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Bianca Paige may be gone, but her unmistakable voice, and kind heart, lives on.
As the alter ego of actor and community activist Mark Middleton, Bianca graced Nashville’s stages for the better part of three decades. Basically, if it had a bar and a stage, Bianca probably worked there — and brought in a crowd every night.
Often lost in the rush to see (and hear, and suffer at the hands of) Bianca was Mark’s unflagging devotion to several groups and charities within the Nashville GLBT community. As quiet as Bianca was bawdy, he could be counted on to give of his time and talents at a moment’s notice.
So whether it was prowling the stage at Artrageous, terrorizing unsuspecting heterosexuals at the Chute, helping out at Nashville CARES in myriad ways or just being a kind, attentive friend, here’s to a class act. Mark and Bianca, we will miss you.
I can best describe my memories of Mark/Bianca by comparison with another drag performer, Divine. Like Divine, you had to get past the unremitting weirdness—or in Bianca’s case, the “over the top, in your face” gravelly, often deliberately vulgar bravado—to discover an actor/actress of genuine talent, with a natural sense of comic timing and uncanny gift for puncturing pretension. And like Divine/Harris Milstead, Bianca’s larger-than-life persona gave you no hint of just how shy and gentle a person Mark Middleton was in day-to-day life.
Mark/Bianca was an incredibly generous performer. Nashville CARES and the people we serve benefited countless times from that generosity. I am also grateful for his courage to be open about his experience as a person living with HIV/AIDS. That openness helped to reduce the stigma still associated with the disease and helped to remind the GLBT community that HIV remains an unresolved challenge for us.
— Joseph Interrante, CEO, Nashville CARES
I remember coming out in the mid 90's and the place to go to first was to see Bianca at Connections. She would always make you feel warm and welcome and ensured that you would laugh and have a good time. Being new to the scene, she embraced me and helped ease me into this new lifestyle.
As Mark, he was wonderful, caring and made sure to say hello and ask how you were when walking down the street. Mark worked with my partner at World's End and he was always such a delight.
Bianca was larger than life with a personality that would fill a stadium. The passing of Mark/Bianca has left a deep void in my soul. However, I am trying to fill it up with all the great memories he gave us. Bianca, have a safe trip on your next grand adventure. You will be missed, but the love you gave us will live on.
— Jack Noe
"Bianca was a true class act and a dear friend. When my mother passed away in October she was the first one to call and say, “If there is anything I can do for you, gal, let me know. I truly loved her. May she rest in peace.
— Diamond Dee
“Paging Mr. Tail, Mr. Cock Tail! Bianca was more than a queen; she was a mentor, friend and icon to many, many people. Bianca never held back when helping charitable organizations or up-and-coming kings and queens. I will always remember Mark at my grandmother's for Christmas, and Aunt Bianca giving me tips on how to be a king. May her spirit live on inside each of us. We love and miss you Bianca. Keep them laughing!”
— Damien Payne
Bianca/Mark was not just a man in makeup, but a masterpiece of performance and person. Oh, how you’ll be missed. Heaven needed to be entertained by one of our best, and is why we had to let him go. All my kisses and love to you, Ms. Bianca Paige, you’re now the fiercest angel above.
Living In New York City for 10 years now, I have seen many a performer, and yet NOT ONE has been able to even come close to the majesty that was Mark Middleton/ Bianca Paige. I was so very fortunate to know Mark privately as well. And as many times as he blew me away ON the stage, I think he moved me, blew my mind and inspired me even more OFF of it. If ever there was a true heart in this world, it was Mark's. From that instantly recognizable voice to the firm, real hugs to the laughter to the talks, there was never a dull moment, nor one that was meaningless. Mark put 150 percent into EVERYTHING he did, whether in the lights or out of them, and he will be SORELY missed. I miss him, and pray he is still laughing, loving and dancing in the light.
WOW! I only wish I could have said good-bye. I can remember seeing Mark/Bianca at the Warehouse and following his career through the years. He became someone I could go and see perform and forget how the world was treating me. We would sit and chat at the Chute on many occasions, and I would love to sit and listen to his stories. A great performer will be greatly missed but I will keep him in my heart forever. If it starts to get crowded up there in heaven save me a seat because I'll be the first in line to watch you perform again!!!!
I have known Mark since I moved to Nashville 16 years ago. It didn't matter who you were, he was always nice and down to earth to everyone. He was wise beyond his years and always gave the best advice. My favorite Bianca moment was when she MC'd at Connections and did Annie Lennox’s “I Need a Man.” Ain't that the truth! Anyway, some people have to pass before they are a legend, but Bianca was a legend from the day she took the stage. I will miss Mark as a person and Bianca as a performer.
Mark/Bianca will certainly be remembered as an amazing person, performer and entertainer. Her style and charm on and off stage were second to none. Equally important though, were Mark's contributions to the GLBT community in a more substantive way. In the few years I spent volunteering for a few local groups, I don't remember Mark ever saying no to a request for help. He worked hard on stage to keep us entertained, but he worked harder to better the GLBT community...he donated so many hours to most every volunteer organization in town and always seemed happy to do it. I'm grateful to have seen Bianca on stage for so many years, but I'm more thankful for his tireless contributions to all of us in the GLBT community.
— David M.
Memphis is so saddened to hear of the passing of Mark Middleton/Bianca Paige. Bianca was one of a kind and always would put on a killer show. On many trips to Nashville, watching Bianca's show was always at the top of the list of things to do while in town. I will always remember the first time I saw Bianca at the Chute, she would get the crowd so excited and would always make you laugh. Her performance on stage was always fantastic with people in line just to tip her; you could tell she was very much loved in Nashville. We were always so excited when Bianca would travel to Memphis to perform at Crossroads. Mark/Bianca you were very much loved in Memphis and you will be missed very much!
Bianca Paige, Nashville's Rage! The most theatrical drag queen I've ever seen! Her facial expressions were animated! She ruled the stage. She will always hold a special place in my heart! Thank you Bianca for all the cheers and laughs!
— Brian Green
Mark/Bianca, I will always remember your kindness and thoughtfulness. When I lived in Nashville 1994-2002, you gave me such memories that I still hold close to my heart. My favorite was when you ... sorry they were all my favorite. Our loss is heaven’s gain as the have a new headliner! Godspeed.
— Donald Elgin
My first drag-queen experience was with Bianca! I remember one night at The Connection in Nashville and watching with amazement a Bianca Paige performance. I went up to tip her, first time ever in my life tipping a drag queen, and she looked down, and said in that gravelly voice “THANKS DOLL.” I was so taken back that it made me jump. My life as a gay man and as a part of Nashville's gay community was immensely enhanced and influenced by Mark after that initial experience. I have and will always have the most utmost respect for him and his incredible talent. I will also greatly admire his selfless contributions to the community at large. He was friendly, humble and a genuine down to earth kinda guy -eh, girl. Mark, you will be greatly missed. I wish to thank you for being an incredible influence on my personal life and on all of those lives that you touched! Truly -Rest In Peace!
— Jimmy Smith
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.