Archive for the 'Events' Category

Local Mom Sees Drag Show, Gets Giant Fruit Plate

Each Sunday morning, while the most pious of Richmond folk are in church, a smaller, more boisterous bunch are gathering for a different kind of weekly ritual.

Godfrey’s Drag Brunch has become one of the most diverse social events in town bringing together gays with soccer moms, yuppies, and even those grandmas that wear the big hats. With two sittings a week – one morning and one early afternoon – reservations are a must.

I had the pleasure of taking my dear, sweet (and incredibly supportive, not to mention brave) mother for her first drag experience. The morning brunch had been overbooked so the dining room was packed with the abovementioned melting pot ready to see some ladies of illusion strut their stuff.

Normal brunch fair is available – French toast, eggs, hash browns, a few salads, and also specialty quiche. My slice of the Chesapeake quiche had a buttery crust filled with full chunks of lump crab meat and cheesy goodness. As for Mom’s fruit plate – well, let’s just say the gays know fruit. It towered and would have done Carmen Miranda proud.

Any decent brunch and drag show would not be complete without a good supply of alcohol, so the speedy and efficient wait staff were ready to serve up Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. I had a mimosa, which in the Godfrey’s tradition of strong drinks, was a flute of champagne with a miniscule splash of orange juice. Mom had the decaf coffee.

Food and drink aside, the main course is the show. As a gay man frequenting the bar on occasion, drag has lost much of the glitz and shock value – both of which are the appeal to many of the guests partaking in the day’s brunch.

You had your hodgepodge of performances including a few up-tempo numbers with cartwheels, leg kicks, and other acrobatics; and of course, your ballads complete with dramatic lip-synching. It’s an eventful feast for the eyes with outfit changes and sparkles galore.

Don’t be fooled thinking the performances are toned down for a more general audience. When one of the queens took off her mink stole to reveal her gigantic implants covered in nothing but rhinestone pasties, my mother’s jaw dropped and summed up the “OMG” reaction of the dining crowd. You just don’t see a drag queen in pasties every day.

It’s not only the drag queens that make the brunch some of the best people watching around. A noteworthy performance was by one of the audience members, a rather crazed middle-aged woman crying during drag queen Tiffany Deveroux’s rendition of Whitney Houston. Rumor at our table was that she was Tiffany’s eccentric (and highly intoxicated) neighbor.

During a phone conversation with Dad later that evening, he said jokingly, “I think you’ve terrified your mother.” Her words were, “It was interesting.” Perhaps if Mom had something a little stronger than coffee, she would have let her hair down a bit more.

She was so impressed with how much one of the drag queens looked like Reba McIntire, she keeps bringing it up, urging me to show pictures to my father. It’s not really his cup of tea.

When you go, don’t expect just a meal and a show, but an experience. The morning extended well after 1 p.m. – rounding out the performances at a solid two hours. Be sure to bring plenty of ones as it is proper etiquette to tip the performers. We got a lot of bang for our buck and there’s plenty of fruit. I’m pretty sure Mom was eating on that fruit plate for a good while.

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Indulging at the Greek Festival

It was back with a vengeance. A crowd of mythological proportions wrapped around St. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Sunday afternoon in celebration of a blowout return of one of Richmond’s largest ethnic food fests.

Baklava Sundae at the Greek Festival

As the church on Malvern and Grove underwent renovations, the past two years had been scaled back to a drive-through only Greek Food Festival. Compared to the pay-as-you-go style of other festivals, if you wanted to sample everything, you had to wait a line longer than a coaster at King’s Dominion. It was worth the wait as the food was as amazing as ever – but as pricey as going out to a restaurant. Souvlaki was fresh and well-seasoned; pasticio (think lasagna) was flavorful and spicy; grape leaves were tightly bound and zesty; and the spanakopita (spinach pie) was better than I had remembered.

My fave was the sinful Baklava Sundae. The combination of the sticky walnuts, honey, and flaky phyllo over soft serve ice cream made this bad boy worthwhile. Some eye candy serving up in the pastry line didn’t hurt either and made for nice dessert.

Another Week, Another Festival

St. Joseph\'s Italian FestivalWhat is an Italian Festival without pasta?  Not much of a festival.

The scene today at St. Joseph’s Italian Festival was wet and muddy.  Attendance was noticeably affected by the rain, but most notable was the lack of food.  With the exception of coffee, gelato, pastries, and pizza, there was not much else available  Perhaps some vendors had to cancel because of the inclement weather.

The highlight was the delectable sfogliatelle at the pastry booth.  Still hot from the oven, this ricotta-filled dessert was wrapped with a spiral puff of dough and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Yum!

At the core of any festival of this nature is the heart and soul of those putting it on.  Today, everyone seemed preoccupied with the rain, so hopefully better weather tomorrow will set the stage for a more festive event.  St. Joseph’s Italian Festival continues tomorrow at 828 Buford Road in Bon Air from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Monument Avenue 10K Is OK

This guy finished first at 28 minutes, 38 seconds.  Image from Sports Backers Website.I was the fat kid that could barely do a 15-minute mile in gym class. After losing 135 lbs. a couple years ago, I have decided to push myself physically. Back then, I could never have seen myself running a 10-minute mile, much less enjoying it. Today, running the Monument Avenue 10K, I can say that my first race was a phenominal experience.

During registration, you write your estimated time of completion to determine your start time. One hour, thirty minutes seemed like a safe bet. I began training a few nights a week on the treadmill and shortly worked myself up to 5K each session. Last week, I did a test run for endurance. My one attempt to train outside became too fussy with traffic –  thus learning, in the future, I should go to a park. With my lack of outdoor running, I was curious to find the outcome on race day.

This morning, portapotties lined Broad Street and so did the racers waiting to use them. Each participant received a bib including a number that corresponds with their start wave. I was in the “P” wave which had about 2,400 runners – the amount of people that registered for the entire race during it’s first year in 2000. Since then, the 10K has grown to 31,000 registrants and received a boost this year as a US Men’s 10K Championship Race.

The rush at the start of the race was exhilarating. Moving from Broad Street and taking a detour through Lombardy to get to Monument began a scene of live performers and spectators cheering on friends and family.  When I arrived at mile-marker one, I thought to myself, “Is this all I have ran?”  It was going to be a long 6.2 miles.  My goal was simply to complete the course at a running pace.  I didn’t have a specific time goal, but the competitive nature of the event helped keep me motivated.  Avoiding tripping over paper cups at the water stations also proved challenging for a person as generally clumsy as myself.  Running in the rain added to all of this excitement.

To add some quirkiness to the 10K mix, participants were encouraged to dress in costume.  For most of the duration of the race I ran with the X-Men, which was pretty rad.  I don’t think I could run with a wig on like Storm did, then again, there’s always next year.

I ended up passing the finish line at one hour, seven minutes, and fifteen seconds.  Not bad at all for the first go round.  Even after a bruised toe, sore nipples, a few muscle cramps, and some other select chaffing, it was totally worth it.  Next up, a marathon.

Image from Sportsbackers.org

Corned Beef And More

All Decked OutRichmond has always been a huge town for festivals – with a special place in its heart for those revolving around food. Greek. Lebonese. Italian. Pan-Asian. You name it, this city celebrates it. With March here, festival season is in full swing.

Despite today’s chill in the weather and slight drizzle, a crowd of men in skirts and patrons sporting green enjoyed Church Hill’s 23rd Irish Festival. The event, sponsored by St. Patrick Catholic Parish, brought Celtic goods, plenty of Harps and Guinness, and of course, corned beef.

Irish Suprise/LasagnaThe most notable aspect of this festival was the incredible value. With only a $2 donation to get in and quality fest food homemade by the parish, I spent only $8 and left in need of a carb-detox. Starting out with Irish Lasagna (also known as Irish Suprise) brought a big pile of mashed potatoes, corned beef, and cabbage. Even though it was a little light on the corned beef, it was still delicious for a pile of mush. It reminded me of the corned beef and cabbage my grandmother used to make. The star of this show was certainly the macaroni and cheese (of questionable Irish origin) and the “Shamrock” fries. The massive amount of fries were a steal at $2. Cut fresh and fried to perfection, they were heavy, but satisfying.

Big Hair

Accompanied by my partner in crime, the lovely Lindsay of RVA Fashionista, we ran into a few friends – including our buddy Eric who was dawning a stunning blond wig and getting plenty of photo ops. We just had to get one with Lindsay – I yelled to that kid with the green wig to get in the picture. He agreed.


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Penguin Disco is a social blog based in Richmond, VA. Send love notes to kevin@penguindisco.com.

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