Painting a canvas in the world of drag
Sophia Mendes/Staff Writeremail@example.com
In the world of drag performances, where glittering costumes meet self-expression, Juneau Rich, ‘24, known as Prisma Palette on stage, has emerged as a rising star.
Rich said that their artistic roots were sewn in a love for cosplay and costuming, a passion that seamlessly evolved into the realm of drag. They created the name and character Prisma Palette their freshman year, back home in upstate New York.
Rich said it was the vibrant drag scene in Burlington, and the inclusive queer community that ignited their journey. Rich often performs at local events in Burlington.
Damien Wortheim ‘26 was in the audience for the Drag Newcomer’s Showcase on Nov. 2, where Rich performed as Prisma Palette.
“They had a great personality on stage, I really thought that their choice of song fit their style,” Wortheim said. “‘I’m So Hot’ by Chrissy [Chlapecka] made the performance upbeat and enjoyable.
You could tell that they were celebrating themself with the song while they were dancing.”
Being genderqueer, Rich wanted to be a drag artist, not confined by specific labels like drag queen or drag king.
“I had developed the name Prisma Palette, and the idea of being a drag artist slash drag performer instead of specifically a drag queen or a drag king,” Rich said. “I find my drag to be a combination of feminine and masculine so, for me, it is very representative of my gender and how I choose to express it.”
Rich finds that being both a college student and a drag artist presents its challenges. They are the president of Common Ground, co-captain of the dance team, and work two on-campus jobs.
The pressure intensifies when organizing drag events, requiring Rich to take the role of a performer and event organizer. Still, sometimes even just participating is stressful.
“Last week was a lot,” Rich admitted after recently participating in The Drag Newcomers’ Showcase in Burlington. “Because I was trying to choreograph my dance, make my costume, figuring out my props, and balancing that with school was difficult.”
Rich is confronted with misconceptions surrounding drag, particularly the idea that drag performance is inappropriate for children. In the Burlington drag scene, they have found that children embrace it.
“At the drag show I was in, there was a nine-year-old that performed,” Rich said.
Rich emphasized the diversity within the drag community, advocating for spaces like Drag Queen Story Hours, events where drag artists read storybooks to children. Rich said it is important to acknowledge that there are multiple forms of drag, some of which are very wholesome.
In recent years, drag has been threatened in several U.S. states. Anti-drag legislation has been passed in Tennessee and Montana, strictly limiting drag performance. To support drag artists, Rich urges people to attend local drag shows and acknowledge the rich history beyond mainstream representations.
Supporting local performers, learning about the roots of drag, and embracing diverse expressions is essential to the rights and visibility of the community, Rich said.
Reflecting on collaborations with experienced local drag artists like Emoji Nightmare and Rhedd Rhumm, Rich expressed gratitude for their welcoming and supportive approach. Rich said this is a testament to the evolution of drag culture.
Emoji Nightmare, a popular drag queen in the Burlington scene, participated in last year’s drag show at St. Michael’s College. The show was organized by Rich and Common Ground.
Emoji Nightmare also performed at the recent Drag Newcomers’ Showcase.
“[Rich] impressed me right away and it was so great to have them competing in the showcase,” Emoji Nightmare said. “They placed seventh out of 17, which, considering the stack of talent, was quite impressive and should be applauded.”
For those considering their own drag career, Rich said not to hesitate to try it. They advised seeking guidance from local queens, building an online presence, and being patient with the process of artistic development.
Success in drag does not require a hefty budget, Rich said. Resourcefulness and creativity can allow for stunning performances at a reasonable price.