Drag Queen Story Hour comes to Epsilon Spires
Emoji Nightmare and Nikki Champagne lead a previous Drag Queen Story Hour.

Drag Queen Story Hour comes to Epsilon Spires

Emoji Nightmare and Nikki Champagne plan ‘fun and sparkly element to story hour’

BRATTLEBORO — Drag performers Emoji Nightmare and Nikki Champagne will read from a selection of children's books, including C is for Country by iconic gay rapper Lil Nas X and Bodies are Cool, an inclusive exploration of body positivity by graphic artist Tyler Feder.

The reading takes place at Epsilon Spires at 190 Main St. on Saturday, Oct. 23, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

“Because of our costumes and personas, we are basically storybook characters come to life,” Emoji said in a news release. “I think it adds a really fun and sparkly element to story hour, and the added layer of LGBTQ representation lets queer families feel welcomed in spaces they may otherwise not.”

While Emoji and Nikki describe their experience running the Vermont chapter of the national Drag Queen Story Hour organization as “a really rewarding venture for us,” the endeavor has not been without controversy.

In 2019, one of their story hours was picked up by Elizabeth Johnston of Ohio, a far-right conservative vlogger who encouraged 700,000 followers of her videos across the country to urge the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier to cancel the program.

Library employees were besieged with threatening messages and phone calls, but the event went on as planned, filling the library beyond capacity with supportive audience members.

“We've repeatedly heard from librarians that our events draw residents of the community that had never attended their events before, and that tells us that offering our program opens doors for them to feel seen and welcomed,” says Emoji.

Emoji and Nikki - who are known together under the pormanteau “Nightpane” - are headline performers at Paint: A Drag Cabaret, described on its website as “Vermont's premier drag experience.” They have also hosted or performed at numerous drag events in the Burlington area, including the Vermont Pride Festival, New Queers Eve, and Glitter & Duct Tape.

Emoji (Justin Marsh), a published author, has served on nonprofit and municipal boards, including the national board of Drag Queen Story Hour. Nikki (Taylor Small), a representative in the Vermont State House for Winooski and Burlington, in 2020 became the first elected transgender representative in Vermont and the fifth in the country.

Drag Queen Story Hour will take place in the Sanctuary of Epsilon Spires. For more information, visit epsilonspires.org.

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