The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

PRISM welcomes professional and student performers in annual drag show following collaborative planning process

4 min read
Women in red outfit with red hair posing.

D’manda Martini received a WATCH award in 2022 for her performance as Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest.” @dmandamartini | Instagram


Staff Writer

Drag is about having a community where people can express themselves and feel safe doing so, and on Saturday, April 6, PRISM will honor the importance of this performance art at one of their largest and most well-attended events of the year: the annual PRISM drag show. 

According to the UMW website about the club, PRISM “is an education-based club focusing on issues and information that pertains to gender and sexual minorities.” On the day of the event, PRISM’s executive board will be hard at work setting up the event, running the event—and some will even be performing. 

To set the mood for the show, the Digital Auditorium in the HCC will be transformed into an under-the-sea wonderland, as the volunteers shroud the room in streamers, jellyfish and seashells. Behind the scenes, 11 executive board members are responsible for setting up the event, led by PRISM President and senior political science major Edward Haggerty. 

The drag show has been a tradition since 2002, and it even continued during the COVID-19 pandemic with a virtual show. Both professional queens and student performers will strut, slay and serve all night, creating an open and welcoming environment for students of all genders and sexualities.  

Philip Stover, a freshman English: creative writing major and secretary of PRISM, contacted the professional queens to find performers for this year’s show, and he followed a social media rabbit hole to find a third. 

“I contacted two performers we’ve invited before and found the third by asking them for recommendations,” said Stover. “I had to do a little bit of social media searching to find an email address I could reach since I was only given names of performers.” 

Two professional queens, D’Manda Martini and Esthetic Em, will return to the stage for a second year in a row, accompanied by Logan Stone’s debut performance at UMW. 

D’Manda Martini calls herself “The Chanteuse of Southern Maryland.” She is a cosplayer as well as a Washington Area Theatre Community Honors award-winning actor and nominated costume designer. 

Martini has faced prejudice in reaction to her drag performances in the past. While she was leading the Drag Queen Story Hour at the Silver Spring library in June 2022, a small group of men entered and filmed her reading before “they soon started to interject, yelling about how Martini would face God’s judgment until they were confronted by parents and escorted out by security,” reported The Washington Post

In addition to their performances, Esthetic Em is the associate director for gender and sexuality resources at Shenandoah University. She also writes about race, gender and sexuality on Medium, such as articles like “Queer Media Geared Towards Teens—What Does it Mean?” 

Last but not least, Logan Stone is a drag queen and cosplayer who performs at various drag brunch events in Washington, D.C. She is also organizing the Mx. Tater Tot Pageant which will be held at Kiki—an LGBT bar in Washington, D.C.—on April 20. The winner of the pageant will win $100, a booking at Kiki and an entrance into the Big Pageant in October. 

After finding the professionals, the board then spread the word about student performances. Hailing from PRISM and dance communities on campus, students who wished to show off their voguing skills and fancy footwork—or perhaps even a dramatic death drop—filled out a Google form to register for the show. 

PRISM’s board members developed promotional material to advertise the drag show to the UMW community. To do so, members worked on tasks that utilized their best skills to successfully organize and promote the event. 

“Graphic design is not my passion, and we’re fortunate that we have some very talented people on our e-board,” said Haggerty. “My role in that was making sure those talented people knew the specifications of what we needed—Instagram posts, fliers, sandwich boards, and big banners [that] all need different specifications—so making sure our design team understood that part of it and what the timing should look like in terms of submitting things.”

Along with advertising, PRISM had to effectively communicate with the University by asking for funds from Finance Committee and filling out necessary forms to allow for a smooth and coordinated event. 

“There are the things everyone sees: like the professional queens, student performers, decorations, and promotional materials, but there’s also a lot that’s out of sight,” said Haggerty about the process of planning the event. “Things like reserving the space, coordinating with facilities and A/V, and making sure all of our ducks are in a row so we can follow all of the finance regulations involved.” 

PRISM is tabling from April 1–6 from 10:30 a.m.–2 p.m. at the University Center so students can stop by and get tickets before the show. Tickets to the drag show cost $3 for the UMW community and $5 for non-UMW attendees.