While the words "benefit dinner" might conjure up memories of stuffy tuxedos, rubber chicken and boring silent auctions, the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network's annual Turnabout for TIHAN benefit is more like a party extravaganza where Mardi Gras meets Gay Pride Week.
"Turnabout" refers to males turning into women (or vice versa) for the drag show, the main entertainment of the night. These brave drag queens are local bar staffers whose friends have raised and donated money to cover all of the expenses of becoming a truly fabulous drag queen (or king). There are 18 numbers slated to be in the show, with participants coming from Colors, Howl at the Moon, IBT's, Woody's and the Yard Dog Saloon.
The emcees of the night will be "professional" drag queens Lucinda Holliday and Barbra Seville.
The evening's theme is "Stonewall Riot," a tribute to the 1969 riot at the LGBT-friendly Stonewall Inn bar in New York City. After patrons were repeatedly harassed by cops, "they got pissed off and drove (the cops) out of the bar, and a riot followed," said Scott Blades of TIHAN. The opening number of the show will re-enact the riot, Blades said.
The benefit will also feature a raffle and "finger food hors d'oeuvres."
"If you're part of the progressive, inclusive community that Tucson is, you should go to a drag show every once in a while, just to stay on pulse with what's going on," Blades said. "There are some really butch guys up there, and also some guys that are just way too good at it."
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door, but reservations are recommended. Call 299-6647 for tickets; credit-card orders can be taken over the phone. The show is intended for those 18 and older--and it's more than acceptable for audience members to dress in drag, too. --C.E.
Feel like watching history in the making? Well, so do a lot of liberal Tucsonans.
Next week, as the first-ever African-American major-party presidential nominee (Barack Obama, for all of you living under the proverbial rock) is "chosen" to lead the Democrats, local supporters will be gathering to watch, talk and just basically celebrate the progressive change.
Gatherers will focus mainly on Obama's nomination speech, via television from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, but other events are being planned, too.
Guest speakers (including local Obama supporters and political enthusiasts, though details are still being worked out) will be on hand, as well as food, drinks, and door prizes.
Event organizer and local Obama grassroots campaigner Sarah Robinson is expecting anywhere between 50 and "a few hundred" people at the event, which she describes as "an incredible evening." (Side note: If you live in Tucson and support Obama, you might have already met Robinson, but if you haven't, you'll be impressed by her enthusiasm; her voicemail message ends with "have an Obama day.")
All ages are welcome, and families are encouraged.
The event is free, and no reservations are needed, so go meet your fellow Democrats--and get ready to countdown the days until November. --C.E.
For a toe-tapping good time, break out those dance shoes, and head downtown to the Fox Tucson Theatre this Saturday for a cover performance of the legendary Carlos Santana's music.
Inspired by Santana's intricate tunes, Steel Ribbon takes on the challenge of re-creating Santana's style.
Steel Ribbon formed in 1990, choosing their name because some of the members were railroad workers. They now have nine members, who play a variety of instruments, including congas, drums, bass, guitar, keyboard and timbales, a type of percussion instrument.
Guitarist and railroad worker Dale Romero said the range of instruments, skill and cooperation provide the keys to re-creating Santana's overlapping melodies and harmonies. Many of the songs are long, also adding to the challenge.
"It's basically just the full formula to make the Santana sound," Romero said. "I mean, you have to have all those instruments, otherwise ... it just doesn't work. Santana music is very, very hard to play."
Though they're especially experienced in covering Santana songs, Steel Ribbon have covered a range of styles, including music from Journey, the Allman Brothers Band, Patsy Cline, REO Speedwagon and the Beatles.
The Fox will set up a dance floor for the show, along with regular seating. The show will run from 7:30 to about 10 p.m., with a short break about halfway through.
Tickets are $15 in advance, and $17 the day of the show. Children younger than 12 get in free with a parent. --K.S.
Touching art is usually a big no-no, but Tohono Chul Park makes it a must with their exhibit Please Touch Again.
This is the park's third time hosting this exhibit series, which started in 1999. A variety of tactile works featuring materials including wood, metal, ceramic, paper and textile media are on hand.
The exhibit is geared specifically toward individuals with visual impairments, but it can be exciting for all who are interested in a multisensory art experience. The display features labels for the works in Braille and detailed verbal description tours led by specially trained park docents. Some of the works even have audio components.
"The primary motivation was for everybody to have an opportunity to touch art, and then we realized that this would be a wonderful opportunity for people with vision loss as well," said Peggy Hazard, curator for the exhibit. "What a neat opportunity to kind of take away that basic rule of an art exhibit and be able to touch the work and experience kind of what the artist experiences in working with the materials," said Hazard.
Visitors can pet a clay Gila monster created by Debbie Jensen, and feel Rachel Hunnicutt's sea anemone, knit from fuchsia cotton and linen fibers.
Please Touch Again comes in time for Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month in October, which is coordinated by Art Education for the Blind. Local groups that have helped make the exhibit accessible for all include the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired and the UA's Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and School Psychology.
The exhibit is included with admission to the park: $7 for adults, $5 for seniors/active military, $3 for students, $2 for children (ages 5-12) and free for those younger than 5. --K.S.