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July 6th, 2005

Drag Queens Do It Better! Night of a Thousand Gowns Charity Ball

by C.B. Coakley

On Saturday, April 2, 2005 the Broadway Ballroom of the New York Marriott Marquis was host to dazzling jewels, gowns and especially personalities! The dress for Night of a Thousand Gowns Charity Ball and Coronation is always formal, black tie or dress uniform, however the uninitiated would be unprepared for just how impressive the attire can be.

The 900 guests in attendance, through their ticket, silent auction and Royal Title purchases were able to raise over $50,000 for LIFEbeatThe Music Industry Fights AIDS.’

The event featured appearances by honorary co-chairs Katherine Helmond and Joyce Randolph and live entertainment from Martha Wash, Shiquida, Deborah Cox and of course the stunning visages of the Imperial Court.

Out of Town Courts as well as the New York Royals were presented on stage, after opening number Back to Broadway’ featuring the Cast of “La Cage aux Folles.” The Diamond Award was presented to Rev. Pat Bumgardner of Manhattan Community Church of New York.

The Imperial Court of New York is a social, fund raising organization, (most notably through the annual Night of A Thousand Gowns) and has donated back into the community more than $750,000 to both social service organizations and AIDS support groups, including:?Ǭ Bronx AIDS Services, Children’s Hope Foundation, God’s Love We Deliver, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, Senior Action in a Gay Environment as well as many others.

There are now over 70 chapters in the Imperial Court System. The Night of a Thousand Gowns Coronation and Charity Ball is more than just a chance for hundreds of Drag Queens and our men-who do not don dresses- to show off their divine and dashing finery to friends and admirers. It is the culmination of a year of fund-raising and visibility for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and AIDS communities, spearheaded by our Monarchs. Even before their coronation, our Emperor and Empress have been hard at work, earning their titles and campaigning to become the duly elected Monarchs of New York. In 1965, Jose Sarria, the country’s first openly gay political candidate (for San Francisco Supervisor) founded the Imperial Court System and set the Court standard of humor, heart and humanitarianism that today governs more than 65 royal courts in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Imperial Court of New York, Inc. is part of this proud tradition and has gained recognition in the tri-state area as the most dazzling hard workers in the community.

What sets us apart from everyone else – besides the big hair, bigger jewels and the biggest regal attire we can find – is our attitude. The glitz, glamour is how we have fun, but while having a fabulous time we open our hearts and our daily planners to ensure that people in our entire community have enough medical care, food, and shelter. We take care of our own!

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