|In the VIP area of Micky‚Äôs West Hollywood, Kevin Santos, Rick Caroto and Antuan Raimone of the touring In the Heights and columnist Pollo Del Mar catch up with RuPaul‚Äôs Drag Race runner-up Raven. PHOTO BY MARQUESDANIELS>COM
Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
From the rooftop of Sabrina Sloan‚Äôs apartment complex, the fireworks extravaganza above the Hollywood Bowl some five miles away looked amazing. As one spectacular explosion after another illuminated the clear Southern California sky, the touring cast of the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights including Sabrina ‚ÄĒ a top 24 finalist on Season 6 of American Idol ‚ÄĒ serenaded our country on its birthday.
‚ÄúThis must be how they celebrate the 4th of July on Broadway,‚ÄĚ I thought.
A week earlier I packed my little convertible and hit the open road for Los Angeles. With the hectic Pride month behind me, I was all-too-ready to escape my daily grind and reunite with the man I met when In the Heights landed in San Francisco back in May. It had been three weeks since my Dancer and I had last seen each other, and I didn‚Äôt waste a minute heading south once I knew he was on his way.
For the next several days, my life revolved around exploring the City of Angels with Dancer and dropping him off/picking him up at Hollywood‚Äôs historic Pantages Theatre. Occasionally I stayed to watch the show, despite the fact that, as a ‚Äúswing‚ÄĚ performer, he‚Äôs frequently not even in it.
The first night I attended the L.A. run, Ongina joined me. Obviously, she wanted to see the production, which is advertised with promotional banners on nearly every streetlight in town. Just as importantly, though, I had promised to introduce my friend Rick Caroto ‚ÄĒ who I call ‚ÄúWigs,‚ÄĚ because that‚Äôs what he does for the show ‚ÄĒ to the RuPaul‚Äôs Drag Race star!
While I anticipated many would be fawning over Ongina when we were escorted backstage to meet the cast and crew, we received quite a surprise. Everyone (not the least of whom was a very anxious Dancer) was abuzz due to an unexpected visit from Angela Bassett, apparently a long-time friend of one of the cast members!
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to be ‚Äėone of those people,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Dancer whispered to me somewhat nervously, ‚ÄúBut I have to meet her!‚ÄĚ Turns out, there was no need to worry. Angela graciously greeted everyone backstage, complimenting the cast and crew for their performances.
While I can‚Äôt speak for Ongina, I was certainly pleased to meet the Oscar-nominated What‚Äôs Love Got to Do with It and How Stella Got Her Groove Back star. For the record, even with a silk scarf wrapped around her head, a simple sundress, sandals and barely a noticeable trace of make-up, she still looked stunning!
A few hours later, I sat huddled around the TV back at the apartments with the cast as they watched ‚Äď some more enthusiastically than others ‚Äď their performance on The George Lopez Show. Needless to say, they looked brilliant! (Watch for their upcoming appearance on So You Think You Can Dance?, which they tape this Thursday.)
On Saturday, Wigs, Dancer and fellow In the Heights cast member Kevin Santos joined me at Micky‚Äôs in West Hollywood for a night filled with stars of RuPaul‚Äôs Drag Race. There the spotlight was firmly on Ongina!
After chatting with members of the Long Beach Imperial Council, including Empress XXXV Nikki Coldwater and reigning regent Emperor Sam Barcelo Torche Valdez and Empress Mrs. Olson, who also happened to be at the show, I escorted my posse to the upstairs VIP area. We partied with Raven, Ongina and recently-crowned Miss California Entertainer of the Year Shangela while Examiner.com photographer Marques Daniels snapped pictures like the paparazzi one would expect in L.A.!
As it turns out, the next day ‚ÄĒ the 44th of July ‚ÄĒ was not only the final day of my trip, it also marked Sabrinaa‚Äôs last with the tour before maternity leave. To celebrate her final performance with the show, she invited everyone to her home for an incredible potluck-style dinner, where I laughed, joked and ate with the new friends I‚Äôve made until just before sunset.
Knowing that incredibly long drive home loomed ahead, I originally planned to leave before the fireworks started. Now I‚Äôm so glad I didn‚Äôt! With the lightshow overhead painting our faces in purples and reds, I held my Dancer close on that rooftop. Around us, his friends sang the ‚ÄúStar Spangled Banner.‚ÄĚ Perfectly.
It was a surreal moment, for sure, but I couldn‚Äôt think of a more ideal ‚Äď or romantic ‚ÄĒ end to what had been an undeniably fabulous, star-studded and much needed vacation.
P.S. I enjoyed it so much, I‚Äôm repeating this week ‚Äď so stay tuned for Part II!!
Follow ‚ÄúThe Glamazon‚ÄĚ at Facebook.com/PolloDelMar or Twitter.com/TheGlamazonPDM or at Pollo_DelMar@Yahoo.com.