Thursday night promised drag stars and banned books from the past, and possibly future, as the St. Pete Shuffle hosted its main event, Banned Books are a Drag Show.
Bold readings by numerous authors, including Rob McCabe and Clark Brooks, were coupled with the stellar, admittedly risqué, performances of local drag artists.
Performers Matthew McGee, Stephanie Stuart, Vanna T. Scarlett, Aura Gasmique, Lola Mayhem and Lovonda Deck took to the floor and danced their way through the crowd creatively interpreting various banned books.
The event presented these books as literary pieces of art. The idea was to show they hold cultural value, can bring a community together, and have the potential to stand the test of time.
One of the highlights of the evening was a tribute to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The renowned series is currently involved in a controversy at a Catholic school in Tennessee.
Drag queen Stephanie Stuart was topically dressed in a black gown adorned with a pointed witch’s hat. Stuart’s performance included several incantations derived from the source material, playfully proving no harm in the book’s subject matter while calling into question the necessity of the ban.
When asked why Stuart chose the Harry Potter series, Stuart replied, “It was the most current thing in the news.” Stuart continued to say the school felt that, “If you read [the Harry Potter series], it may conjure up evil demons.”
The performers and authors came together for two reasons: to provide an evening filled with glamour and enchantment and to raise awareness of local authors supported by Wordier Than Thou.
Wordier Than Thou, a not-for-profit organization based in St. Petersburg, was founded by Tiffany Razzano. The group raises money in support of local authors and brings awareness to literary works that may not fit the status quo. With the ambitious goal of launching their own publishing arm in 2020, Wordier Than Thou looks to engage the community with various pop-up fundraising events in the future.
“We just like to do ridiculous, fun things that get people excited about reading,” said Razzano. “And not just about reading, but about reading local books by writers in their own community.”
For those who missed this opportunity, there are more extravagant events planned. Wordier Than Thou will be hosting the “Literary Roast of Ernest Hemingway” at The Studio@620 this Friday, Sept. 27. For more information, check out their Facebook page.