Every time I attend a concert by the Heartland Men’s Chorus, I come away with the feeling that I have witnessed the group’s best effort ever. The June 10 production of The Pink Carpet was no exception. This wonderful excursion into the world of gay Hollywood as narrated by the one and only Leslie Jordan, held the audience in awe for more than two hours. Leslie was captivating as he was wheeled onto the stage in various costumes appropriate to the song to be performed by the chorus. When he emerged from a sleeping bag that contained his hunky escort to introduce Brokeback Mountain, I lost it! I understand that Leslie has been asked back in October to perform at the Dinner of Note fund raiser for the chorus, and I would urge all my readers to try to secure a ticket to what will certainly be a sellout show. Sadly, the season has come to an end, and we will have to wait for the Christmas concerts to see the full chorus assembled again.
As a thank-you treat for the Pride committee, John Koop assembled his key players for an evening at The Grille on Broadway Restaurant. Koop was also repaying the restaurant for its kind generosity in offering a free appetizer coupon to all those who contributed money to see the quilt on display at the Pride Festival. Koop also told me that although the Pride Festival did lose money this year, he considered it the best event yet. He said they may have to charge an entrance fee next year, and to that I can only say, “It is about time!” I for one am fully prepared to pay a fee to see Pride continue to bring these top-flight entertainers to Kansas City. Kudos again go out to the Pride committee for making it happen this year and the best of luck for next year.
I had the distinct privilege on Saturday, June 16, to have been invited to attend the gourmet dinner Under the Tuscan Moon presented by the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ as a benefit for Good Samaritan Project. It is my understanding that the congregation has been staging this annual event for the last eight years and every year is a sellout. I can understand why, as it seems like the entire membership of the church participated and turned a plain multipurpose room into a quaint Italian village, complete with dance floor and Tuscan moon. My good friend Jimmy Woodcock, director of Good Samaritan Project, was the perfect host at our table and even dressed for the part as a Tuscan peasant. The six-course meal was absolutely to die for, and the entertainment showcasing the talents of the church choir members put a wonderful spin on the evening. Thanks again, Jimmy, for inviting me, and please don’t forget me next year.
ACTUALLY CAMPING OUT FOR A DAY
The next day, Sunday, I packed up my boyfriend Jason, my best friend Stevie and his little doggie Kato and headed for a day of “roughing it” at Clinton Lake just west of Lawrence, Kan. I had never been to this lake and was pleasantly surprised to find a picturesque setting complete with rolling hillside and forests. My good friends Mark and Vicki welcomed us to their campsite on a bluff high above the pristine lake. Now when I say roughing it, I didn’t expect to find tents for everyone including their two dogs! A fully stocked kitchen and air-conditioned tent led me to believe this camping out thing might not be too hard to take even for this old retired actress! We were celebrating both Father’s Day and Mark’s 40-something birthday. My thanks to Mark and Vicki for not only hosting this campout, but also cooking up one hell of a feast.
Although this is technically not camping out, I did spend some time June 21 at the sprawling Sprint-Nextel campus in Overland Park for the first LGBT Diversity Fair, held in the Wintergarden Pavilion. One of the organizers, Nicole K., told me that the organization now boasts more than 400 members and has a goal of topping 600 members before year’s end. Many of the local LGBT organizations and businesses were in attendance, and the Heartland Men’s Chorus and Nancy Nail performed brilliantly during the festivities. I also understand that this is the first time that the rainbow flag has flown over the Sprint-Nextel campus. My congratulations go out to all the participants.
To round out my experiences for June, I was privileged to attend the second annual swimsuit fashion show staged as a benefit for the KC Anti-Violence Project and the KC Waves Swim Team, shown in this next picture as they prepared for their debut onstage at bar Natasha. (see photo) What a delicious assortment of male pulchritude was paraded in front of the adoring attendees. These boys made me so nervous that, as I returned to my seat, I forgot that I had left my drink there and sat right on it, spilling the contents everywhere. I certainly hope that this event raised a lot of money for the deserving organizations so that I can anticipate next year’s fashion show.
CHANGES AROUND TOWN
I found out some somewhat disturbing news this week in an e-mail from my good friend Andrew G, better known to his many Sidekicks fans as Mandy Barbarell. Mandy will perform for the last time July 27 as she is hanging up her sequined boots and blond wig. Over the years, who has not been entertained by this schoolmarm by day, country-western diva by night. Mandy is one of the primary forces behind the Missouri Gay Rodeo Association rodeo each year, and the money she has raised would certainly contribute to make any of us wealthy. I will miss the “transvestigator” shows at Sidekicks every week. I hope that Andrew will consider an occasional command performance, as we will all miss his many talents.
On another note, we are also losing one of Missie B’s long-standing security guards. Troy, a.k.a. The Sheriff, will be taking leave of this city and heading to Dallas on July 5. Troy has not only kept us safe at Missie B’s, but he has also been my renter for the last three years. He will be sorely missed. We wish him the best as he rejoins his family and begins a new career in Dallas. Missie B’s is also bidding farewell to its popular DJ/ performer Daniel Weaver, a.k.a. Sasha DeNiro, as he will be heading to Atlanta to begin a career with Delta Airlines.
Sadly, the LGBT community has also lost a familiar fixture to the bar scene, Don Spence, who passed away June 11. Don’s bartending career spanned three decades, starting at Club Cabaret, Changes, Taps and finally Sidekicks saloon. He was an occasional performer, as was I, with a group called The Kansas City Trollops. This group of “skag-draggers” raised a lot of money for AIDS causes in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to hear all the wonderful stories that this man could spin on a slow afternoon at the bar. Don, we will miss you.
FUTURE HAPPENINGS AROUND TOWN
KC Pride Democratic Club will be holding its third annual Wine and Cheese Auction on July 21 at the Screenland Theater in the Crossroads District. This is a great opportunity to contribute to a just cause and also experience the Screenland Theater with its unique lobby and comfortable lounge chair seating. You may have a tough decision for the 21st as that is also the evening of the Zoey Awards, to be held at the Athenaeum Club on Linwood Boulevard. Hopefully, we can time things so as not to miss
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