An over the top production that puts the fun in fundraiser
On Sunday October 25, the first annual community charity event of its kind TANTRUMS & TIARAS: Battle of the Bar Queens, will take place at the Birch North Park Theatre. The fundraising goal is ambitious - $50,000. Nonprofit organization Mama’s Kitchen, will benefit from 100% of the proceeds.
At the core of Mama’s Kitchens mission is the belief that critical illness does not discriminate…and neither do they. Since 1990, their volunteers have been delivering three nutritional meals a day, seven days a week - at no charge - to men, women and children living with AIDS or other critical illnesses throughout San Diego County. Earlier this year, on July 15, Mayor Jerry Sanders delivered the five-millionth meal.
“Supporting an organization that does so much to support our community is critical, especially in times like these,” said Chris Shaw, owner of Urban Mo’s, Baja Betty’s and the soon to be opening Gossip Grill.
Promos say TANTRUM & TIARAS is a “Daringly outrageous beauty pageant you have to see to believe! Where else will you get a chance to see a bunch of 'queens' with LITTLE to NO experience in drag, attempting to strut on stage in their highest stilettos without falling over?"
Urban Mo’s General Manager, Matt Ramon would like to point out that this is not a drag show. “It is an over the top production with over the top props; a beauty pageant spoof -complete with swimsuit and talent competition,” he said.
Considering the celebrity judges and production team, it looks like he’s spot on in the assumption.
Celebrity guests Ann Walker and Tammie Brown will participate in the production as part of a panel of ten judges tasked with judging the contestants’ performances.
Ann Walker is currently starring in LOGO TV’s very popular series Sordid Lives- the Series, as LaVonda Dupree; reprising the role she originated in Del Shores’1996 play and 2001 movie by the same name. Her recent portrayal of Odette Annette Barnett, in Southern Baptist Sissies, garnered a Robby Award, a Maddy Award, the prestigious Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, and a nomination for The Ovation Award. L.A. theatre and film goers have also enjoyed her in a variety of other award-winning productions and films.
Tammie Brown (aka Keith Glen Schubert), is a gay American singer, actor and drag performer, perhaps best known for his appearance as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 1. Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Tammie started his auspicious career performing as Cha Cha from the musical “Grease”, and as the Wicked Stepmother in “Into the Woods.” He is a fixture in the Southern California Drag scene.
The remaining judges on the panel are all familiar faces and names in San Diego.
Representing Mama’s Kitchen is Executive Director and 26-year local resident, Alberto Cortés.
Columnist and socialite Barbarella, whose weekly column Diary of a Diva, appears in the San Diego Reader, will be judging alongside Shelly Dunn, a member of 101.5 KGB FM’s popular morning show.
Also part of the panel are Hillcrest Business Association's Executive Director, Benjamin Nicholls; creators of the San Diego-based men’s fashion label RUFSKIN, Hubert Pouches and Douglas Coats; San Diego 6 News in the Morning Reporter Ruben Galvan, and San Diego City Council member Todd Gloria.
Elected on November 4, 2008, councilmember Gloria is a third generation resident of District Three. His roots in the community are deep and his commitment to the community is strong. As a judge, he expects that he will be impressed with the amateur drag queen participants and entertained, along with the rest of the audience.
The responsibility of entertaining the audience will not rest solely on the shoulders of the contestants, lesbian comedian Shann Carr is also making a guest appearance. “She’s witty, she’s wonderful, she’s the gay man’s Wesbian!” raved Elmer Fudd.
With 20 years of stand-up experience at her hip, Carr knows her gay men and they love her. She weaves a storytelling style that makes you feel like you are sitting in your living room with an eccentric friend who has your whole dinner party in stitches. Since 2000, Carr has been the sole lesbian entertainer on over 20 Atlantis cruises.
“That’s right 2,000 gay men… and me…on a boat! My mom was worried sending me out to sea. She consoled herself by guessing that if there were problems, women and children would get off first. I laughed and told her ‘On this trip I think Twinkies and Queens are first. Heck, they’re expecting the dyke to fix the ship before it goes down!’”
Carr promises her finale will blow your socks off when she impersonates people on the dance floor, like “the couple that’s been together too long,” and “the person whom you can tell would be good in bed!”
The Production Team
Prominent public and celebrity figures will also be present backstage.
Highly accredited make-up artist, Brian Bond of Foxxy Roxxy Make-Up and his team will help to ensure every contestant looks their best. Bond has worked in all mediums of make-up, creating a name and style of his own. His portfolio encompasses everything from print and television to red carpet events.
“[The collective effort has been] an awesome and fun experience; there has been a lot of laughing in the process,” adds Ramon. “Everything has been smooth, the bars, the community and Mama’s Kitchen have come to together and there is a new link between us all.”
Contestant and Baja Betty’s bartender, Paco, shares Ramon’s commitment to charity. “[When I was first approached by management to participate in the event] I immediately said yes because the proceeds benefit a good cause.”
Paco’s stage name will be “Anita-Greencard,” and he has been preparing for the talent portion of the competition by watching Mexican soap operas and rehearsing his musical number. “I don’t want to give it all away,” he said, “but I will be singing ‐ with my own voice ‐ one of Madonna’s hits from a humorous Latina perspective.”
The other six contestants are representatives from the pool of event sponsors: David from Urban Mo’s, Jesse from Numbers, Ian from Martinis Above Fourth, Marc Anthony from Bourbon Street, Truc from Universal and Brian from Lips.
Their stage names and talent performances are still a mystery.
Ramon admires the willingness of the contestants and adds, “It takes a lot of acting, personality and guts to do something like this in front of 700 people.”
Paco reiterated the admiration. “[The other contestants and I] are all going to perform well and as individual performers we will all stand out because we are all doing something fun and different. Yes, it’s a competition but for a worthy and charitable cause.”
Mama’s Kitchen provides food, compassion and hope to over 1,500 people annually. Since its inception, they have never turned anyone in need of help away, and they are determined to keep things that way.
A Community Coming Together
In February of 2006, Mama's Kitchen took a big step by expanding its services to people with critical illnesses and not just those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. They have also expanded other services and nutritional programs.
Once a month, since February of 2004, Mama’s Kitchen opens its pantry shelves to those who do not need a home meal delivery but can benefit from a free bag of groceries.
“Mama’s Kitchen makes the most of its volunteer service and donations, but funds are necessary to sustain efforts to support some of our neediest neighbors,” said councilmember Gloria, noting his district’s propensity for producing events in the name of charity.
“Council District Three is the best,” he adds. “The area’s tremendous diversity - economic, ethnic, orientation, religious - has led to a great respect of differences and a sincere willingness to step up and help people. Community involvement and activism aren’t just buzzwords that are spread around in election years, they are ways of life in Council District Three, and I expect the greater San Diego community to come out in force to support Mama’s Kitchen.”
So far, the business community has stepped up to the plate with major sponsorships from corporations like ABSOLUT Vodka and Bud Light, along with many local business owners and entrepreneurs.
Tickets are going fast. Ramon expects that if a sold-out crowd is achieved, TANTRUM & TIARAS will have the potential to exceed the $50,000 fundraising goal.
At the same time, organizers acknowledge TANTRUM & TIARAS is more then just another production in the name of charity. They're hopeful this will be a night to remember for the contestants, the judges and of course, the audience.
In addition to providing cat calls and applause the audience is encouraged to donate in the form of tips. During performances, if you see something you like, crumble up your Washingtons, Hamiltons and Benjamins and toss them on stage. “Cock-ettes” will collect donations from those too shy to toss their money, and donation or not, feel free to yell, clap and give the “GIRLS” standing ovations. (Remember they put a lot of effort and time into making you cry and groan from laughter.)
TANTRUM & TIARAS: Battle of the Bar Queens begins at 7p.m. on Sunday October 25. Tickets range from $35 to $100 and are available at the Birch North Park Theatre box office, Urban Mo’s or on-line at birchnorthparktheatre.net . For more information, call 619.239.8836.