'Spring Chix' brings drag to the community, raises funds for HIV/AIDS research
Flashing lights, smoke, dollar bills and deafening cheers filled Centennial Hall on April 25 as drag queens of varying sizes and styles strutted through the room.
"Spring Chix" was hosted by Planet of Hazze Productions, a new drag show production company. Its co-founders, Neal Primm and Jarrod Fish, organized the show to bring drag to the Mount Pleasant community. Although the night aimed for festivity, the event was grounded in charity, collecting clothing donations for transitioning people and fundraising for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research.
Throughout the night, drag queens Dahlia Rivers, Miss Moscato, Zuzu Bella, Christie Da Vinci and Britney Blitz performed, dancing and lip-syncing to a cheering crowd. Primm, a former Central Michigan University student, and Fish co-hosted and performed in the show as their drag personas, Lavender Haaze and Formica.
Between the performances, Primm shared a more personal motivation for organizing the show. He detailed his numerous hospital visits, declining health, high medical bills and eventual diagnosis with stage three HIV in 2018. To an impassioned crowd, Primm shared his anger at his former partner for not knowing or caring about being an HIV carrier.
"There's a cure out there, and it's being bypassed because America doesn't want to get a cure because they're making money off of it," Primm said. "Get tested, know your status and let your partners know."
Fish thanked his mother and grandparents, who were in attendance for the show. His mother, Beth Fish, said the show and Fish's journey to drag has been "unbelievably amazing."
"It's hard for me to imagine not accepting your kid 100 percent, no matter who they are, but I know it happens," Beth said. "Just watch them, watch that glow they get from having to hide that part of themselves and then bloom into this person who's actually happy. I think if any parent sees their kid genuinely happy, it doesn't matter what they're doing. It doesn't have to be for you, but look at that face, how could you not want to be a part of that?"
The show was an independent production from CMU, but received promotion from the Office of LGBTQ Services. As a result, the event attracted attendees from both CMU and the Mount Pleasant community.
Mount Pleasant resident Tammy Fitzgerald had never been to a drag show before and said the experience was amazing and inspiring.
"I'm not exactly sure how I would describe it," Fitzgerald said. "It was just mind-blowing to see them out there doing what they do, not a care what people would think or judge, just them being them and who they are. It's amazing because you don't see that often."
This was Planet of Haaze Productions' first time organizing a drag show, but it was also a first for Centennial Hall.
"(Centennial Nights) is the only other thing we throw that's really open to the public," said Centennial Hall co-owner Chelsie Marchand. "Everything else that we have here is people renting the space, so we enjoy these type of events because it's more fun and you get to see all different people."
For drag show first-timers and connoisseurs alike, the event was one of excitement and empowerment, rooted in a welcoming and accepting atmosphere.
"(Drag) has such a good message with it, and honestly drag queens are involved in the community, charities and helping out," Primm said. "You kind of get to be your own star, you don't need other people to tell you you're a star because you believe in yourself."