Overcoming Challenges, Drag Ball Will Survive
Drag Ball exploded eight years ago under Student Union Associate Director Chris Baymiller, OC ’71, who expanded the event’s parameters to encompass all of Wilder and tapped into Student Union budgets to help with its financing.
Baymiller still helps some with fundraising, but the show is essentially run by students. This year, Monk received most of his organizational support from junior Linda Jagge and junior Nickie Hill, who will be next year’s head organizers. In terms of gaining experience, Monk said the experience of Drag Ball organizer has been well worth the time.
“It takes a lot of work to get all this shit done,” he said. “Now that I know how to do it, I feel sort of uniquely qualified to plan these sorts of events.”
Although some consider the $12 per student price too expensive, Monk said the event never makes a profit. The entire budget for the ball is between $28,000 and $32,000 dollars. Two of the priciest items on the budget are the $10,000 lighting scheme and the $12,000 reimbursement of student workers.
Students who work for the Student Union have Drag Ball weekend work requirements automatically in their contracts, but Monk said they are often not needed for as many hours as they are allotted.
“What we’re working on with the Student Union is to have a little bit of Drag Ball funding built into their budgets, so we can just count on that every year,” he said. “If I could just get my staffing paid for, that $12,000 would take off a huge amount of pressure.”
Drag Ball 2006 starts Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. Pre-judging for the runway competition, which takes place from opening to around 11 p.m., is open for public participation.
“The pre-judges are basically to separate the proverbial men from the boys, like who did a really good job and who’s just a boy in a dress,” said Monk.
From that group, 30 people are selected to compete in the runway competition on the stage.
This year’s judges are CDS employee Denise Capers from Stevenson, Director of the Multicultural Resource Center Director and Associate Dean of Students Eric Estes and celebrity guest judge Sharon Gless. Monk described Gless as a sort of “inter-generational superstar” actress: she is best known for her role as Chris Cagney on the 1980s TV show Cagney and Lacey and more recently as Debbie on Queer as Folk (2000).
“People seem to like the celebrity judge thing,” said Monk. “It lent a little bit of glamour to the whole event.”
Though her fame as an actress is her most visible qualification for guest judge, Gless is also grandmother to Oberlin first-year student Hailey Laws. Though Monk gives credit where it’s due to Laws for recruiting her grandmother, he still takes some personal pride:
“The fact that I got Sharon Gless to come is so exciting I might
actually crap my pants.”