The mythical origins of the Queer Fashion Show (QFS) remain widely unknown. Some say it started in Merrill. Others insist it is a Porter creation, inspired by a group of random students rummaging through their closets then strutting their stuff on a self-made runway. Everyone can agree however that the show is a long-standing tradition, born in the age of Lycra, aerobics and Madonna in the late ‘80s.

Through its numerous incarnations, the event has evolved from its original title of “Alternative Fashion Show” to the current “Queer Fashion Show” — and this year’s superhero themed extravaganza is sure to pack some Batman and Robin flavored POW!

“It’s a safe space and we try to get as much involvement as we can,” director Ben Flores said. “And we have fun.”

molly solomon
Courtesy of Molly Solomon.

Auditions for numbers in this spring’s show were held on Jan. 26. The show is scheduled to take place in May as a part of Pride Week, a campus-wide celebration of the queer and allied communities. Past performances of QFS have featured dance, spoken word and of course fashion. And Flores is open to “whatever people want to perform.”

The show is completely student-run and the leadership team of graduating seniors is comprised of Flores, producer Gabriela Espinal, Mariah Corbin, Baldemar Hernandez and David Wilmore. The five listened to proposals from artists on Saturday morning to discern which pieces would be a good match for this year’s production, but their work also extends far beyond the creative process.

“It’s all student-run so as far as performances, anything goes,” Flores said. “But we do have to think about a budget and reserving a venue and the business side of things.”

Though the Porter student activities office does provide some funds and advisors to keep the show on track, it’s up to the directors to make the rest of the magic happen. This involves asking college senates for potential funding, raising the rest of the money themselves through bake sales and reserving a space to actually hold the show. But volunteering their time isn’t a problem for these student organizers with a passion for the cause.

“I had recently come out as bisexual and I wasn’t really okay with myself but when you watch the show, you can relate,” said Flores on his first encounter with QFS in 2011.

QFS has meant a lot to them throughout their time at UCSC, whether they found the show when struggling with their own sexuality or were simply intrigued by the name.

“It’s a community to share and be yourself,” Hernandez said. “And a safe place for people to express themselves. You gain something from it no matter what you do.”

Queer Fashion Show leaders held auditions for numbers on Saturday morning for spring’s show. From left to right: Gabriela Espinal, Mariah Corbin, Ben Flores, Baldemar Hernandez and David Wilmore. Photo by Daniela Ruiz.

A second audition will be held Feb. 2 in the Porter Hitchcock Lounge — time TBD — for those looking to produce a piece. A general informational meeting will be held in the coming weeks for interested performers. Choreographers and designers will be looking for dancers and models from all communities, with no specific experience necessary. QFS strives to be open to as many people as possible.

“It’s really the Queer Family Show,” Espinal said.

All the directors endorse the opportunity as a meaningful way to get involved with a tight knit and supportive community.

“It’s a great way to connect with different people, have fun and make a lot of friends,” Flores said. “If you have the chance, do it.”