Here’s the story of my most memorable Valentine’s Day celebration so far. When I delivered the best romantic advice I’ve given. Sung from a stage. As the Queen of Diamonds. Almost 20 years ago.
This trip down memory lane began with a FB message.
Keep in mind these props were last used two decades ago.
I loved receiving that note. Of knowing I can pick up where I left off with a friend even if we left off many years ago.
The note inspired a search through my archives. The performance my friend referenced holds critical romantic advice relevant to Valentine’s Day, 2021.
And I have video!
I’ll meander a bit along the way to the video. Just enough to savor a few memories
The context: In 2002, I served in the leadership of the Capital City Men’s Chorus (now renamed Austin Gay Men’s Chorus) and sang in the bass section. We created a fundraising event called the Valentine’s Cabaret and Silent Auction that was a multi-course candlelit dinner. Chorus members provided entertainment during the dining.
The venue: Chateau Bellevue in downtown Austin – a mansion built in 1874 and the headquarters of the Austin Woman’s Club.
This video clip captures the scene as I walked around the location before the start of the event with a camcorder, recording the rooms in this venue and interactions with buddies. One of my buddies asks if I’m recording for posterity. I say “yes”.
It turns out “posterity” means TODAY.
And now, the performance.
You’ve got to stay in the game!
The song is from Howard Crabtree’s “When Pigs Fly”.
The driving force: Virgil Richard, a member of the board at the time (the chorus was a 501c(3) non-profit), had seized on the idea for this event and took the lead in turning the concept into reality.
Virgil, a retired Brigadier General of the US Army, would go on to become the highest-ranking military officer to come out of the closet.
He took the fight for LGBT+ inclusion in the military services to the Pentagon and the congress where he lobbied as part of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network – an effort that succeeded in 2011. By the way, the SLDN merged with other organizations and is now the Modern Military Association of America – a common voice for the LGBTQ military and veteran community.
Virgil contributed to me as a comrade, friend, and father-figure. I miss him. And I’m glad I found this short clip of Virgil handling the raffle at intermission.
For the historical record, here’s a PDF of the program. I was President of the chorus at the time and wrote the welcome message. It’s a fun overview of Cabaret as an artform, linking this St. Valentine’s Day experience we created to the Berlin of the early 1930s, NYC’s cabaret scene with Billie Holliday and Eartha Kitt, and the resurgence of the artform in the post-Stonewall (and pre-Covid19) era.Love-for-Sale-CCMC-Cabaret-program-2002