrington’s performance was another drag daughter, Karma Carrington. Karma Carrington was one of the two performers from the Champaign-Urbana area. She wowed the crowd as she vogued up and down the stage, jumping off the stage into a half split towards the end of her routine. 

    Theodore Berlanga, a graduate student in veterinary medicine, expressed how excited he was watching the performance on stage.

    “I love drag so much, every time I go to a drag show I’m mentally planning my own routine,” Berlanga said. “I get so excited.” 

    The second performer from the area was Kelasia Karmikal who was born and raised in Champaign. Karmikal now lives in Las Vegas where she has continued performing in shows. She also works in Hollywood doing hair for award ceremonies like the Grammys and mingling with celebrities such as Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. 

    Karmikal has been doing drag for 20 years, and to celebrate her longevity in the drag community, she revamped one of her first drag outfits for Thursday night’s show. 

    Mykul J. Valentine blew the crowd away with his gymnastic abilities as he did a split upside down and on top of a chair. Valentine also did a black flip on stage much to the crowd’s excitement. 

    The final performer in the lineup was Amaya M. Saint James, who is from Chicago, Illinois. Saint James took the stage in flashy floor-length dresses and risqué outfit reveals. 

    The performers ended the night with one last lineup where everyone was on stage. The performers stated how they hoped to see the audience at the next annual drag show. 

    Melanie Narvaez, a graduate student studying Veterinary Medicine, expressed how she enjoyed the performance and learning about drag culture. 

    “I watch RuPaul’s drag race a lot, so I love learning about drag culture,” Naraez said.


    [email protected]