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The Music City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (MCS) hosted their fifth H8s a DRAG fundraiser on Sunday, April 17. This year Nashville was in for a COMPLETELY different experience. Yes, there was still plenty of clown-white drag courtesy of the Sisters, but the event moved off Church Street to Ibiza Night Club and was hosted by perhaps the most famous queen to yet grace the Nashville Sisters’ stage—Miss Coco Peru.
H8’s a DRAG is a drag extravaganza raising money to allow the MCS to support of organizations such as GLSEN Middle Tennessee, Bully-Free Tennessee, and the Oasis Center/Just Us. Sister Wendy Yugitov, MCS Abbess, explained last year, “we are all meant to be loved equally.” H8’s a DRAG is just one way the MCS have been spreading and reinforcing that message over the last few years.
Ibiza Night Club in Brentioch, which late last year began hosting a weekly LGBT night on Thursdays featuring Veronika Elektronika and, more recently, local Drag Race contestant Jaidynn Diore Fierce, was the site of this year’s show. A much larger stage, and ample room for seating, allowed audiences to comfortably enjoy the warm-up acts, as well as Coco Peru’s comedic show.
Coco Peru has been a drag mainstay for twenty-five years, appearing in LGBT cult classic films like Trick and Girls Will Be Girls, and the MCS are excited to be bringing her act to Nashville. According to Sister Faegala Tina Pfischzoot, “Over the past year, there has been considerable buzz in our community about bringing Miss Coco Peru to Nashville.” The opportunity came about when Sister Faegala met her on the Drag Stars at Sea Cruise in January. “Her full length show brought the house down. Coco entertained us for more than an hour with quips, stories, songs and interactive comedy that had the crowd begging for more! Coco made a whole new generation of fans that afternoon.” The following day at lunch, the groundwork was laid for Coco’s first visit to Nashville.
In advance of that visit, Coco agreed to sit for an interview with us to let Nashville audiences get to know her a little better.
How did you get started in drag?
I had trained to be an actor in college, and Coco was going to be just a character that I was going to create, with the thought that it was going to be just one of many things that I did... But it was the one thing that took off, so I just stuck with it!
What were your inspirations for developing this character?
I was inspired when I went to see a show and [a man] was playing the female lead, and I thought, ‘My God, he’s having so much fun! I want to do something like this! And everything just all of a sudden came together…. I had this burst of inspiration that I was going to be a drag queen that told autobiographical stories, and that’s how I was going to change the world. And then it just took off from there.
I was really responding to the AIDS activism at the time—wanting to somehow find my voice and address things that I was concerned about in the gay community. That was one of my inspirations for how Coco developed.
How did you develop your distinctive comedic voice?
When people tell me they saw my first shows I always get a little embarrassed because I know they weren’t … well they were special for that time, but I’m sure I’ve gotten better since then! But I knew early on even as a kid that I had a knack for making people laugh, especially when I told stories, just to my roommates and friends.
I grew up in a tight neighborhood in the Bronx, and I happened to grow up around a lot of very funny people who happened to be great storytellers. My parents would have these parties and I would just sit there in awe of these adults, who were just non-stop telling jokes and great stories! I always felt like my parents’ friends were celebrities.
You know, it’s so weird! I used to love watching celebrity roasts back then, when you had all those greats, like Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, and I always felt like that’s who my parents’ friends were, these sort of glamourous… And they weren’t glamorous at all, really! They were working class people, but they just had that same sort of style…. I just grew up admiring my parents and their friends. I think I developed a knack for storytelling just by studying them at these crazy parties they had.
Once you got into the entertainment business yourself, who were some important or influential people you developed relationships with?
I feel so lucky that I’ve met so many of my idols. I have to give a shout out of course to Bea Arthur, because—you talked about comic timing earlier—that was another person I studied as a kid. I was obsessed with Bea Arthur when I was a kid! The fact that I got to meet her was special, and then I got to become friends with her.
Bea was the first celebrity who said yes to me when I asked her to do a “Conversations With Coco” show, and she did not want to do it, because she was very shy. She was embarrassed that so much attention would be focused on her, but she said yes.
When I was getting very nervous as the date approached to interview Bea, her musical director, Billy Goldenberg said, ‘Just remember, Bea said no to Larry King, but she said yes to Coco Peru!’ And then the day afterwards, when I went over to Bea’s house to drop some stuff off, she said, ‘Well, after last night, I guess we can say we really are bosom buddies.’ And I just thought, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe Bea Arthur just called me her bosom buddy!’ That for me was just amazing.
Of course, Liza Minnelli always had my back when I was in New York City and would bring people to see my show. So I just feel like I’ve been lucky to meet so many of the people I was obsessed with when I was growing up. And in way the little gifts from the universe that maybe the career I chose—as outrageous as it is—was the right thing to do. That’s kind of the way I look at it.
Can you tell us a little more about the “Conversations with Coco” events you’ve done and the show you’re trying to develop based on those?
Sure. I did these events, but with no budget, so it’s really a shame but they aren’t on tape and no one will ever see them again. They were fundraisers for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s homeless youth program. Now the producers want to film a Conversations with Coco pilot to see if they can sell so it as a series. Our guest for that show is Lily Tomlin.
If it did go forward as a TV show, part of the proceeds would still go to the LGBT Center. We’re not forgetting friends or from where we came, or that we still need to work for people less fortunate than ourselves. That was always the goal with the “Conversations with Coco” events—Bea Arthur, Jane Fonda… these are all people who gave their time to raise money.
What projects, besides your own shows, are highlights for you in your career?
Two films really kind of changed my life. Trick definitely was the thing that put me on the map in a much larger way. When that movie came out in 1999, that was one of the first gay movies that dealt with just two gay guys—it wasn’t a tragedy, it wasn’t sad, it wasn’t about suicide or AIDS. It was just about two cute boys looking to hook up, and they weren’t coming out….
I won’t say it was an important film, but I think it was important to a lot of people. I get a lot of emails from young guys saying what that film meant for them, just to see two gay guys not struggling with being gay and just being happy with who they are. So I was very proud of being a part of that movie.
The other film which I loved being a part of was Girls Will Be Girls because it just has such a gay sensibility. It didn’t do well in the movie theatres at all, but I love that people discovered it on DVD and it became this cult gay movie. That was just by word of mouth, and I think that says a lot for the film—the fact that it could fail so miserably in the movies and go on to have a life of its own. I’m talking globally!
How has being openly gay in the field changed from your early years as an entertainer to now—how has reception changed?
It’s completely changed—it’s amazing to me. When I decided to be a performer and talk openly about being gay, people looked at me like, ‘Why are you throwing your career away? You’re crazy!’ Nothing was going to stop me: I knew that this was what I was going to do. But that was the reaction. It was not a normal thing that I was doing. Drag is … well I never wanted to be normal, in a way, but for someone who was trying to be an actor and went to college for all of that, and paid all that money, it seemed to a lot of people in my life that I was throwing away my career by being openly gay. And my feeling was like, ‘I’m so gay anyway that it’s better to just embrace it and celebrate it!’
At the time there were no gay characters on TV. Then Will & Grace came along, and all of that began to change. And certainly with RuPaul’s Drag Race now, drag is back in the mainstream, and kids are into it…
I was just in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and I was staying in a little guest house where they had a party. It was for Mexican people, it wasn’t for tourists but for gay Mexican guys in the surrounding areas, and the thing was they all had to wear heels! And there was a little boy there in heels. What had happened was his parents didn’t want him—they rejected him because he was gay. So these two gay guys adopted him. I was just in awe that this little gay kid was prancing around in heels, so confident, so not ashamed. It was so beautiful to me to see this kid totally self-express. I thought, ‘Boy, the world is changing.’
I get emails from eleven-year-olds, and from their parents thanking me for making the world an easier place for their gay kid. In the twenty-five years I’ve been doing drag, the world has changed for the better, and I’m proud that I was part of the change in my own little small way.
You mentioned that, in part, Coco was developed as you were struggling to find your voice about issues. Do you have issues that’re still driving you?
My one-person shows will always have a point of view. I try to make it very universal even though they’re very personal stories, so it’ll always have that element of where I want people to be thinking and feeling, but also to be entertained. This brand new show, I’ve had a lot of straight people come see it, and they’re expressing to me all the same things a gay audience would express.
I’m always thinking about the younger gay generations, and now we have gay marriage and all these things that I was marching in the streets for years ago, so to see them come about is really wonderful. You know the world is always evolving, so I talk about everything. I’m always concerned about littering, so I wrote a monologue about that. There’s always something you want to change in the world.
Can you tell us a little about the show you’ll do in Nashville? Is it your new material?
It’s my first time in Nashville: I’ve never ever been, even as a tourist. I’m so excited to visit! Whenever I go to a new town I always give the audience a ‘Best Of’ show so they get a really good idea about what it is I do. I tell people, “It’s like a group therapy session, only it’s my turn to talk!”
For VIP admission, doors will open on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. and general admission begins at 7:00 p.m. VIP admission includes guaranteed access to a meet-and-greet after the show. For more information about H8s a DRAG, visit the event’s page on Facebook, and tickets to the show may be purchased at Eventbrite. To learn more about Coco Peru, visit www.misscocoperu.com
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.