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‘Queen City Cotillion’ comes to Charlotte
RAIN setting their sights on drag ball as next big fundraiser

by Mark Smith
Queen City Debutantes



It is — in some ways — reminiscent of urban voguing balls popular with the African-American gay community. Inspired by a successful nine-year-old Atlanta AIDS fundraising party, it’s called the Queen City Cotillion (QCQ) and it’s headed your way Nov. 18 at the Charlotte Women’s Club.

Some of you are probably scratching your head about now and asking, “What is it?” In case you’re not a female from a wealthy family with roots stretching deeply into the local culture — let’s start with the basics:

Cotillion [kuh-til-yuhn]
noun 1: a ball at which debutantes are presented to society.
debutante [deb-yoo-tahnt]
noun 1: a young woman making a debut into society.

After the rousing success of Charlotte’s Drag Bingo, which served as a fundraiser for Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN), organizers and volunteers at RAIN are hoping to recapture that glory with Queen City Cotillion serving as a new fundraiser.
“It’s certainly been successful in Atlanta,” says Nathan Smith, Manager of Community Resources for RAIN.

So here’s the lowdown on QCQ:

A group of men from Charlotte’s gay community have been selected to participate as debutantes in a fundraising competition to benefit RAIN.

Throughout October and leading up to the main event, each debutante will host one or more parties.

After weeks of creative fundraising, the Queen City Cotillion social season will culminate in the lively and entertaining Queen City Cotillion Ball where the debutantes are presented to society and their fundraising successes are celebrated. As the highlight of the evening, the debutante who has raised the most money for RAIN is crowned Queen of the Queen City Cotillion Ball.

RAIN and Smith are confident that the event will become a yearly one.

The four men taking part in QCQ as debutantes will appear at the events in full drag. In fact, they’ve gone to extensive lengths to create total comedic female personas.
“One man is from Winston-Salem, and the other three are from Charlotte,” Smith explains. “They’ve all been extensively involved with RAIN fundraising in the past.”
Winston-Salem resident Steve McGinnis just retired from the Forsyth County school system. Heavily involved in RAIN’s Bingo fundraiser, McGinnis made the trek to Charlotte religiously for the monthly event.

He created the deb persona of “Iona Trailer,” a southern gothic belle steeped heavily in religion, misfortune and trailer park culture. As Trailer, McGinnis will host the first QCQ party Oct. 7 in the Sycamore Ballroom of the Hawthorne Inn at 420 High St., in Winston-Salem. Touted as “Iona Trailer’s Park Party,” the event kicks off at 8 p.m. and includes a one-man show called “The Judy Show” by Michael Holmes, who’s known for the multiple entertainers he impersonates.

At press time the remaining debutante’s pre-party information was not completely confirmed — though details will be forthcoming on the website (www.queencity
cotillion.org) and in Q-Notes’ Out and About calendar.

As for the other debutantes, Information Technology Specialist Brad Platt channels the personality of “Miss Patsy O’Ramsey,” the daughter of a wealthy Irish woman who fell upon hard times after a late night of drunken debauchery that her left her with Patsy and without an inheritance.

Consulting Company owner Tracy Russ doubles as “Miss Bunny Velveeta,” described as an “entertainer/performer/poet and diplomat, who hails from the Queen City, where she continues to write, review scripts and work with protege and singer/performer Cher, on plans for her eighth Farewell Tour.”

A registered nurse working in hospital management, Woody Brown has taken on the personality of “Miss Anita Ballantyne Plantation,” the daughter of a once-wealthy and prominent Charlotte family that was forced to sell their palatial home to keep up with Anita’s addictive shopping habits.

According to Smith, RAIN and this year’s debutantes will be responsible for picking their successors for next year and additional debs who will take part.

The main event and publicized pre-parties are open to the public. If you’re interested in getting to know more about the eclectic personalities McGinnis, Platt, Holmes and Brown have created, visit the website and click on “2006 Debutante Class.”

To make a donation to RAIN through the auspices of your favorite deb, click on “top fundraiser.”

info: November 18 . Queen City Cotillion
Cocktail reception and Silent Auction, 7–8:30 p.m.
Debutante presentation, 8:30–9 p.m.
Musical performance by pop and R&B artist Charles, 9 p.m.
Crowning of the Queen, 10–10:30 p.m.
Charlotte Women’s Club, 1001 E. Morehead St.
704-372-7246, ext. 161

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