This weekend we met someone who goes by the name of Lady Poodle, which, for us, means the weekend was a success. And that the Charleston Pride festival was back.
Making its way downtown for the first time in its four years, the festival gave us a weekend full of events on the peninsula.
Starting bright and early on Saturday morning, we moseyed down to King Street for the Pride Parade. Thankfully the streets, while not packed, had a decent amount of people watching and cheering on the floats. Ranging from churches to the V.A. to Pet Helpers and bars, the participants were all there to share some love and show their acceptance.
The Lowcountry Highrollers let people know what they were proud of, with signs ranging from the sentimental to the funny to the truthful, like the “proud to be awake” sign holder. We couldn’t agree more.
After the parade, the merry masses headed to Brittlebank Park for the rally. The rain cleared out some of the crowd, but vendors, food trucks, and ICEBOX were on site helping revelers to keep up the party spirit as they took to the open space for some mingling and frisbee playing. We made our way through the shirtless crowd — seriously, there were so many shirtless men — and found Adam Douglas Perez in a crowd of admiring fans. He was dressed to the nines, with fishnets and heels that hurt our ankles just looking at them. Appearing early in the day on the Joe Pasta float in a wedding dress, he had changed into something more celebratory.
And then we saw the cross. Yes, as in a Jesus-died-on-a-cross cross. Hesitantly, we approached the man standing under the cross that simply said “God is Love,” not sure if we would get a Westboro Baptist Church type reception. Thankfully, we did not. Dennis Dorion was there to share the message that God loves all. He also seemed to attract a lot of attention with many people gathering around him, some hostile and fearful of what his presence meant and others purely inquisitive. After speaking with Dorion, most everyone seemed relieved and thankful that he was there preaching love and acceptance.
We didn’t have much time to sit and chat since the Emperor and Empress of Charleston Pride were about to take the stage. Oliver Fox, the emperor, was first up along with his J-Squad, or two adorable, pint-sized back-up dancers. After belting it out to some Bieber, the crowd requested an encore. The performers obliged, but Fox let his squad take center stage as they seemed to be the better improvisers. Empress Melody Lucas followed with a performance of Emeli Sandé’s “Next to Me.” We managed to grab a quick word, but the heat seemed to be taking its toll as she wanted to find some AC. “I’m melting” were her exact words. So were we.
That night we headed to Compass, the official after-party at the Music Farm. And a party it was. The bar was packed, the dancers were bringing it, and the music was blasting. There were even some dancers on stage breaking it down (our personal fave was Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know”). Which is where we found Lady Poodle. After being ushered off the stage to make room for Spikey Van Dykey, we stalked Lady Poodle down. He gave us some great dance tips (“You just have to feel the music, feel the passion,” and he was definitely feeling it) but then he got caught up in the music and shimmied away.
Spikey Van Dykey took the stage and was on fire. Almost literally. Sparks flew as she took a saw to her belt and the crowd was definitely into it. She set the stage for Detox, from RuPaul’s Drag Race, who did a mannequin-inspired dance number.
Sunday afternoon we hit up the Brunch is a Drag show at Joe Pasta. The event, which happens on the first Sunday of every month, features performances from a number of different queens and kings. At this one, the Emperor and Empress of Pride were back for one last performance — as well as Miss Patti O’Furniture, Santana Daisy, Savannah Daisy, and Miss Black America Misha Paris. Dollar bills were thrown, classic TV theme songs were lip-synched, and eyelashes were abundant. As the bar ran out of booze — “That’s what gays do” explained Santana Daisy — we realized the brunch summed up the weekend: alcohol and drag queens and kings.