Drag Ball: A Photo Essay

Professional drag queens and students took the stage at the ’Sco last Friday for the annual Drag Ball, titled Oberlin is Burning. Drag Ball is an Oberlin favorite that celebrates queer history and creative expression. The stars of the night this year included The Vixen, Miss Toto, Chi Chi DeVayne, and Shea Couleé. The following artists’ statements are from two students who documented the night.

Brian James, College senior: I brought my camera to Drag Ball because I knew everyone would want their picture taken. … Obies were trying new, glamorous looks and defying gender norms. … Compliments were flying and people were feeling themselves. That energy was perfect for photographing. Almost every person I photographed was wearing clothes completely different from their daily Oberlin fits, but pulling them off with total confidence. Shooting was easy and fun and it felt good to capture how stunning everyone was.

Matthew Antezzo, College junior: It’s difficult to present the full story of the night through a series of snapshots. Showing beauty and glamour is important, but I wanted to share the amazing performances through photos. A choice I made early on proved to be key in having fun and getting the pictures I wanted: get close. On the way into the ’Sco, I followed the performers while taking Polaroids. Since I was right in front of them, they focused on me and were already performing for the camera. … It was a transformative experience to be able to watch the show and capture the spirit and life of the night.

Matthew Antezzo
Drag queen Chi Chi DeVayne, one of last weekend’s performers, at Drag Ball.
Matthew Antezzo
Chi Chi DeVayne performing at Drag Ball.
Matthew Antezzo
Drag queen Shea Couleé performs at Drag Ball last weekend.
Brian James
College senior Juan Contreras and College junior Matthew Antezzo at Drag Ball last weekend.