Drag Star Barbara Parkins returns after 16 years to help MCC Richmond
“Say someone within the gay community dies and they don’t have a church home, they always open up for that,” said MCC fundraising coordinator Ricki King. “There’s also an AA group that meets every week, and so many other things I can’t even think of at this time.”
But what do you do when your house of worship is the one that needs help? That’s the issue facing The Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond (MCC) as it sets up to host a benefit drag show on Sunday, March 22nd.
The benefit, which will be held at the Gay Community Center of Richmond, will star drag superstar Barbara Parkins in her first performance in nearly 16 years.
The money raised in the benefit will go towards the $85,000 goal needed to help replace the heating and cooling system within the church.
The MCC has a long history of helping out the LGBT community within Richmond. Be it providing a safe place to worship, fighting for equality laws, or providing a church home for deceased members of the LGBT community, the MCC has always opened its arms.
The MCC has thrown fundraising events in the past, including a fashion show this past fall made up of models from various other churches within the Richmond area – but this new event aims to be one for the books.
“This is the first event we’ve had of this magnitude, as far as a drag show per se,” said King. “But usually we do other types fundraisers. This one is a special event.”
Ray Dull, the street name of drag performer Barbara Parkins, is a long time supporter of the MCC as well as another one of their fundraising coordinators. Dull’s fundraising efforts so far have not involved him donning his drag persona, however, Dull will come out of drag retirement to perform and headline this benefit.
“It’s been 16 years since I’ve performed, and that was a benefit show too,” said Dull. “I’m 64 years-old so this will probably be–this will be–the last time I perform.”
Dull has a long history within the Richmond LGBT community, having helped start up a number of gay-friendly locations, and doing fundraisers for Diversity Thrift, The Richmond/Ermet AIDS foundation, and the Fan Free Clinic.
“Ray is the big draw because he hasn’t performed in a number of years,” said King. “I know people have been asking him to perform, and he’s kind of turned them down. But once he found out what the benefit means for the church, he sort-of just came up with it.”
Dull/Parkins may be the main star of the event, but many other performers are coming from all over the region, with some coming from as far as South Carolina.
The benefit will go to help hold the church over until it receives historical building status in 14 months. For some people, Dull included, helping the keep the church around for it to achieve historical building status is a giant step for the LGBT community.
“The church is one block off of Monument Avenue, and that building is soon to be historical,” said Dull. “It’s probably going to be the closest that we have to a monument on Monument Avenue.”
The benefit will be held at the Gay Community Center of Richmond, with the doors opening at 5:30 on Sunday, March 22nd.
The event will be able to seat up to 500 people, 100 of which will be reserved for VIP ticket holders. The $50 VIP ticket grants the holder access to h’orderves, a private cash bar, and a private room for before the show starts.The remaining seats will be reserved for those who buy tickets ranging from $25, $15, and $10, with descending levels of tiered seating and bar access based on the ticket price.
All of the bars are cash only and will provide mixed beverages, beer, and wine.
Tyler Hammel is a college student who has an unhealthy obsession with comic books. He’s a proud cinephile, owning a sizable film collection that lets you know he doesn't have any friends. An aspiring filmmaker, Tyler currently works with the VCU student organization The Horn RVA, a group of like-minded video journalists with a passion for Richmond based music. When not crafting his own bio Tyler can be found misusing commas,
Ray Boltz came out in 2008 to harsh criticism from a fundamentalist Christian fan base. He shares what he’s learned since then as he prepares for Wednesday night’s performance at MCC Richmond.March 28, 2012
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