What’s the ‘T’ in LGBTQA?

The Fire Ball drag show extravaganza more than just entertainment


Photo by File Photo

Story by Sammi Wendling, Staff Writer

Big hair, big personalities and big crowds.

The Fire Ball promises all of the above, but the event is not single-focused by any means.

The Fire Ball is UW-Eau Claire’s premier drag show event, put together by the LGBTQA Resource Center. Not only are there drag queens and kings performing, but a variety of dancers also add to the production.  All profits made go directly to the LGBTQA student social activism efforts.

Chris Jorgenson, director for the Women’s and LGBTQA Resource Center, said while on the surface Fire Ball is a drag show, its larger purpose is to be a mechanism for change.

“My goal for Fire Ball was always that it not just be a drag show; not just be entertainment, but that it can serve a more important purpose,” Jorgenson said. “It has always been designed to be able to support students efforts to engage in social justice advocacy.”

Student justice advocacy ranges into many different efforts on campus.

“With the proceeds from The Fire Ball, we have helped students go on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage,” Jorgenson said.

The proceeds also allow the LGBTQA Resource Center to help fund the annual Eau Queer Film Festival.

This event isn’t just for the queens and kings, however. Students are encouraged to be involved in this “sickening” production, sickening being drag lingo for something that is fabulously fierce or amazing.

In the past, there have been about 40 student volunteers at the event. The Fire Ball is growing, and students are more than welcome to help out. Internships through the LGBTQA Resource Center are also available. Anyone interested can contact Jorgenson for more details.

Gio Salvatore was a dancer at the 2014 Fire Ball. He said the experience was like joining a family that helps each other out, all while having fun. His preparation depended on the queen.

“Some I had rehearsal with once or twice a week for two months, and others I had gotten asked the week of to step in,” Salvatore said. “The costumes were fantastic, and even though some were revealing, what’s more entertaining than half-naked men?”

Salvatore said being involved in the Fire Ball was one of most fun experiences he has ever had, and that he would encourage students to go.

“It broadens their horizons of what they think entertainment is,” Salvatore said. “It opens their eyes to a sub-culture filled with amazing people.”

Friday night only, special guest Raven is scheduled to perform. On Saturday, Alyssa Edwards, a fan-favorite contestant of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6, will be working the runway.

Tickets are on sale now, with a $10 general admission. Tickets are selling much faster than last year, with about 900 already bought. Last Fire Ball, 1500 tickets were sold. The show is expected to sell out again.

Sashay away 6 – 10 p. Feb. 27-28 in the Oijibwe Ballroom in Davies to see Eau Claire’s fabulous queens and kings of drag in this two-day extravaganza.