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June 27, 2004: CulturePulp attends the final "Peacock in the Park" -- the Woodstock of Portland drag-queen revues.

Endnotes and Digressions:

1.  Grey-tones on this installment by Chad Essley.

2. It would be remiss not to mention Maria’s co-hosts — Kimberlee Van Patten  and one “Poison Waters,”  a.k.a Kevin Cook. Poison actually had some of the day’s best lines as emcee, e.g.: “Those of you with squirt guns? As much as we love a little squirt, no squirting the queens! The sound equipment will fizzle and the queens will kick your [fanny]!”; also, “If anyone can guess my weight, I’ll give you this grand piano!”

3. Event organizers gave away $20,000 in scholarships onstage, just before trotting out something like three hours’ worth of drag-queen acts -- a behemoth “greatest hits” package that included Darcelle’s own revue and other queens and guest musicians from far and wide. (I’m not even going to try and name them all, for fear of excluding someone important -- though it’s worth noting that local piano god Michael Allen Harrison played an original song.)

4. The main reason “Peacock in the Park” is ending is simple, according to Maria — it was founded to raise scholarship money for gays and their kids, and the outdoor venue got so popular (and thus expensive to mount) that it’s cutting into the charity funds. Maria says that future Peacock fundraisers will be held in more controlled indoor venues, such as ballrooms and clubs.

5. It was fascinating to watch hour after hour of fabulous, largely ’80s-era songs — all of them show-closers, some of them live recordings — enjoyed by thousands of people as if performed for the first time. There’s a certain transmutatational power in getting caught up in one lip-synch after another, of everything from “The Last Duet” to Maria’s gospel remix of “Gotta Be” to the “Time Warp.” Yes, it got a little long in the tooth — it’s wearyingly emotional when every single song feels like an encore — but it was nevertheless a remarkable close to an almost unprecedented outdoor festival. 


You can download a high-rez PDF of CulturePulp 006 right here: CulturePulp006.B.pdf

1 comment:
David Stroup (dstroup) says: Dude! Lookig great! And you're the top review on the WCN main page today! Congrats on taking CP to WCN, this is a great forum for your stuff.
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Mike Russell is a film writer and cartoonist living in Portland, OR. ... full profile