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Briceson Ducharme on The Apocalyptic Ball and living with HIV

Tomorrow night, Ginger Sexton and the Sexton drag empire take over the Gothic Theatre for the second annual Apocalyptic Ball, a celebration of life and a fundraiser for the Colorado AIDS Walk. Sexton -- who by day is known as make-up artist Briceson Ducharme -- started up the variety showcase last year, motivated by his own life as an HIV-positive individual. Setting the regularly running Drama Drag stage on fire earlier this summer with his startling performance to the tune of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep," Ducharme promises to up the ante with this night of fun and awareness. The every-boy candidly shared with us his personal motivation behind the Apocalyptic Ball, and why he's forever in a state of growth and change.

Westword: What all is entailed in this year's Apocalyptic Ball?

Briceson Ducharme: We're now in our second year, and it's kind of a big mish-mash of performances -- I've got drag, burlesque, pole-dancing, fashion and more coming to the stage. It is a celebration (of those living with) HIV and AIDS, and its goal is to raise as much money as we can for the Colorado AIDS Walk. Last year we raised over $17,000; this year we are going for $25,000. The company that I work for -- though I cannot name them specifically -- matches what we raise by one hundred percent.

The ball this year is masquerade themed, and we're decorating based on the colors of Mardi Gras -- deep purple, black, green and gold. If you have a mask, we encourage you to please wear it! We will also be making masks at the ball and selling them, with the money going to the cause. It is a very involved show and truly a huge production. I'm pulling my hair out right now trying to get everything together, but I know it will happen. It always does [Laughs].

How did you come up with the concept for this event?

I organized it last year, and this year, too, I'm doing everything to bring the ball together. It is definitely my baby. My goal is to do it for seven years, and after that, I want to find something new. I chose seven because, when a person finds out that they are HIV-positive -- at least my own experience of being diagnosed -- it almost feels like you go through the seven signs of grieving a death.

Every year of the ball, we will go through the twist and turns I went through and my friends' struggles with finding out they were HIV-positive. That's why there is such a personal connection for me with this event. More than most people would like to admit. But I'm am open book -- I don't care [Laughs].

It sounds like a very personal experience -- Why did you choose to share it so publicly?

I found out I was HIV-Positive seven years ago -- I know, this seven-seven-seven stuff is crazy! -- and I had witnessed a friend die of AIDS a year prior to this. It was a crazy experience for me. I mean, I was Miss Gay Pride Colorado and I had done charity work, mostly with HIV and AIDS, so I knew a lot of friends affected by it.

After finding out, I went through a dark period in my life, and that was where the idea of last year's ball came from; I chose "apocalyptic" as the theme because I think you can feel dead, in a way. You have to change everything about yourself and your feelings about life. Once I got out of my little funk, I decided that I was going to make a difference. No matter what it was, little or big, I was going to do it. And the Apocalyptic Ball was born.

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