One of the cool things about Ypsi is that you can count on people to rally to a good cause. In the coming weeks, for instance, there are going to be a few local fundraisers for our friends at Ozone House, who, as you might recall, just announced recently that, due to decreased grant funding, they were going to have to start scaling back their services for local at-risk youth. In a few weeks, there’s going to be a big event at Community Records, featuring the likes of MC Kadence, and, tomorrow night, there’s going to be a benefit drag show in Depot Town. That event, called Love is a Drag, is set to begin at 10:00 PM at Frenchie’s. (Doors open at 9:30 PM, and the suggested donation at the door is $5.00.) I had the opportunity this evening to ask one of the drag queens participating in the event, Miss Chanel Hunter, a few questions. Here are her responses.
MARK: So, if it wouldn’t be giving too much away, could you tell us what you have planned for the event? I’m particularly interested in how you plan to make things work in Freichie’s, given the layout of the space.
CHANEL: Well I’ve been in this business for 10 years, and I plan on giving the audience that shows up nothing less then a FUN, FREINDLY show… We are entertainers and that is what we strive to do – ENTERTAIN! I am so excited to have built this partnership with Jessica (French) and the team at the Sidetrack. The space is kinda small, but we’ve worked out where the entertainers will perform, where we’ll have the seating area, and where people can stand… This being our first show, we’ll learn what works and what we can improve on, so that the next event that we do will be even more amazing for everyone!
MARK: What’s the status of the drag scene in SE Michigan? My experience is limited to Elbow Deep, but, judging from the attendance the last few times, I’d say that there’s a pretty big audience for drag in this part of the state.
CHANEL: You’re right. There’s an audience. Elbow Deep is the only ongoing event where drag can be seen monthly, though. There’s a real need for some diversity in our community as far as entertainment goes… People speak volumes by showing up for Elbow Deep regularly, and we hope to give them another outlet for this kind of entertainment as well….
MARK: Who will you have joining you on Friday?
CHANEL: When selecting the cast I really wanted to include my local sister Jaden Black who is a native of Ypsilanti and attends EMU. She is a fierce entertainer who placed in the top ten at nationals last year and will bring an amazing show. Dazzle Dior is from Jackson, and she’s an up-and-coming queen. She’s high-energy and always puts on a great show. I am excited that both gals have gotten behind this show and look forward to a great night.
MARK: Why is it important to support Ozone? Have you have personal interaction with them in the past?
CHANEL: We support Ozone House because of the vital role they play in the Ypsi community. Their Queer Zone and other teen programs help kids in a way very few organizations do. I personally have not had interaction with them, but I was very excited when Jessica suggested the partnership. She heard about how their budget was slashed and wanted to do something to help out… I am excited to be involved in supporting a great organization. I hope this event helps Ozone House, and am proud to be support such an awesome cause. We are expecting to reach capacity and really look forward to seeing everyone out tomorrow night. Look out Ypsi- Love is a Drag is going to ROCK OUT!!
I wasn’t aware of the fact when I submitted my questions, but it seems pretty clear from Miss Hunter’s answers that this isn’t a one-time deal, but something that they plan to continue in the future. I’ll be curious to see how it plays out, and whether Depot Town is big enough to support two drag troops… If I had the time, energy, and money, I’d hire a crew and start shooting video tonight. I can’t imagine a better premise for a reality television program than two competing crews of drag queens going head-to-head in a small, struggling, midwestern town, against a backdrop of antique shops, decommissioned factories, and historic cars.
For more on Ozone House, and their programs for at-risk youth, you can check out my interview with Quinn Phillips, one of the individuals behind their Queer Zone program, here. And, if you’d like to donate to Ozone directly, you can do that by clicking here.