When performance artist Holly Hughesblows into Boulder this Thursday to speak at the Open Door Fund's eighth annual Monsoon Dinner, she'll raise some money -- and maybe a few eyebrows, too.
The feisty Obie Award winner and outspoken lesbian artist created quite a squall in the early '90s when she joined Karen Finley, Tim Miller and John Fleck in initiating a lawsuit to reclaim National Endowment for the Arts grants that had been revoked on the grounds of indecency. Going head-to-head with Senator Jesse Helms, the "NEA Four" prevailed twice in the lower courts before the rulings were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1998. Hughes responded by scripting a performance titled "Preaching to the Perverted," in which little rubber ducks represented the judges, whom she referred to as "the Supremes."
Many of Hughes's pieces are political in nature but softened with sassy humor. "The Lady Dick," "The Well of Horniness" and "Clit Notes" are a few of her controversial but honest conversations about the cultural wars that often present themselves when one is a lesbian, an artist and a woman.
"We are so excited to have had Holly Hughes accept our invitation to speak," says Jo Arnold, an organizer of the Monsoon Dinner, which raises money for gay and lesbian nonprofits. "She's an extremely courageous person who was brave enough to take on the extreme right wing and win."
Hughes, an adamant supporter of the arts and a prominent figure in the GLBT community, has donated her time for the cause.
The evening will also feature silent and live auctions of donated goods, including artwork, area gift certificates and a trip for two to Tuscany.
"The Monsoon Dinner and auction has become the place to be seen in Boulder County in November," says Arnold. "While we probably have more gay people than straight allies in attendance, there will be plenty of people from all walks of life. We are really proud of that." -- Kity Ironton