At its heart, Christmastime is all about giving, but usually, it's the high kicks, gifts and cookies that get the most attention. With the Vegas-style drag extravaganza "The 12 Drags of Christmas," all the razzle and dazzle is giving back to the community and helping to make a whole lot of children's holidays a lot warmer.
From the moment the lights go up at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, the upstairs at Fifth Avenue in Royal Oak will be a lot warmer too. Local and national legends of drag and female illusion will shimmer, sizzle and sashay across the stage to help raise money for Detroit-based non-profit Mittens for Detroit.
Midwesterners know the routine: starting in late August, people buy or pull out the old jackets and hats. By December we're wrapped in an entire bio dome of bubble goose down and various thermals with a white chocolate mocha. The whole process is something most people do without really thinking about it.
For many people, though, that simple routine is complicated by the fact they can't even afford things like food or housing. Mittens works to make sure people can stay warm through the frigid Michigan winter. Since 2010, Mittens has donated over 40,000 new pairs of gloves and mittens to children and adults in need.
Originated by "Detroit 1-8-7" star and Mittens founder Erin Cummings and Gary Baglio, owner of Five15 in Royal Oak, "The 12 Drags of Christmas" has raised over $35,000 for the cause. It's a job that all involved take seriously.
"There are so many children who don't have what they need," "12 Drags" emcee and local drag legend September Murphy said. "My first show I ever did 26 years ago was Toys for Tots. Children are very important. They are our future and I think we need to do what we can to help them."
In this case, "do what we can" means gathering a prime selection of drag talent, putting them into some fierce dance numbers, splicing in some comedy and making it sparkle.
"People are spending money, not only for the cause but also to see an excellent show - and we deliver every single time," Baglio said. "It's an amazing show."
"We've made sure that the entertainment and show that we put together is above all the best," Murphy added. "We have backup dancers and big production numbers with special costumes. We're actually going to make it snow inside during the show."
While the numbers themselves are spectacular, without the charisma, flash and camp of a good queen behind them, they'd be lost. Every sleigh needs its Rudolph. Luckily, "12 Drags" has that part covered too. Expect top-notch queens like Jacqueline Frost, Spacee Kadet and Sydney Charles to be serving Cher, Adele and Richard Simmons, among others.
"Now, of course, there's DeAngela Show Shannon; she's helping us put together most of the production numbers," Murphy said. "April Summers, she's a living legend. She's going to be bringing her nationally known Patti LaBelle and Aretha Franklin to the show."
"We're showcasing the best of the best," Baglio said.
Judging from the excitement of the people behind the show, the audience is in for the draggiest holiday special this side of the Detroit River.
The 12 Drags of Christmas
Saturday, Dec. 14
6 p.m. (doors), 7:30 p.m. (show)
Upstairs at 5th Avenue
215 West 5th Street, Royal Oak
Tickets available at http://www.12drags.com