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A passion for performance

Posted 6 a.m. Friday, Oct. 20, 2023

Nathan Zinn-Wirtz performs as Solitaire Noell Beige

Local drag performer shares how she came to life as part of October Celebrations Month 

In March 2021, Nathan Zinn-Wirtz decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a drag performer. Today Zinn-Wirtz, a university custodian, is known as Solitaire Noell Beige when performing with The Rochester Girls and The La Crosse Gurls. You also may recognize Solitaire as the co-host for Drag Queen Bingo at the annual Eagle Fest celebration. 

Solitaire will share how she came to life and how the journey impacted her life during a presentation at UWL. The presentation, “We Fight On!” will be from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, in The Bluffs, Student Union. It falls during the same month as National Coming Out Day, which was established 30 years ago to honor the bravery of LGBTQ+ people who have come out and to increase awareness of LGBTQ+ communities around the world. 

Solitaire will share the freedom of drag and gender expression, and how drag changes the lives of many — one performance at a time. Solitaire will also perform during the event. The UWL Pride Center will share some of the history of drag. 

Are drag queens always men? 

No. Anyone can participate in drag. Dressing in drag historically meant men dressing in women’s clothes and women in men’s clothes. However, today “dressing in drag” has a much broader definition. It is an artform for anyone to enjoy through performance and as a spectator Drag queens can be gay or straight; cisgender or trans women; non-binary people; and others. Drag is not masculine or feminine.  

What is drag?  

Drag performers take the idea of gender and gender expression and use their creativity to create a persona to transform themselves. “Drag is the theatrical exaggeration of gender,” said Joe E. Jeffreys, a drag historian and adjunct instructor at New York University in a CNN article.  

Are drag shows illegal in some states?  

In 2023, some U.S. states have attempted to impose legislative measures that would impact where and when drag can be performed. However, laws that were introduced have been temporarily blocked or ruled unconstitutional.   

How has drag influenced the beauty industry? 

The drag community for decades has quietly impacted the beauty industry by starting trends. Before YouTube, before Instagram and before “influencers,” drag performers were already using techniques like contouring. These were passed on by word of mouth and older performers (Drag Mothers) who would take newcomers under their wing. Drag performers were also leaders in the LGBTQ+ Movement. They were and still are activists, leaders, resisters, advocates, and protesters speaking up for the LGBTQ+ community. 


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