Well, this will be a short version of ?Camping Out,? as it is the Sunday after the Zoey Awards and this girl is quite ?hung? and I don?t mean that in a good way! For those of you who missed this first-ever awards benefit, you must mark your calendars to attend next year. Zoe Kelly and her committee did a wonderful presentation at the Athenaeum. We were met at the grand entrance by none other than the incomparable Flo and Channing LaRue interviewing on the red carpet, with the Flo Cam projecting our image bigger than life on the screen onstage. The other guests in my party tried to scurry around the hubbub, but yours truly, being the ham that I am, graciously answered every question out of Flo?s mouth.
Inside the beautifully restored ballroom, everyone was dressed to the nines, from tuxedos to formal ball gowns. I must commend the committee again for allowing the LGBT community the opportunity to show that we can dress up in something besides Levis and T-shirts. I was not able to wear shoes because of a broken toe, so I chose a more casual approach to dressing with slacks and sandals. I hope Zoe Kelly will forgive me.
Well, no sooner had we taken our places at the table and ordered the first of many cocktails, than the show began with a number from Zoe. She followed with the presentation of a well-deserved lifetime achievement award for our very own Melinda Ryder. Zoe let her emotions show on several occasions during the evening, and this was one of them. Then the awards began, and first under the gun was an award for best publication. And guess who won? None other than Camp. We were so elated and posing for pictures when they announced best columnist, and guess who won? Miracle of miracles, it was me! Now I never expected to win this award because I was up against a very accomplished and much more experienced writer, Chuck Tackett from KC Exposures. Chuck, I still think you should have won. I want to thank all my loyal readers who took the time to vote for me. Next time you see me out and about, come on up and I will give you a big hug.
Three of the presenters, Mandy, Onyx and Aillisa, brought down the house as they presented in the category of best restaurant while eating chicken from a KFC bucket. Here is a picture of the soon-to-be-retiring trio passing around the bucket (see photo). Another first-class entertainer, Victoria DePaula, wowed the crowd with a song from the musical Wicked.

The evening progressed with awards and entertainers interspersed throughout. One suggestion to the committee for next year would be to possibly cut down on the awards and entertainment so as to finish up about an hour earlier. The attention span of some of these old queens starts to break down after the third hour. One other comment before I move on and that would be to make all of the nominees aware that they are up for an award. Too many of the winners did not show up, either because they didn?t know they were nominated, or they couldn?t take the time from their jobs. I know that many of the bar managers who attended had to leave early, as Saturday night is the biggest night of the week for them. For the first effort, I give the Zoey Awards a grade of ?A? and look forward to next year?s presentation.
As I write this column, Jeff and the boys are floating down the Niangua River for the annual Pridefloat event held near Bennett Spring State Park in Lebanon, Mo. I don?t know if they precipitated the article that appeared over the weekend in the Kansas City Star comparing the ?Wild West Waterway? to the rowdy parties at Party Cove in the Lake of the Ozarks. I am sure that the 350 attendees of the float trip behaved with utmost decorum as they partied on the river. I am hoping to be among the revelers next year.

The only major change that I have heard about is in regards to Bell Street Mama?s Restaurant moving to the old location of Nichols Lunch next to Missie B?s and changing its name to 39th Street Mama?s. I had the pleasure of meeting Ira and Jan (Mama and Papa) at the Zoey Awards and they are really looking forward to the larger space and close proximity to Missie?s. They will be offering some special dishes just for staving off the munchies. Of course the other major change is that there will be a new show director at Sidekicks Saloon as Mandy, Onyx and Aillisa are turning in their wigs after their July 27 farewell show. I want to wish them the best and hope they will return for many guest appearances and, of course, at the Sept. 14-16 MGRA Rodeo. There is a great new nightclub in Joplin called ?Fantasy? and they?re hosting their Grand Opening party on August 4. They are listed on the Miller Lite bar page next to this column.

Again, I want to congratulate Zoe Kelly and all those who participated in the first and, I hope, annual Zoey Awards. I agree with my fellow columnist Taylor Pero in applauding this monumental first effort at something that has been tried before, but never successfully until now. I, for one, was humbled by my ?Zoey? because a community vote, not politics, determined who won. This award will have a special place on my mantel and in my heart. Until next time ? love ya.

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Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

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