By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
With the band’s sound check completed, Howard’s co-owner Tony Zmarzly was on the stage at the club making sure the gear was pushed to the edges of the stage. He taped down a section of the carpet and checked for errant microphone cords. The crowd cleared the dance floor in front of the stage, and waited.
Then Rosie D. Riveter appeared, all glitter and bitchy attitude. Drag was on stage at Howard’s Club, and it found a willing audience.
The Rosie and Viv Show last Sunday was the first of three Queer Night drag and variety performances scheduled for the club. Organizer Gary Strain, a.k.a. Rosie, hopes this will continue and maybe even expand in 2018. The other shows are set for Nov. 26 and Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. she and Vivian Vendetta Sinclaire also will be part of the line up Saturday, Nov. 19, for the Leelah Alcorn Memorial Scholarship Benefit Show to raise scholarship money for transgender students at Bowling Green State University. The benefit starts at 3 p.m. and runs until closing time.
The show Sunday marked a promising launch as Rosie and her co-hostess Vivian Vendetta Sinclaire commanded the stage with raucous, off-color humor and word play.
They pulled the audience in. They even had a couple women come up to guess their bras sizes, to no avail. Then Nikki Cordy, the club’s barkeep, left her station, to nail it.
Strain said when he’d approached Cordy about staging the drag show at the club, her response was “hell yeah.”
So Rosie and Ms. Sinclaire and their special guests Rikki Sins and Deja D. Dellataro walked the walk to the sounds of Beyonce, Spice Girls, Lizzo, Stevie Nicks, Alanis Morisette, The Pointer Sisters, and Kelly Clarkson.
The dance floor became a runway and as they strutted by on their way to the packed picnic tables in the rear, customers proffered dollar bills.
One customer apologized to Rosie saying she’d forgotten to bring bills. “Oh, just give me your credit card.”
Strain said that the idea for the queer night at Howard’s sprang from discussions among those in the LBGTQ+ community on campus. There’s already drag at Ziggy’s on Tuesday nights, but people were looking for something different.
“Something edgy, something a little underground, something a little punk,” Strain said.
That includes having a local band – American Spirits filled the bill for the inaugural night – and in the future comedians and other variety acts.
“It’s about providing a community space,” Strain said. “A place they feel safe in, where they want to come out and enjoy themselves and feel part of it.”
That’s how Bowling Green residents Dot Johnson and Danielle Summers felt.
They’ve been to Ziggy’s, but that’s late night on a Tuesday, making it hard on those who have to get up to go to work the next day. The Howard’s show starts at 8.
They’re already Howard’s regulars. “It’s a really comfortable place,” Johnson said. “I’m happy they were having a queer night on a night I could attend. I love the bar. I love drag. This is the best.”
Summers said she liked the way Rosie spent time setting up the acts at the beginning, and injected the so much comedy in the proceedings.
Queer nights are important for the LBGTQ+ community. Bowling Green’s too small to support a gay bar, she said, so being able to claim a night at a venue is valuable.
Driving to Toledo is difficult. It’s late, and fans can’t drink much if they’re planning to drive home.
“We’re comfortable here because we come often,” Summers said. “We like to support anybody who comes in. It’s great that they doing drag”
“We’re starting to get a better queer scene in Bowling Green,” Johnson said.
“We have a large amazing queer community in Bowling Green,” Summers said, “and it’s amazing to be represented and have a night.”