Long Beach activists, community members, and politicians will put on their wigs, wear dresses and exaggerate their features with makeup to perform as drag queens for a night. The fourth annual It’s a Drag to Give event will take place on Friday, Dec. 7 for a three-hour performance at the convention center.
The creation of this charitable event was sparked by an idea for the one-year celebration of The B Room, a barber shop located in Downtown Long Beach.
Co-owner of The B Room and co-producer of the event, Isa Rached, wanted to commemorate the success of the shop after the community welcomed the business with open arms. After many brainstorm sessions, the idea of a drag show hatched.
“We [my friends and I] were watching a drag show and the idea came up…” he said. “It was like the snowball effect. One idea formed after another.”
He began to ask his friends and local businesses if they would be interested in participating and donating toys or articles of clothing for the event. After much research, the toys were donated to the children at WomenShelter of Long Beach and clothes were given to Beacon for Him, a local homeless outreach ministry.
Next thing Isa knew, it evolved from an intimate gathering with friends to community members who want to attend and do drag. There were a total of 16 sponsors and 200 attendees at the historic Breakers hotel for the first-ever It’s A Drag to Give in 2015.
“The following year, we heard the news that the Breakers was closing down,” he said. “We didn’t have a venue and had to figure out where to plan the next event.”
Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce stepped in and linked them with the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center.
“Once we got connected with the convention center, it was a great feeling,” Isa said. However, Isa admits it was scary going from a 300 maximum ballroom to an 800 capacity venue.
Prior to It’s a Drag to Give, he had never coordinated an event. But at the end of the second annual drag show, he brought together 400 attendees and brought on drag queen Jewels and community activist Ron Sylvester as hosts.
“We had to up our game,” he said. “I knew Jewels and Ron, and I’ve seen them work together. I love their chemistry so I asked them.”
The event also started to accept monetary donations instead of toys and clothing, and this year’s 2018 show made the switch to charge for a $10 entry.
Two other nonprofits, Long Beach Immigrants Rights Coalition (LBIRC) and The Center Long Beach, were added to the charitable event. Because Isa is a member of the LBIRC and identifies as gay, he wanted to give back to these organizations as well.
“I made a committee this year as the event continues to grow,” he said. “And members of the four organizations are a part of it. We came to the conclusion that money would make a better impact to all of them and go a long way.”
The show consists of various drag performances from the original cast and newcomers. This year, three out of four original members will be performing: Isa, Johnny Provencio, and Cory Allen, chief of staff for Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez.
“People kind of expect us to perform and help carry the show because we have the experience of performing,” he said.
Isa likes to create a balance with gender and various people from the community when choosing performers.
“When we first started, we didn’t know where It’s a Drag [to Give] was going to go,” Isa said. “We asked different people [to be a part of the show] that brought different kinds of groups.”
It was magical.
When he and his family looked around the venue, there were different groups mixed together bringing a diverse environment to the convention center.
“You could feel the energy from the different groups becoming one,” he said. “Many were leaving with a smile on their face after seeing their first drag show.”
The event has become an entity that celebrates diversity during a night of fun in efforts to give back to the community, and all proceeds are split among the four nonprofits.
Isa also aspires to start It’s a Drag to Give in Palm Springs after seeing the mark it has left on the Long Beach community.
Because of the monetary donations Beacon for Him received after the 2016 drag show, the nonprofit was able to stay open.
“For me, when Shannon James [founder of Beacon for Him] said that the money was keeping them open, I didn’t realize how much they were counting on us...how much of an impact we are having.”
To learn more about It’s a Drag to Give or to purchase your tickets for a drag-filled Friday night while giving back to the community, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/its-a-drag-to-give-2018-tickets-49227240000.