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Performers wow the crowd at center's variety show
Cleveland--A dazzling line-up of performers kept the crowd at Bounce roaring for the Cleveland LGBT Center’s second annual variety show, benefiting the Metro Youth Outreach program.
The April 19 event featured drag kings and queens, spoken word pieces, stand-up comedy and a strong dose of political and social advocacy.
Host Paco Martinez started the evening off by urging the audience to get informed, to learn about the threats they face and what they can do to help themselves and the greater LGBT community.
Center program director Mika Major pointed out that, perhaps for the first time that anyone in the room had witnessed, she was wearing a skirt and blouse. She referred to her new persona as “a Republican housewife--no offense to any Republicans in the room.”
While seeing Major in a skirt was likely the biggest surprise of the evening, seeing learning and wealth specialist Kevin Barnard as “Gladys White” with executive director Sue Doerfer, director of sponsor and donor relations Mary Zaller and her partner Mary Prevel as the Pips perhaps qualified as the most surreal moment, although the crowd ate it up.
Spoken word pieces by Eris, Boudica and Akeem Rollins all brought thunderous applause, as did the frenetic performance of Mico Chanel.
Performances by the Royal Renegades from Columbus and the Cleveland Kings were obvious audience favorites, as were finance director Cindy Young, youth activity coordinator Christen DuVernay’s alter-ego Hugh Jazz and program advocate Travis Garry’s return as Meokah Diamond.
Jake Nash, executive director of TransFamily, performed as Juana Spanking, dressed by his wife, center board member Erin Nash, bringing gales of laughter from the audience.
Laughter, however, was not the order of the day for Cleveland Kings coordinator Adam Apple’s confessional piece, transcending drag performance and reaching a soul-baring state of vulnerability that had half the room in tears.
As the evening wore on, the crowd increased steadily with the influx of bar patrons there for the regular show. However, one apparently inebriated woman who was anxiously awaiting drag queen Kari Nichols, hostess of Bounce’s Saturday night show, was quickly engaged by the fantastic performances already on stage.
Money littered the stage as people threw singles, fives and tens to the performers, all of which went to Metro Youth Outreach, which provides services and outreach for homeless youth, with an emphasis on LGBT teens.
While last year’s variety show raised about $500 for the program, this year’s installment saw that amount quadruple to over $2,000.
"The Queer Variety Show was a fantastic event,” said Pip and executive director Sue Doerfer. “I think everyone had a great time--I know I did--and we raised money to support essential services for the youth. I can't wait to do it again next year!”