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Drag queen bingo brunch comes to the Roaring Fork Valley for Aspen Gay Ski Week

Drag queen Ms. Mariam T poses for a photo at Aspen Gay Ski Week.
Matt Power
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Courtesy of Aspen Gay Ski Week
Drag queen Ms. Mariam T poses for a photo at Aspen Gay Ski Week. She returns for the 2023 iteration of Gay Ski Week and will kick off the celebration with a drag queen bingo brunch at The Little Nell in Aspen on Jan. 15.

Drag queen bingo brunch is on the calendar twice this Sunday with events at The Little Nell in Aspen in the morning and The Collective in Snowmass Base Village in the afternoon.

For Alejandro Lucchetta, also known as the drag queen “Kendra Matic,” fun is the priority, and the main point of a drag performance.

Dressed up as his alter ego, Lucchetta will be hosting a series of playful, irreverent drag queen bingo brunches at The Collective, starting this Sunday and continuing on select weekends throughout the ski season.

“I'm so excited and happy about this,” Lucchetta said. “People are going to have so much fun, I think the prizes are amazing too. And they can expect an amazing energy, you know? So you're going to forget everything, any problem that you have in your mind, because you're going to be there in a unique world having fun with us.”

Kendra Matic has also performed at Aspen Highlands for closing day, and at Here House in downtown Aspen. The persona was “born” during the pandemic, when Lucchetta, originally from Argentina, was living in New York, he said; Lucchetta now lives here in Aspen.

The connection to The Collective came by way of Mawa and Daniel McQueen, who run the “Mawita” restaurant that recently opened inside the community space in Base Village. They introduced Lucchetta to Sarah Sanders, who coordinates programming at The Collective as the plaza and events director for Base Village.

Sanders is proud of the collaboration that has emerged in what she says is a safe and welcoming space for people of all backgrounds at The Collective.

“It really is just about having fun,” Sanders said. “It doesn't need to be about more than that. It can just be expression and fun, no matter what your background is, no matter what your opinion is on Gay Ski Week, or trans (people) or drag or whatever. It's strictly supposed to be a fun ‘something different’ that we don't see every day.”

Come Sunday, it’s something different you could actually see twice in the same day.

The event at The Collective starts at 12:30 p.m. Another drag queen bingo brunch at The Little Nell runs from 10 a.m. to noon, hosted by San Diego drag queen Ms. Mariam T, who requested to be identified only by her stage name so she can keep her legal name private.

Now a familiar face at Aspen Gay Ski Week, she’ll also host a nighttime bingo event at The W on Tuesday night and the downhill costume contest on Friday. Bingo games were her gateway to drag some 12 years ago, and like Lucchetta, she emphasizes the fun of a drag bingo experience.

As Aspen Gay Ski Week begins, both Sunday drag bingo will raise money for AspenOUT, a local nonprofit that provides support and services to the Roaring Fork Valley’s LGBTQ+ community. But the impact goes beyond financial contributions.

Both Lucchetta and Mariam T recognize the significance of these offerings at a time when other parts of the country are clamping down on drag performances and spaces dedicated to LGBTQ community face threats and violence.

Lawmakers in several states have proposed bans and limits on drag performances; just earlier this week, Idaho legislators considered a bill backed by conservatives that would ban public drag shows.

And the November mass shooting at LGBTQ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs is still on the minds of people like Lucchetta.

“When that happened, that showed me and helped me to be stronger about this, actually,” Lucchetta said. “It's like I’m going out stronger, and I really want to go out.”

He says that he now feels more empowered to share the joy and fun of drag, and to show people that “it doesn’t matter what you do in your bed.”

“I can be myself, strong enough to say, ‘This is fun. This is happiness. And this is not something bad that is going to hurt you or something,’ you know?” he said. “You just have to be yourself. And that's it.”

Mariam T shared a similar sentiment, and said it’s an “honor” to perform drag and host events like drag bingo at a time when “we are dealing with so much closed-mindedness or small mindedness,” even if she considers that mentality a “fringe movement.”

“These people are just really loud. It doesn't represent a large group of people, it is this fringe group that is pushing back on it,” she said. “And I think it's a drag queen’s job to — we have to stand up in the face of adversity and we have to keep on keeping on.”

She says drag queens and trans women have long been at the forefront of LGBTQ+ advocacy, citing the Stonewall riots in 1969 and the origins of Pride in the 1970s as examples.

Some leaders of the movement like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera identified as drag queens; activist Stormé DeLarverie was the sole “drag king” in the first racially integrated drag revue in the country.

Mariam T said drag queens still have a responsibility to fulfill that advocacy role.

“It's completely up to drag queens to stand up to that bigotry and that hate and that small mindedness and keep showing the world what drag is and making everybody fall in love with it, because people love it,” she said.

People just might not realize they love it until they experience it for themselves, she says.

“People sometimes, obviously, they fear the unknown,” she said. “And I just encourage anybody to, you know, if you have concerns about it or anything like that, just come and see what it's about. You're going to have a good time.”

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Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.