Bay Area fans of drag queens and reality television are in for a treat. This Sunday afternoon, July 21, the California Gold Pageant packs San Francisco's BeatBox Nightclub with both. Five recent reality TV stars are scheduled to judge Northern California's largest fundraising drag pageant!
Since its 2009 inception, the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco's California Gold Pageant and its winners have raised nearly $20,000 for worthy charities. In this historic fifth-annual contest, an even dozen contestants from as far away as Modesto, San Jose and Salinas vie for the prestigious crown -- under scrutiny from stars of such popular shows as Top Chef, Project Runway and, naturally, RuPaul's Drag Race.
Amazing Race alum Jaymes Vaughan immediately agreed to be a judge. In fact, the sexy star was so excited by the possibility -- "I love drag queens!" he literally squealed, as if unable to control himself -- he wiggled out of a pre-existing booking to return to the Bay Area. (He was last here for the GLAAD Media Awards in June.)
"I have a real appreciation for fundraising and philanthropy now," says Vaughan, who with best friend/Las Vegas Chippendales costar James Davis placed runners-up the show's 21st season. As revealed on the series, Vaughan dove head-long into fundraising to support his father's cancer treatment. Though he lost his dad earlier this year to the disease, his fundraising efforts continue.
Vaughan and fellow judges -- Richard Hallmarq from Project Runway, two-time Top Chef contestant Chef Josie Malave-Smith and RuPaul's Drag Race, Season 5 competitors Lineysha Sparx and Honey Mahogany -- have volunteered their time to this popular fundraising event. The hope, of course, is their participation will increase the California Gold Pageant's visibility and, through sale of tickets and VIP packages including Meet & Greet and photos opportunities with the celebrities, money raised.
However, these stars haven't cleared their schedules exclusively out the goodness of their hearts! The California Gold Pageant has a reputation for being a wild and unpredictable time. And, lest it be forgotten, the spoons full of sugar to make the philanthropic pill go down so easily are -- of course -- the drag queens competing.
And who doesn't love a good smackdown for a crown?
These twelve 'girls' go wigged-head-to-head in the standard talent and onstage question-and-answer portions. An audience favorite is the occasionally outrageous "creative dress" category, which could prove inspirational to Hallmarq, a Sacramento-based clothing designer. Past competitors have worn costumes made of Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets, maxi pads and even cupcakes (take note, Chef Josie!).
Each contestant represents a different nonprofit, for which they will fundraise during the coming year if crowned. In a change this year, net proceeds from the pageant will go to the winner's charity of choice.
"Fundraising has always been really integral in the San Francisco drag scene," Honey told me earlier this year during an unrelated interview. "It's one of the things that really sets us apart from other cities, I think."
Hallmarq can definitely appreciate the concept. "I've been given so much," he says. "I just want to give back to the community any way I can."
The Fifth-Annual California Gold Pageant is Sun., July 21, 5-9pm, at BeatBox, 314 11th St., San Francisco. Tickets range from $20 general admission to $40 VIP including a meet & greet and photo with the judges, plus an assigned seat (preferable, since seating is extremely limited).
For advance tickets, visit: www.CAGold.eventbrite.com