The single-digit temperatures on March 3 couldn't keep a crowd from gleefully gathering for the inaugural All-Ages Drag Show at the Mile High Comics Jason Street megastore. Over eighty fans, participants, parents and assorted allies came together to enjoy an inclusive evening of acceptance and support.
Hostess and co-founder Miss Jessica began the night by talking about just that: "Everyone here is gathered together to deliver a bigger, better message. This is only the beginning. We're going to be here the first Sunday of every month for GLBT and queer youth here in Colorado."
The event itself could not have happened without the commitment and support of Mile High Comics founder Chuck Rozanski, who appeared and performed as Bettie Pages. Pages almost missed her appearance as the show opener; traveling back to Denver from California, she'd been delayed by the weather. She was grateful to have made it to the festivities.
"This isn't just me," she told the supportive crowd. "This is from all the employees of Mile High Comics. One hundred cents of every dollar is being contributed to the cause."
That cause is the White Rose Scholarship Foundation — a program of the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire that has awarded over $285,000 in scholarships to deserving applicants in order to support their dreams of higher education. Annual disbursements have averaged $15,000 over the past decade, and Mile High Comics has promised to donate a minimum of $1,000 in honor of every show — plus any revenue raised by the event itself, where participants are asked for an at-the-door donation of $5.
The event is also supported by local businesses, most notably Hamburger Mary's, which provided the food free of charge. One of Hamburger Mary's owners, Christopher Maluck, was on hand; he says the restaurant's support will continue. This round it was sloppy joes and homemade chips; next time might be a taco bar. "We'll keep changing it up," Maluck promised.
Eleven performers lent their talents to the opening night show, strutting their stuff to songs that ranged from "Born This Way" to "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" — including, appropriately enough for a drag show at one of the most famous comic book stores in America, a medley of songs featured in the Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy.
Bettie Pages began the show with Duffy's "Mercy"; she was followed by Tommie Doll, Emma Steele, Shanelle Kartrashian, Sarah Bellum, Kitty Blue, Minerva, Hairyjuku, Lenny and Chase Steele. Some performers were veterans of the runway; others were kids having fun. All, according to a mom in the audience, were "just super-fabulous. I'm so grateful this is here for kids and families. It's amazing."
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Which is exactly what Bettie Pages intended. "We want to create a place for kids and families to come and show them that there's support here, here in Denver, here at Mile High Comics," she explains. "That there's a place for them. That's so important. That's so important to me."
Pages promises to continue the event the first Sunday evening of every month.
"This is all about you," she told the crowd. "That you matter. This is your house now."
The All-Ages Drag Show at Mile High Comics happens on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, watch the Mile High Comics Facebook page.