Smile Politely

King Tut and the drag queens

I got a text the other night from a friend of a friend. Amanda Butler, the president of the Archaeological Student Society, informed me that her group is having a fundraiser this week. She wanted to know if I’d like to buy a tickets before the event because I could save a little money that way. (That really was sweet, but so silly, because I will definitely pay $7 instead of $5 to get into any charity event.) I had been to a little fundraiser she had a couple of years back, and that ended with a brownie in my mouth. I figured this new fundraiser would culminate in cupcakes or something equally tasty.

As it turns out, I wasn’t wrong. I talked to Amanda about this shindig, and it sounds kind of incredible.

Smile Politely: So tell me about this fundraiser!

Amanda Butler: We do educational events for the public, and this fundraiser helps support those events, as well as professional development. The show will be Wednesday, April 24, at Emerald City from 7:00 p.m. until close. We decided on a 1920s drag ball because it also showcases a history of queer performativity.

SP: Is there a theme?

AB: Yes! [We were] inspired by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and subsequent Egyptomania of the 1920s. Then we started looking into how it all tied together and we became influenced by these 1920s drag balls, particularly during the Harlem Renaissance. We came across a huge body of literature that detailed huge cabarets and balls that were featured in urban settings.

SP: Sounds very cool! How did you get involved?

AB: The Archaeological Student Society … was a defunct group until this year when I was elected president. We had a vision of how the group should function and we rewrote the bylaws to include that we must put on at least one educational event per year and hold two events to defray the costs of that event. And to support our members in scholarly engagements such as conference presentations, invited lectures, research, travel, etc.

SP: Why archeology? What do you love about it?

AB: I’ve always wanted to be an archaeologist [since] before I even knew what that meant. I love the fact that I can connect history through artifact biographies. Every artifact was made by someone and has its own history and stories that connect them with people, places, and time.

SP: You mentioned “educational events.” What kind of things have you done?

AB: We actually just had a huge public educational event this past Friday that we partnered with the Native American Student Organization for. It was an archeology and indigenous expo. We also had a Native American dance performance that we co-sponsored. We held the expo on campus and then had the Native Pride Arts dance at Spurlock Museum’s Knight Auditorium. We had between 300 and 500 students, faculty, and public members attend the expo and about 100 people for the dance.

SP: Sounds like a success! Just out of curiosity … is there one period of time or one particular place you enjoy more than others?

AB: Yes! I love the Mississippian time period in North American archeology (1050–1300 AD), specifically Cahokia, the only Native American city north of Mexico. At the same time, it had more people in the city than London did.

SP: Whoa. Well, the drag show sounds really cool. What can we expect?

AB: Karaoke 7:00–9:00 p.m., 9:30–midnight drag, then dancing. We will have posters up about 1920s drag balls that flourished in queer circles in the 1920s.

SP: Sexy and informative! And I do love Emerald City…

Tickets to the event are $5 in advance by emailing before 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Otherwise, the event is $7 at the door. For more information please see the Facebook event page.

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