Best Drag Queen With a Degree in Quantum Physics

Anita Cocktail

Bud Bradshaw makes an imposing woman. He, er, she, is 300 pounds and nearly seven feet tall in custom-made platform heels and towering wig. But the most unusual thing about Bradshaw is the fact that she, er, he, has a degree in quantum physics. He doesn't much like to talk about that part of his life, though. It was only in the last eight years, he says, since he developed Anita Cocktail, that his life has had purpose. After all, he notes, "A little makeup and paint turns a boy into something he ain't." Bradshaw produces Live, Lip-Sync, & Laffs, a variety/cabaret show at 60 South that includes Ms. Cocktail, Barbie Blake (who can do cartwheels in five-inch stilettos), Starr Masters, Erica Benson, Tatyana Romanov and Ms. Tina Le Grande. He'll introduce a second show, Hell on Heels, at the Denver Buffalo Company soon. Come on out: This show is anything but a drag.
Not content with winning hearts and saving pooches with his appearances on cable TV's Emergency Vets (on Animal Planet), funnyman/animal doc Kevin Fitzgerald stages an irregular (very) variety show that seems to have found a home on major holidays at the Comedy Works in Larimer Square. What's not to love about the Love Show? An evening's lineup always includes a sampling of Fitzgerald's comic antics -- on a recent outing, he sang Doris Day's "Que Sera Sera" backed by the Well Hungarians, and then offered a Michael Flatley tap dancing imitation (wearing see-through tights). After that, he transformed himself into the emcee to introduce a cavalcade of Denver's most unusual performers, including a gaggle of jugglers, a roller-skating bird, a smoking pig and Shelvis, the fabulous female Elvis impersonator. "Denver has a lot of talent out there," Fitzgerald insists. And he's bringing that talent to you, one wacky act after another. Take this doctor's advice: Variety is the spice of life.
Most of the humor on Denver's Channel 8 is inadvertent: It's tough to take those endless city council committee hearings seriously. And while the people featured in @altitude: Life in the Mile High City aren't putting on an act, either, the production team definitely takes an entertainingly skewed view of life in Denver. This is altitude with an attitude. "Our purpose is to make each @altitude show reflect all the diverse energies that make this a great city," says producer Jen Caltrider. "The people, ideas and activities you won't find anywhere else." The monthly show (which is repeated, and repeated, and repeated -- this is Channel 8, after all) is hosted by familiar voices (if not faces) Paula Purifoy and Marcos Fernandez; it's featured a varied lineup in its first few editions, including an homage to Denver's romantic side, a whirlwind tour of the city's museums, and even some talking back to the mayor. Don't touch that dial!
As a youngster, Denise Nickerson participated in projects that have garnered her eternal fame among members of two separate cults: She was in the cast of the 1960s gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, and she co-starred as Violet Beauregarde, the obsessive gum-chewer who turned into a giant blueberry, in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Nickerson subsequently left show business, and in April 2001, she and her son moved to Denver, where she works for an accounting firm. For the most part, she leads a low-key life, but she happily participated in promoting the thirtieth-anniversary DVD of Wonka. Given how star-starved Denver is (why did Gary Coleman ever move away?), it's nice to have her here.

Best Repeat Performance by a Denverite at the Grammys

Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves has definitely found her calling. The jazz diva, who was raised in Denver, won a Grammy Award this year for The Calling -- Celebrating Sarah Vaughn. It was her second consecutive win in the category of Best Jazz Vocal Album; Reeves won the same award the year before for In the Moment -- Live in Concert. Both albums were released on the Blue Note label, and both show off the former University of Colorado student's astonishing vocal range. For fans in Denver and around the world, the Grammy wins strike the right chord.
Twelve-year-old Akil LuQman promises to be a roaring success as an actor. On April 17, the Denver sixth-grader makes his debut as Young Simba in the road show of The Lion King. Catch him while you can.
Although it takes place early this year -- the first three weekends in April -- Silver Plume's annual community melodrama, performed by the Plume Players, should be filled with just as much tiny-town drama as ever. Don't Shoot the Piano Player, a nod to the old mining town's Wild West history, has a cast of ten (approximately 5 percent of the town's population); proceeds go to benefit historic preservation efforts.
The big wheels at Denver International Airport have done plenty wrong over the last year, but here's something they did right: They allowed the International Performance Series to continue inside the airport over the Christmas holidays, despite the post-September 11 security concerns that forced them to cancel it during the Thanksgiving rush. For more than a decade, musicians have roamed the concourses at DIA (and Stapleton Airport before it) during the hectic times of the year, entertaining travelers and easing the minds of anxious or delayed passengers. The variety of performers has been wide, with acts including Banda Felicidada, Camacho-Ransoli, Bill Barwick and Sons of Tumbleweed, and Boxty, a Celtic quartet, as well as city auditor and presumed mayoral candidate Don Mares, who performed as part of a folk duo. The series is managed by Meredith Gabow, who also runs a companion Web site at www.calmthebeast.com. For her dedication, and for DIA's decision to resume the series, we offer a joyful noise.
It's possible that you have to live in Aurora to truly appreciate it, and sometimes even that doesn't work. But how many citizens of Denver's much-maligned suburb to the east actually know anything about the place where they wake up every day and go to sleep every night? Here's a way to learn. Staff members at the Aurora History Museum mined the museum's historical archives to develop a matching game pairing facts on flashcards to photos on a Bingo-style game board. Available for $13.95 at the museum's gift shop, the game might just be the next hot thing for proud Aurorans everywhere. Is it worth it? Bingo!
New York's got a bunch of songs; Chicago's got a few. Hell, even St. Louis has been the subject of a couple of ditties. So why not Broomfield? That's what Phil Long, who grew up in once-sleepy Broomfield, thought when he returned to his now-overgrown hometown after many years on the road as a singer and musician and found it to be almost unrecognizable. So Long, who is 37, wrote down his thoughts for "The Broomfield Song," which he performed in November at a ceremony marking the official beginning of Broomfield County, Colorado's 64th such municipality. "I should have stood the ground, I should have put up a fight," the lyrics read. "But when you've been away so long that you lose your way, I guess you've got nothing to say."

Best Of Denver®

Best Of