Captain Spanky-pants directs a confused traveler during a QFS skit. Photo by Nita-Rose Evans.
Captain Spanky-pants directs a confused traveler during a QFS skit. Photo by Nita-Rose Evans.
Photo by Nita-Rose Evans.
Photo by Nita-Rose Evans.
Photo by Nita-Rose Evans.
Photo by Nita-Rose Evans.

The closest thing to a UCSC fashion week is here and as fabulous as ever. The Queer Fashion Show (QFS) is hitting the runway.

Opening on April 30, QFS has been around since the 80’s. Fused with singing, dancing, and spoken word performances, this year’s theme plays with the idea of fairy tales, as suggested in the show’s title, “Once Upon a Queer.”

“There are actually more fashion designers this year than ever before,” said fourth-year Porter student Julie Roth, who is both designing a line based on the play “Medea,” and modeling in a friend’s performance.

The art department does not currently offer fashion design classes, and the only garment construction training is through theater costuming. Designers Emma Trollman and Amy Bobeda gained their sewing experience working with Shakespeare Santa Cruz. The two co-designed a line based on the fantasy of the circus.

“It’s really bright and exciting and ridiculous,” Trollman said. “It’s about how people with really weird abnormalities who had no way of supporting themselves … could still have a job through the circus. Even though they had weird lifestyles and were not accepted by most people, in the circus they were kind of celebrities.”

A bearded lady, conjoined twins, a strong man, and other circus performers will don this wild and colorful line on the runway.

In an effort to get away from mainstream love stories about princesses and fairies, literature major Olivia Warner chose to portray the darker side of traditional fairytales. She is depicting “The Little Mermaid,” putting together a performance loaded with symbolism and references to the dangerous side of being queer.

“The thing about fairy tales is that they’re really violent,” Warner said. “Like, in Grimm’s fairytales people are burning and bleeding, and those are the textual fairy tales, and that kind of stuff has kind of been edited out of them.”

Warner’s presentation is a fairy tale gone wrong. In the end, a mermaid giving up her voice in order to spread her legs for a prince turns out to be a raw deal.

“The tail that I have her wear is a full-length corset,” Warner said. “She has to be carried around, and onstage she’s cut open and out of it … she’ll be wearing blood-streaked tights, and have blood in her mouth.”

The original creation of the QFS was an attempt to open up the stage to people who have felt unwelcome and have something to say. Breezy Colomb, co-director of the show and a fourth-year from Porter College, describes this year as an attempt to be realistic about diversity, showing people of all colors and sizes.

“People were tired of seeing skinny white girls on stage in fashion shows,” Colomb said.

The final dress rehearsal found the Porter Dining Hall hectic, full of performers and designers scrambling to finish garments and work out sound system glitches. In the corner of the room, second-year literature major Aaron Juni fought to buckle his model into a butter yellow corset, part of his science-fiction inspired line.

“I’m bunching the fabric up on this side,” Irene O’Connell, the model said to Juni, as they wrestled with the vinyl, wrenching the belt together.

“Oh fashion,” Juni said with a sigh, giving up and setting his model free. “Gotta love it.”


Where to buy QFS Tickets: Quarry Plaza 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Porter Dining hall 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.

Performance Times:
April 30, 8 p.m., $6
May 1, 8 p.m. $6*

*There is a scheduled protest on May 1, so in the event that QFS may have to be cancelled on the night of May 1, there will be a show on Sunday, May 2, at 3 p.m.