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Rainbow Cult To Wong Foo PRIDE Festival: A Recap

The queer cult classic: To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar was an integral part of my childhood as a young gay boy in North Florida. Back then I was so far in the closet I was spooning with the Babadook, but that movie became a huge part of my identity as a gay man. 

This June, Rainbow Cult threw its first-ever PRIDE Festival at Historic Elitch Theatre. The event was billed as a Tribute to Too Wong Foo, and began in the afternoon with a Red and Wild Festival on the grassy lawn, and culminated in the evening with drag shows and a screening of Too Wong Foo in the grandiose theatre. Check out our writeup in WestWord and our news segment on Channel 9 News!

My mind is still reeling from the sheer joy I feel from being able to organize Rainbow Cult’s first official PRIDE event. My fingers are still bleeding from working tirelessly with my Rainbow Coven co-founder Crafty Grant on dresses for the drag queens. And my heart is still full from seeing the event come together as another success to tuck under the Rainbow Cult rhinestone belt. The festival started at 2pm, and featured awesome vendors like Youth PRIDE Coalition/ Public Health Institute at Denver Health, Warne Art LLC , Psilly Spirits, Sixth Senz, Worth The Fight Boxing, Gameday Men's Health Englewood, Maker & Mutt, Ghoul Attic, MDP ArtTiny Tiger Brand, Art by Sally Rock, Cat’s Eye Crystals, and Coven Craft.

Parasol Patrol lovingly generously lent their services to the event, and kept everyone safe. Under the carousel pavilion DJ Buddy Bravo spun a clever mix of high energy gay classics to set the mood, and Grant donned her best strawberry social day-dress and kept everyone entertained as hostess of the afternoon. It was her debut as a Grand Unicorn of Rainbow Cult. Slay.

There were live performances by Telly and Ahjzae Dallas Of Luzid Music Group, choreographed roller skating by Missfitts Entertainment and DJ Buddy Bravo threw an impromptu dance party with folks from the neighborhood. Shifted Lens Theatre Company performed numbers from their upcoming show Cruel Intentions: The 90’s musical and we partnered with Tennyson Street Pride. At 4 PM we joined forces and took part in the parade up Tennyson Street hosted by Call to Arms Brewery

The gays were out in force, and I’m really glad I wore a bedazzled mesh tank top, because it was a real nipple scorcher! Luckily, Historic Elitch Theatre provided refreshments, candy, popcorn, beer, and seltzer in a popup Biergarten. We also had delicious food provided by Maiz Denver, SRYBB Foods, and Moovment Boba Tea trailer, which was basically like a light-up boba spaceship. It was really touching to see so many kids, accompanied by parents who get how important it is for their children to experience PRIDE. It was also really awesome to see so much red in the outfits people wore. They wore red, wild, and everything in between!

A special thanks to our volunteers, Kevin, Brad, Marty, Sam, and Josh. Otherwise known as the League of Extraordinary cis white gays, they sold the hell out of some Rainbow Cult Merch.

At 7 PM, when the sun was still high in the summer sky, we started the main show!

The drag performances were as legendary as Mary Elitch’s feathered wig. Betty Swallows-Alnight did Vida Boheme justice as the graceful hostess with no gag reflex. Geo Conjure dazzled the crowd as Noxema, and jumped off the stage like a giant Simone Biles. Adryanna Staxx was the spitting image of Chi Chi, and just as hilarious. The queens really made the event something to remember.

Speaking of things to remember, the keynote speech by Jessica L’Whor blew my tits across the theatre. It was honest, heartfelt, raw, and truly representative of drag excellence. She spoke about chosen families, and the meaning of PRIDE. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.

Board member Greg Rowley gave a short history of the Historic Elitch Theatre, and went over the illustrious list of performing actors including Miss Julie Newmar herself! There was a talk by our benefiting charity One Colorado and film analysis introduction by founder Professor Andy Might

Then, just when I was about to turn into a pumpkin from lack of sleep, the movie started. To Wong Foo is an important piece of queer cinema because it represents that drag has always been a part of popular culture. Now that it dominates popular culture, the movie has become a celebration of the art of drag. On June 15th, 2024, three hundred loving cultists watched the classic movie together, and made joyful noise.

During intermission we gave away awesome prizes from Rainbow Cult sponsors like Clearlift Laser Treatments by New You Beauty Lab, and tickets to Shout! By Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, Cruel Intentions 90s Musical by Shifted Lens, and speed dating with Denver’s Cupid

A special thank you to our newest Guardian Angel, Keifer Mansfield, Denver Realtor. If you’re in the market for a new place to call home, she’s your man! And thank you to our other summer sponsors, Denver Divers, Rhein Haus, X Bar, Urban Sanctuary, Dazz Media, and Gay Denver. For info on how you too, can become a beloved sponsor of Rainbow Cult, click here.

One of my favorite things about Rainbow Cult movie events is the interaction. We hooted and hollered. Everyone talked and cackled at the screen. It was such a beautiful coming together of queer souls. I sat outside getting to know the queens for most of the movie, and then watched the ending in the back with Grant, as their eyelashes slowly migrated off their face from sleep deprivation. After the movie  the curtain slowly rose, and in iconic poses reminiscent of the movie, the cast invited the audience to an after party on the stage. 

Pictures were taken, memories were made, and wigs were removed. We partied and danced together in celebration of PRIDE.

It was an honor to put on Rainbow Cult’s first official PRIDE event. I feel like Miss Vida Boheme of the Manhattan Bohemes is looking up at us from Gay Hell with a smile on her perfectly beat face. Seeing queer people come together in celebration and defiance is what makes Rainbow Cult so special. If you want to continue the party, check out our two July showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show at Meow Wolf with shadow cast Denver’s Elusive Ingredient and bearded drag legend Enzo Benzo. Just kidding, the first night is already sold out! Get tickets to the second showing HERE.



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