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I Interviewed The Drag Queen Who Planned Tel Aviv Night at Smokes

Cc 2.0 // Photo by 34th St. Magazine

Big night. I’m backstage with Jen O’side and she is sweating under the lights. Or is it the pressure? A big night like this takes balls to put together, tucked or not. Her makeup is caked and her boobs are fake, and woah is she melting. I don’t know how legitimate her claim is to be here. In this setting of false pretenses, I began my interview. 

“I’m really here to bring the Penn community together over something that you all agree on,” O’side says as she spills some of her $5 vodka cran on her blue and white dress. “It’s pretty simple. First there will be a Jewish comedy night, and then there will be a Tel Aviv Night.” 

I pry her a bit on what exactly Tel Aviv night will entail. “It’s hard to describe. It’s more of a feeling than a place. The drinks will be flowing. I can tell you that for free.” She chuckles. Did she come up with that? At this point, I have not been offered a drink. Then I turn to her and let out a gasp. Her wig is falling. 

“Duh-duh-dum there’s no place I’d rather be,” she sings. It’s the lip sync song tonight, and she’ll be lip sync battling against a brick wall. She tells me that she reached out to Penn Against the Occupation to send a queen for the lipsync, but there was no reply. 

“That’s pretty fair, given the nature of the event,” I finally speak up. 

“I’m not really sure why they asked me to invite them. I don’t know how the two organizations are related,” she bellows. Her eyelashes have both fallen onto her cheeks. I’m starting to have more questions than answers. This is famously not good for an interview. I’m befuddled. 

“No, I’ve never been,” O’side says about Tel Aviv, absentmindedly. “Is that where they filmed the Lion King?”

“Do you mean the live action one? I’m confused.”

“It doesn’t matter,” she grumbles. “Tonight matters. I just need to win.” 

“I don’t think you should be worried about that. Your competition isn’t that steep,” I go out on a limb. This remark was a big mistake.

“There’s no such thing as small roles, only small actors,” she yells. 

I need to cut to the chase. “Do you know about the war?” 

“What war? Oh haha, no baby this is a battle. A lip sync battle,” and with that Jen O’side opens the door of the women's bathroom stall we have been crouching in for the last thirty minutes and rushes on stage.