Taking the Stage

Benefit event for Club Q staff and performers marks a return to drag for some local queens.
News  /  Village

Courtesy Purple Mountain Recovery and Colorado Psych Clinic

Evening event & drag show

Luxe Daiquiri Lounge
Friday, Jan. 13, 7-11 p.m.
2945 Galley Road
Tickets: $10-30

Wyatt Kent, also known by his drag name Potted Plant, says it’s been difficult to return to the local drag scene since the Club Q attack on Nov. 19, despite it being his primary source of income these days.

Kent, a regular onstage at the LGBTQ club on North Academy Boulevard, was set to perform that night, when a gunman opened fire and killed five people in a suspected hate crime against the Colorado Springs queer community. Kent’s soon-to-be-fiancé and a bartender at the club, Daniel Aston, was killed in the attack, along with Kelly Loving, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance.

When he got home that night, Kent says he showered, washed off his full-face makeup and took more than a monthlong break from drag, as he coped with Aston’s death and trauma from the attack. During recent benefit events for other Club Q performers, staff and victims, he’s opted to read Aston’s poetry and tell his story, instead of performing, Kent says.

“I was just really nervous as to what looking back at myself in the mirror in full drag would be like,” he says.

Potted Plant, a Springs-based drag queen, will perform at “A Night of 1000 Hugs” on Jan. 13. Photo By Cory Baker.

But on Jan. 13, Potted Plant will make one of her first appearances back onstage for “A Night of 1000 Hugs,” a two-part charity event and drag show in the Springs to support Club Q staff and performers. The event will feature some of the biggest names in drag locally and nationwide, plus Emmy-winning reality television star Carson Kressley, who’s best known for his role on the original Queer Eye.

The event starts with an intimate meet-and-greet at Skin Perfect Aesthetics & Wellness on Saint Vrain Street with Kressley and nationally renowned drag queens DeJa Skye (who competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race last year) and Axel Andrews. It will be followed by an evening of appearances and performances by Kressley, Andrews, Skye and a slate of local drag and burlesque artists at Luxe Daiquiri Lounge on Galley Road. The show will be hosted by Hysteria Brooks and Las Vegas-based Lady Fabeilla.

“It’s unbelievable how it’s taken off.”
— Scott Mosher

Ticket proceeds — the meet-and-greet and show are being sold separately — will go directly to performers and other staff who worked at Club Q, which has been closed since the shooting, says organizer Scott Mosher, founder and CEO of Purple Mountain Recovery, an LGBTQ-focused mental health and substance abuse support nonprofit based in the Springs.

Mosher is also program director for Colorado Psych Clinic on North Nevada Avenue, which offers psychiatric care, therapy and peer support, and he has a background in fundraising and organizing drag shows in Las Vegas.

There will also be a raffle of high-value items and services donated by businesses at the evening show, with prizes like a one-year membership to Skin Perfect, a basket of products from Swiss Navy, an international sexual wellness brand, worth about $1,000 and one from Denver Needz worth $700, he says.

Ellen Friedman, regional director of sales, marketing and events for Swiss Navy, says the brand will often step in and sponsor events or donate items to support the LGBTQ community nationwide. They did so after the 2016 massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman killed 49 people at the gay club, including a friend’s husband, she says.

Friedman’s wife, Jennifer Warner, who’s an ambassador for the company, is also a drag performer and stand-up comedian and has performed at Club Q before — so she made the connection to get Swiss Navy involved in A Night of 1000 Hugs.

“It really hit hard,” Warner says of the Club Q shooting. “I told my wife, ‘I could have been there.’

“The random acts of violence are not so random anymore.”

As for the big-time performers, Mosher says he originally reached out to Skye’s booking company, and she volunteered to make an appearance in the Springs. Then Kressley’s publicist called, asking if he could join, too.

“It’s unbelievable how it’s taken off,” Mosher says. “It’s just pretty amazing they’re donating their time.

“Axel Andrews was actually at Pulse that night as well, when the shooting happened,” he adds. “He reached out to come out as well.”

The main goal of the event is to get cash to Club Q workers and performers. They “are really struggling,” Mosher says, both with finding new jobs, and with “the trauma of going back to work in that environment,” after being rocked by the shooting.

“Just walking into a bar brings up all the anxiousness and nerves,” he says. “Being able to provide that help to them is our top priority.”

Kent says that he knows many local performers who no longer “feel comfortable going out in drag just to go bar-hopping anymore, because there’s no designated queer space” in the Springs. Club Q, he says, was that space.

He hopes the Jan. 13 event will be a step toward rebuilding that space and Club Q’s legacy as a stop for famous drag performers around the country.

Potted Plant will be retaking the stage in memory of “our boys” — Aston and Rump, who was also a Club Q bartender, and Loving, Vance and Paugh, Kent says.

“Those two boys were the backbone of our club, and for the last two years — I mean, God, for Derrick, the last six — [they] were the backbone of our queer community, basically,” Kent says. “We’re going to keep uplifting those names. We’re stepping out on those stages. We’re bucking; we’re kicking; we’re splitting — but we’re doing it all for our boys.”

A Night of 1000 Hugs

Meet & Greet

Skin Perfect Aesthetics & Wellness
Friday, Jan. 13, 5-6 p.m.
108 E. St. Vrain St., #11
Tickets: $75

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