Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Marina Garçonne is the newest queen to enter the Amherst drag scene

Aidan Sankowsky knew he wanted to do drag after his first show
Marina Garçonne: Courtesy of Aidan Sankowsky

Aidan Sankowsky is your everyday junior computational linguistics major at the University of Massachusetts. But as the night unfolds, enters Marina Garçonne, “a hybrid between the timeless allure of French culture and fashion [and] the cartoonish kawaii of Japanese pop culture [but] most importantly, the manifestation of [his] artistic and feminine childhood pipe dreams.”

Sankowsky’s journey with drag began in his sophomore year after he saw his first drag show at the Marigold Theater in Easthampton. The Muses hosted Magnolia Masquerade, Sankowsky’s now-mentor, and he knew immediately that he wanted to do drag.

Sankowsky has a background in theater and art, painting and drawing since he was younger, hoping these skills would transfer to his newfound drag journey, though that was not the case.

“I started practicing drag makeup in my dorm room and I was terrible,” Sankowsky said.

Despite the initial struggles, Sankowsky spent hours practicing and envisioning what eventually would become Marina Garçonne. Sankowsky speaks both French and English, so he chose Marina since it’s a common name in both languages and felt that it was “beautiful and cute.”

“Garçonne is the feminine version of the word boy in French and means a boyish girl in both languages, which I found fitting,” Sankowsky said.

Sankowsky reached out to Magnolia Masquerade, or Andrew Curran, once he crafted his vision.

“I could see his passion and he was complimenting me relentlessly, [so] I was happy to hear about his drag dreams,” Curran said. “His talent, skill, and dedication was clear right off the bat and it made my heart happy to see him and his inspirations come to life in drag, something I saw myself in.”

When they first met, Curran knew immediately that Sankowsky was an entertainer.

“I would say that [Sankowsky] is a good drag performer because of his look, his character’s story, his ambition to get big ideas done, [while also] helping others with their own ideas and he’ll [always] dance his little heart out.”

Sankowsky first started to acquire clothing and wigs. Balancing drag and his busy lifestyle were hard initially, since he had a challenging major and was working part time, but that didn’t stop him.

“Nothing excites and motivates me more than drag. It’s a creative outlet that keeps me sane and scratches the itch I have for creating art and performing.”

La Maison de Masquerade: Courtesy of Andrew Curran

Under Magnolia Masquerade’s wing, Sankowsky joined his fellow drag sister Misandrie and all three of them formed La Maison de Masquerade, with Marina Garçonne’s debut performance this past January.

Curran described Sankowsky’s journey as “cute.”

“Right out the gate he was fixated on minor details and that hasn’t changed about him, but that’s what makes his image so lovely to look at. His makeup has gone through evolution and that’s because he’s passionate about improving his skills to match his fantasy.”

“I was honored when he first reached out to me, proud to see him execute the finale to my show for his first drag performance, and reassured in the fact that while I hate his guts, he has become an invaluable addition to my life and drag family,” Curran said.

Sankowsky designs and makes everything that he wears, from the custom shoes and corsets, to the tiniest rhinestones.

“I am very particular and hardworking when it comes to drag, spending dozens of hours creating my looks and practicing my numbers,” Sankowsky said.

Marina Garçonne: Courtesy of Aidan Sankowsky

Max Munoz, Sankowky’s boyfriend, thinks that he can do drag professionally in a few years, with more funding, time and resources.

“It’s a wonderful creative outlet for him [and it] makes him very stimulated and happy, so I hope he continues to take it seriously going forward,” Munoz said.

In addition to his performances, Sankowsky does commissions for local kings and queens in the western Massachusetts drag scene.

“I am never more zen and in my element than when I’m sewing, hot gluing, or painting the pieces of a new look,” Sankowsky said.

As for Marina Garçonne’s next performances, you can catch her at the Marigold Theater in Easthampton on Oct. 25 for the Muses: Monster Mash and the UMass Creature Feature drag show on Oct. 28.

Curran said, “He has himself to thank for all the strides he’s made in just a year, because none of it is doable without having a fire in his soul for success.”

If you’re interested in seeing behind-the-scenes content and information on local drag shows, you can follow both Marina Garçonne and Magnolia Masquerade on Instagram.

“Drag is for everyone, anyone can do drag. If you like live performances and accepting, exciting queer spaces, please come out to a drag show, or even try drag for yourself,” Sankowsky said.

Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X  @Mahidhar_sl.

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