SPRING HILL — Girls will be boys and boys will be girls …
Since the Kinks' 1970 hit Lola hit the airwaves, dressing in drag was no longer just for transvestites. It is a celebrated art form, most often for comedic effect, that made its way into the mainstream with help from the likes of Benny Hill, RuPaul, Saturday Night Live and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
While common in Tampa and St. Petersburg, and growing in popularity in Pasco County, drag shows are not known to venture often into Hernando County.
Linda Kidwell, co-founder of Gifts From Home, took note of the success of the annual WoMan Fashion Show, which features local men of note who dress as women and strut down a catwalk to raise money for Hernando County Crime Stoppers.
But for her charity, Kidwell decided to take it a step further, as Gifts From Home presents "Kings, Queens and Inbetweens — A Night of Glitz and Glam" at 7 p.m. Sunday at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10209.
"I've always tried to get celebrities for our events, but it always bombed out. … All of a sudden, this fell in my lap," Kidwell said.
The show will feature a number of drag queens and kings from the Tampa Bay area, including queens Madam Diva Divine, Kamden Wells, Vanessa del Rey, Lady Janet, Alexis De La Mer and Sydney Taylor, and kings Swayde, Kane Cole, Jagger Blue and Devon James.
Raymond Alers, who performs as Madam Diva Divine and organized the show, said there will be illusion, lip-synching, dancing and acrobatics. The first half of the show will consist of individual performances; the second half will be the group.
After the show, guests will have a chance to have photographs taken with the performers.
"There will also be a big surprise," Alers said.
Alers, 29, is not new to the drag scene. Before moving to Spring Hill in November from New York, he got a taste of the stage when he landed the part of Trixie in The Rocky Horror Show. Thus began a 13-year career performing at various venues, most notably the Bunkhouse in Sayville, N.Y.
Of his Madam Diva Divine, Alers said: "I am my own character, who is based around and honors the different women in my life."
Alers owns the House of Divine Fierceness, which puts together drag shows for community fundraising events and benefits. So when approached by Kidwell to put on a show, Alers was more than happy to help.
The show's other performers can be seen at venues like Georgie's Alibi and the Flamingo Resort in St. Petersburg, Chill Chamber in Port Richey and Manilows Nightclub in New Port Richey. They have competed in pageants such as Ms.Ter Pasco County and Ms.Ter Newcomer.
The event will include light refreshments and a cash bar. Funds raised will benefit Gifts From Home, a nonprofit organization that sends care packages to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Kidwell and her husband, Larry, started the organization in late 2007, they have shipped more than 4,000 packages overseas.
Guests who bring a gift or item to send to troops will receive a free raffle ticket for a special drawing.
"We just want these kids to know we support them," Kidwell said.
While Sunday's show is definitely a step away from the typical dinner-dance fundraiser she is used to organizing, Kidwell is excited.
"I wanted to shake things up a bit," she said, "and I really think it is going to be a hoot."