When St. Albert’s Outloud Foundation supporting LGBTQ youth needed a fundraising event, they turned to the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Wild Rose, a group of Edmonton’s flashiest drag artists.
The response was overwhelming. As of last week, the Sovereign Court committed 16 drag kings and queens to sing and swish across the stage in lavish, over-the-top costumes. The Outloud Drag Show Fundraiser takes place Saturday, April 2 at Arden Theatre.
“We provide programs for young kids and youth, and this is a primary fundraising stream to keep our programs afloat,” said Kelsey Robbins, community outreach worker for Outloud Foundation for 2SLGBTQ + Community Supports and Services. She/they added the annual operating budget is $170,000.
The community centre focuses on education, advocacy, and provides referrals to gender-affirming counsellors, said Robbins. It assists a junior group with about 10 to 15 rotating members and a slightly larger youth group with about 15 to 20 members.
“This is a place kids can be themselves without fear or judgment. You can walk in and be respected no matter what you are or what your identity is. It’s a safe place for everyone regardless of who they are and where they come from.”
In addition to supporting kids, youth, and young adults trying to make sense of their sexuality and identity, the centre also hosts two other programs. Outloud Talk is a drop-in chat group for the 18-plus crowd, while PFLAG is a conversation circle where parents and friends meet to share stories and concerns.
While some of the fundraiser’s artistic gender-bending shenanigans are still under wraps, the roster boasts some of the most flamboyant drag personalities in western Canada. The ultra-popular Vanity Fair is one of the Imperial Court’s stand-out candidates, an artist who delivers a different look each time.
Audiences have watched her perform as a busty blonde (Dolly), a sexy redhead (Reba), or a vodka-soaked brunette (Liza). And after each performance, there are always calls for more. On her Facebook page, Vanity describes herself as having, "Class, sass and a padded ass."
“She competed in Alberta’s Next Drag Superstar. She’s stunning. She’s tall. She’s got beautiful big eyes. Her trademark look is very big and bold. Big and bold makeup. Big and bold hair,” said Robbins.
Another enticing personality is pop singer Gabe Itch, winner of the 34th annual Mx. Gay Edmonton Pageant.
“The cool thing about their look is the gender-bending mix of masculine and feminine. It’s really cool to see.”
Lately, one of the more high-profile performers is Ruby Hymen, Miss Gay Regina 2021, and the 41st Empress of the Imperial Sovereign Court.
“She’s also really out there with an eccentric look. She’s very much a performer.”
Thrown into this mix of cheeky costume styles, brassy hair, and varied experiences are two St. Albert celebrities. Angie Hampshire, sales manager for The Gazette, and Rev. Mervin Gallant, pastor of St. Albert United Church, have agreed to dress up in drag for the event.
NDP MLAs Janis Irwin of Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood and St. Albert’s Marie Renaud will add a dose of political stardust as hosts.
The fundraiser also features a 50/50 draw, merchandise table, and silent auction.
The event starts Saturday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arden Theatre, 5 St. Anne Street. Tickets are double tiered — $40 for a single ticket or $60 for a Pride Pack that includes a ticket and a swag bag. Call 780-459-1542 or online at www.stalbert.ca/exp/arden/.