By Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
Solana Beach filled with pride as 550 people filled the Belly Up to support the North County LGBTQ Resource Center for Drag Takeover, the first drag show in the Belly Up’s 45 years of history on May 14. This sold out performance raised $12,000 as everyone came to see RuPaul’s Drag Race All Star winner Chad Michaels and San Diego Drag All Stars. Crowded from wall to wall, the night filled with cheers as San Diego’s local divas strutted the stage with one knockout performance after another. And all of it supported the Center and its upcoming Pride by the Beach on Oct. 12. This event was organized by Pride by the Beach, a program on the Center through the leadership of Wil Fisher as chair of the event, and Pride Director Lisa Nava.
Inspired by drag, Bella Lux Entertainment stomped the stage with creative choreography, and some slick moves that primed the audience for what was coming next.
Nina Bel Vande showed everyone the true artistry of burlesque. With a seamless performance, her bopping, shimmies, grinds, and spins, she eloquently strutted her way on the stage. Clearly, she was mesmerizing.
The fabulously funny Mariam T brought the tea party with her this time and had the audience cheering as she belted Mariah Carey’s “Emotions” with some of her emotional outbursts finding their way in the song that turned cheers into laughter. Her inclusions of Sally Field’s emotional breakdown in “Steel Magnolias” were superb as she left the stage and broke down in the middle of the crowd.
Coco Chanel! Everybody needs to watch you take down Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” and the Postmodern Jukebox/Morgan James version is the way to slay the stage. It was more than just heart and soul, it was a soul with heart, captivating from the first note to the last. Stellar performance!
As the show never stopped, you could clearly see the hard work of the volunteers doing what they do best to keep the momentum going. And it did just that. Performance after performance, it was hard to catch your breath as these divas dived into the audience who were constantly begging for more. The Belly Up will never be the same again.
In the spirit of Chad Michael’s Cher persona, Kickxy Vixen-Styles nailed Christina Aguilera’s “I’m a Good Girl” from “Burlesque” in both looks and performance. Simply beautiful, amazing and professional. Kickxy never leaves anyone wanting when she hits the stage.
Just coming off of a European tour, Chad Michaels showed North County that it is his home and he is there to stay. The excitement of staging this spectacular display, worthy of queens, was evident in the pride of his talking about home, his family, and his LGBTQ family.
And Cher did not disappoint. She showed why there is no doubt Michaels is in the top of the list as a Cher impersonator. In full burlesque fashion, “Welcome to Burlesque” was chic. Later in the show, he channeled the “Mama Mia” Cher, capturing the look, style and sleek class with “Fernando.”
Absolutely a spotlight in the night and it’s no wonder that Michaels is a draw for people of all ages. But in no way does he steal the spotlight. He shares it with the marvelous entertainers that surround him. And the talent was limitless with Lolita Von Tease, Strawberry Corncake, Keex Rose, Loya Vixen and Riena Shine bringing their personal versions of the best of drag to this fabulous show. I’m pretty sure they met their goal, as many of us left, wanting more and believing that we had witnesses a little piece of “queer history” in our own community.
Wil Fisher, aka Sylvia London, our hostess (and producer) of the night said that he supports the Center because he knows how challenging it was growing up gay in Encinitas. With his history of large event fundraising and drag, he said, “This seemed like a good way to use both of those skills and experiences.”
Fisher said many people were moved by the visibility in North County. One guest emailed him after the event.
“I have to say that as a 41-year long resident of North County, I cried when everything was taking place. Cries of pride and happiness. We have come a long way due to people like yourself.”
Fisher said the Belly Up could not have been happier with the event and is ready to have them back next year for what promises to be another sold out event.
North County LGBTQ Resource Center Executive Director Max Disposti said the event was a historic success with the first drag show or queer event being completely sold out at the Belly Up. Disposti said the event netted $10,000 for Pride by the Beach and the Center’s programming, specifically bringing pride visibility to North County and sustaining Unicorn Homes, a program that supports local queer and homeless LGBT youth.
For more information about the North County LGBTQ Resource Center and the programs it offers, visit ncresourcecenter.org.
— Albert Fulcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.