Coleslaw performs inside the planetarium.
Coleslaw performed inside the planetarium.
Erin Clark for The Boston Globe

At the planetarium, drag shows that are out of this world

During a laser-light show at the Museum of Science planetarium, a drag queen named “Coleslaw” strutted and lip-synched through a new kind of immersive variety show aimed at an adult, late-night crowd.

“Let’s do a contest,” said Ian Diver, the show’s co-producer, who performs as Coleslaw. “Who’s louder? This side or that side?” The audience cheered in response. “Oh, shut up. That’s pathetic. And the winner is me!”

This summer, drag queens and drag kings are taking over the Charles Hayden Planetarium every second Thursday of the month. During the day, the planetarium still holds traditional space science shows on the solar system, NASA missions, and the night sky. But now, in addition to the musical laser-light shows the museum has hosted for years, drag performances will also be on the bill.

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“This summer, we’re exploring theater, drag, live music, and doing some sci-fi space film screenings all in the dome,” said James Wetzel, co-producer of adult programming at the Museum of Science.

“It just hit me that we could do a drag show in a planetarium in a way that has never been done before using the technology and the way the venue is set up.”

Boston - 06/14/2018 Pristine Christine applies her makeup before performing at the Museum of Science. "You get to pick your clothes, you get to pick your hair," says Pristine Christine. "You get to live this glamourous life that you normally would not." Boston's best Drag Queens took over the Planetarium for the first time to kick off the museum's Summer Thursday programs. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe (metro)
Pristine Christine applied makeup before performing at the Museum of Science.
The Boston Globe

The first drag show at the museum was actually a year and a half ago. It was a surprise pop-up performance after the premiere of the “Lady Gaga Experience.” As the audience left the music show inside the planetarium, they found a stage set up in the atrium with a “drag tribute” to Lady Gaga.

Diver, a local multimedia artist, said he considers drag to be one of the most immersive types of performance. Using the light show as a backdrop, Diver’s character was joined by three fellow drag queens named Qya Cristal, Violencia Exclamation Point, and Pristine Christine.

Boston - 06/14/2018 Pristine Christine walks past the sun exhibit before she performs at the Museum of Science. Boston's best Drag Queens took over the Planetarium for the first time to kick off the museum's Summer Thursday programs. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe (metro)
Pristine Christine walked past the sun exhibit in the museum.
The Boston Globe

“There’s no fourth wall, there’s no barrier between the performer and the audience,” said Wetzel. “The room is really set-up for that as well. It’s a 360 [degree] space with audience at all sides. There’s nowhere for the audience to hide, in the best way possible.”

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People’s eyes were glued to the performers’ every move. Some in the crowd cheered. Others threw dollar bills.

“My main drive is to make people smile,” Diver said. “I look at it like being a clown. Drag queens should focus on making people happy and bringing people together, making a sense of community, making people feel safe, making people feel accepted.”

Boston - 06/14/2018 Coleslaw stands in front of a fan in the office of the Museum of Science in an attempt to cool herself off before performing. Boston's best Drag Queens took over the Planetarium for the museum's Summer Thursday program. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe (metro)
Coleslaw cooled off in front of a fan in the office at the Museum of Science.
Erin Clark for The Boston Globe

On July 12, drag kings from the local performance troupe Slaughterhouse Society will perform dressed up as rock stars like David Bowie, Prince, and Marilyn Manson.

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“It was a different way of seeing a drag show but it felt fitting,” said Sabrina Dorsainvil, 27, of Jamaica Plain, after seeing a recent drag performance at the planetarium. “Everyone once in a while I reminded myself to look up at the laser light show, especially when queens were out of my line of vision.”

Erin Clark for The Boston Globe
Violencia Exclamation Point applied eyelashes before performing.

Marcia Sturtevant, 70, arrived with five daughters and one granddaughter. They were there to celebrate a birthday. This was not Sturtevant’s first drag show.

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“It was very good,” she said. “Key West is out of this world, but this was very good.”

Sturtevant’s granddaughter, Katie Morrison, 29, said it was less raunchy than she was used to. Meanwhile, Sturtevant’s daughter, Lori Sturtevant, said she had never seen a drag show in her life. It left her speechless.

“I’m never speechless,” she said. “When I got there, I had my hand over my mouth and I was like, ‘oh my God.’ I was in awe. Then again, I haven’t ever been to a strip club ever either.”

Boston - 06/14/2018 Pristine Christine performs at the Museum of Science's Planetarium for the first time to kick off the museum's Summer Thursday program. "You get to pick your clothes, you get to pick your hair," says Pristine Christine about her favorite part of being a drag queen. "You get to live this glamourous life that you normally would not." Erin Clark for The Boston Globe (metro) Erin Clark for The Boston Globe (metro)
Pristine Christine performed in the planetarium for the first time to kick off the museum's summer Thursday program.
Erin Clark for The Boston Globe