One-of-a-kind car wash serves as fundraiser
Car-washing drag queens made quite the impression Saturday.
Seasoned drag performers joined drag newbies for a car wash at Washington Perk & Provisions on West Acadia Avenue. For a donation of at least $10, the “girls” spruced-up vehicles of all kinds. Donors could also give a little more to have a photo snapped with the drag legends or to receive a PRIDE Winston-Salem decal.
Proceeds from the car wash benefitted PRIDE Winston-Salem. Equality Winston-Salem began holding PRIDE annually in 2011 as a way to celebrate the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The event has become so popular that this summer it split off into its own separate nonprofit group, PRIDE Winston-Salem, that totally devoted to organizing the festivities. This year’s PRIDE parade and festival will be held downtown in October.
The drag queen fundraiser was the brainchild of PRIDE W-S’ Mark Flaherty, who had heard of similar events in other cities. Flaherty – who said he only dresses in drag himself on special occasions – donned a wig and a green dress to clean cars Saturday.
“It’s good clean fun. It’s family friendly; it’s cheap, and it’s for a good cause,” he said. “And who doesn’t like a boy in a dress?”
Judging by Saturday’s turnout, many people share Flaherty’s sentiment. A steady stream of vehicles snaked around Washington Perk and neighboring Swaim’s Grocery – both owned by John and Jayne Johnson – waiting their turns to be beautified by the colorful car washers, who worked to the sounds of the Rose Royce classic “Car Wash” and other upbeat tunes.
Many vehicle owners watched and snapped cell phone images of the unique scene from Washington Perk’s patio. Veteran drag performers like Cherries Jubilee, Kimora DeLa-Diva, Miss Phil Voila and Sierra Jayde Addams took to the sidewalk, dancing, waving to passing drivers and occasionally directing traffic to help drivers make their way out of Washington Perk’s small parking lot.
Andrew Martin, a heterosexual member of the PRIDE W-S board, headed the committee that organized the event. He recruited many of his straight friends to don “uncomfortable” high heels and other drag attire for the occasion and to help wash cars.
“They’re a part of our life; they’re a part of our world, and they’re amazing,” Martin, who became a straight ally after befriending a gay roommate, said about the LGBT community.
PRIDE Winston-Salem is expected to attract a crowd of thousands from across the Triad and beyond and hundreds of vendors and exhibitors. The festival will take place in the Trade Street Arts District from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. Organizers say there will be two stages featuring live musical acts. A parade down Fourth Street will be the signature event. It begins at 11 a.m.
Lead PRIDE W-S Chair Keith Hicks said the parade is a great affirmation for those in the LGBT community.
“I’ve been out for 25 years, for the last 20 I’ve been comfortable in my own skin, but I’ve never felt as comfortable with myself until I walked that corner of that parade,” he said. “It was an amazing change; it made me realize I wanted other people to be able to feel that.”
The next PRIDE W-S fundraiser will be “PRIDE Mixology,” a competition to determine the official cocktail of this year’s PRIDE festival. It will be held Aug. 17 from 7-10 p.m. at the Lake at Lissara in Lewisville.
Learn more about PRIDE W-S at http://pridewinstonsalem.org.