Queens pay tribute to clown prince

Ashley
Ashley Fitzpatrick
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Event raises money for Tommy Sexton Centre

Two figures stood staring at two doors - one door on either side of the wall in front of them. After a brief moment, watching dresses and heels flowing in and out of both doors, one figure turned to the other, picked a door and pointed.

"Does that say, 'Ladies?'"

In the dimmed lighting of the Star of the Sea Hall Saturday night, with drag queens preparing for their dance numbers, confusing the "ladies" and "men's" washrooms was forgivable.

Before a solo performance of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," drag queen Jessica Lopez (stage name) joins in for a group holiday number at the "Ravishing in Red" fundraiser. The event was held at the Star of the Sea Hall Saturday night. Photo by Ashley Fitzpat

Two figures stood staring at two doors - one door on either side of the wall in front of them. After a brief moment, watching dresses and heels flowing in and out of both doors, one figure turned to the other, picked a door and pointed.

"Does that say, 'Ladies?'"

In the dimmed lighting of the Star of the Sea Hall Saturday night, with drag queens preparing for their dance numbers, confusing the "ladies" and "men's" washrooms was forgivable.

Aside from the potential for an innocent mistake, the fundraising event, "Ravishing in Red," was festive and celebratory, drawing in an estimated 100 to 125 people at its peak and raising funds for the Tommy Sexton Centre, operated by the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador. The exact amount raised was unavailable as of press time.

The night featured drag performances, live music from Sharona Clarke and, later, the spins of DJ Frosty. At the centre of the night was a sense of tribute to the comedic work of Newfoundland's clown prince, Tommy Sexton.

Sexton, a member of the CODCO comedy troupe, also advocated for both the gay community and for support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Sexton died following his own battle with HIV/AIDS in 1993.

In his comedic sketches, Sexton often parodied homophobia, through characters such as Mrs. Clarabelle Ollerhead "a long-standing member of C.O.W.S. - Citizens Outraged by Weird Sex." The sketches raised a mirror to prejudicial attitudes within the province.

'Keeps us laughing'

In speaking about Sexton, Betty "Boo" Kakke (also known as David Blundon) noted her appreciation of his work. She told the crowd in attendance that "Ravishing in Red" was an opportunity, "to remember and honour the man who still keeps us laughing."

"This is queens paying tribute to the clown prince," Kakke told The Telegram.

One of the drag queens, Axel Iris, performed to the Tommy Sexton/ Wonderful Grand Band song "Babylon Mall" and, contributing to the Sexton nostalgia, door prizes included Wonderful Grand Band DVDs.

Today, Sexton has been memorialized as the namesake of the Tommy Sexton Centre. The centre provides awareness education and shelter services, and supports those living with HIV/AIDS in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Christopher Pickard, executive director of the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the "Ravishing in Red" fundraiser was raising awareness as well as funds.

"Because people are living longer with medical advances in treatment, I think in some people's minds HIV/AIDS has become a livable illness," Pickard said. "But the challenges are still there."

In the spirit of helping others to face those challenges, Jessica Lopez (requesting her stage name be used) joined on to "Ravishing in Red," performing drag queen group numbers and Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance."

"I want to help out. I love helping people and making people happy," Lopez said.

Event host and organizer Karen Power said the hope is to make "Ravishing in Red" an annual event.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Tommy Sexton Centre, AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments