May 16th, 2013 by Nina with No Comments
Coming June 5!
Applications are available at Union Cafe!
May 15th, 2013 by Nina with No Comments
Saturday night of Pride just got bigger!
with Alexis Stevens, Anisa Love, Freesia Balls, Fancy Punasti, Akasha O’Hara Lords, Amaya Sexton, Cool Ethan, Pretty Punasti, Bianca Debonair, Chutney Sinclair, Kiley Dash-West, Selena T. West, Mathilda Longfellow, Vivian Von Brokenhymen, Cookie Crumbles, and introducing Plenty O’Smiles.
May 15th, 2013 by Nina with No Comments
Can you believe Pride is almost here? My, how time flies. One of my very favorite Pride events, that has become known as the local bang to kick off our fabulous pride weekend in Columbus is the my Pride Kick-Off Show at Axis!
This year, the girls are more excited than ever to douse you in rainbows and glitter and the festive love of Pride!
Tables are on sale now!
May 6th, 2013 by Nina with No Comments
It is that time of year again! The glitz, the glamour, the talent! If you think you have what it takes, we are looking for you!
MISS UNION 2013 will take place on June 5, 2013 at Union Cafe. Registration forms are available now at the Union Cafe bar. Win $200, a booking at Dragapalooza, and more! Virginia West and I will host the fun as Kiley Dash-West steps down as Miss Union 2012.
Below, you will find rules, registration information, and deadlines! Get to werk, hunties!
Registration ends, June 3, 2013 at 4 PM. Space is limited to 15 contestants. If more than 15 entry forms are received, a random drawing will be held Tuesday, June 4, 2013 to determine the 15contestants.
We want amateur drag entertainers who want to perform, but rarely have the chance. We are looking for entertainers who believe that they could be the next well-known female illusionist. We just ask that you have not won any titles, state or national.
You must provide your own music in the following format – Compact Disc (CD), CD’s should be clean and free of scratches. All music materials should be clearly labeled with your name and track/song number. In choosing your number, think current and high energy. A cordless microphone will also be available. You may also use a smart phone to play your music. If you choose to do this, your phone must be put on “airplane mode”. All CDs and phones will be returned after the competition is complete.
Each contestant should arrive in make-up and costume. Contestants must arrive by 9:00PM, for a 10pm show time, Wednesday, June 5, 2013 and check in with the show hostess. The order of performance will be decided by a random drawing. Each contestant will perform one number of their choice and can be 18 and up. Judges will score your performance on several areas of showmanship. After a musical number by one of our hostesses, the TOP 5 highest scoring Contestants will advance to the second round.
Miss Union will be determined again based on showmanship and stage presence and will receive a prize package worth $200, and crown.
April 30th, 2013 by Nina with No Comments
The Annual Denison University Drag Show was last night. I know this may sound terribly cliche but it is one of those bookings that really makes what I and so many others do worth it. Every year we get to go this amazingly picturesque campus in this quaint little town of Granville and entertain the students for a couple hours. And every year, I am reminded of my college experience at this university.
When I was a freshman at Denison, I remember seeing a table at the Student Activites Fair for a group called Outlook. I saw the rainbow stickers and a picture of Harvey Milk. I circled a few times, flirting with the table. Every pass by the table got a little closer and then a little closer. Finally, after I don’t know how many times, I was stopped. The jig, as they said, was up. That is when I met Lindsey and David. I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant at the time, but it changed my life.
I went to a meeting on a warm early September Monday night in the Women’s Resource Center that was then, at the time, in Fellows Hall. This was 1997. The blinds to the meeting space were all drawn. It was very private. My heart was still racing. I had only told a few people at this point that I was gay. And now, I was sitting in a room of about eleven other queer students. The returning students were doing the best they could, giving smiles of comfort. Their eyes said, “it is all ok.” The few freshman, like me, were fidgeting, and eyes seemed to be more on the floor than anywhere else. There were so many things talked about in that first meeting – Visibility Week, National Coming Out Day, allies on campus, GLBT staff like Dr. Ann Shaver and the incredible Fred Porcheddu, outings to Columbus, and then the first mention of the Denison Drag show, started by graduate James Smith.
My ears perked a little bit but more so out of fear of this thing I didn’t know – drag. My first experience with a drag queen had only been a couple months prior to that when I went out for the first time to a gay bar in Akron with my friend Matt. I was already on edge because I had lied to my parents about where I was going. I think the excuse this time was a trip to get coffee somewhere and head to a bookstore to find the latest Stephen King to pour over before bed. Alas, that night, I didn’t return home with a book. Rather, I came home with a vision of a very colorful and cacophonous entertainer – this person was larger than life. I had never seen anything like it. Here I was, finally, in the wilds of a gay bar staring at my first encounter with the she-beasts I had seen before in Too Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar and The Birdcage and I was lost. I will never forget that feeling of seeing my first drag queen, and honestly, I was scared.
So, in hearing about these drag shows, I didn’t know what to make, but that would happen in April, and it was just September. I could worry about that when it came. Months passed, and I was coming into my own, becoming more comfortable with my sexual orientation and what that meant to be openly gay. In almost a flash, the year was coming to an end and the drag show was here. That first year, I sat in the audience, watching entertainers come onto the Slayter Student Union stage. That is the night I met many friends, but wouldn’t know it until years later. I met Maria Garrison, Missy Marlo, Sasha, Janet Garrison, Dominique Larue. What was this I was seeing? It was amazing, awesome talent – gorgeous flips, splits, and shakes. I was sucked in, and that night in April, I officially became a drag hag. I loved it. After the show, the entertainers did a quick question and answer portion and talked about their lives outside of the glitz and glamour. It was all so fascinating. I sat there with bated breath, curious to know about what their life was like. That night was magical.
After the show, I remember walking back to Curtis West, my residential hall, waiting to talk even more about what I had just witnessed. It was unreal. And this was the experience every year. One of my lifelong friends from college, Justin, and I would cackle and plan for every show after that, excited to work with the entertainers. We were ready to wait on them hand and foot – scouring for fans for the dressing room and trying to ensure that all of their needs were met. It is because of this show that I got in drag for the first time ever, my senior year, with my best judy Justin. That was the night that Meisha Mae and Nina West were born. It was a March evening. I want to say the 30th. Somewhere in that area. 2001. It was because of this show that I met Virginia West, who, for the Drag Show at Denison my senior year, allowed me to take her last name for that one-night engagement. I don’t think she thought it would turn into this all of these years later. It is because of this show that I got even closer to my friend Patricia. She was the very first to ever paint my face before a party in Smith Hall. That was an odd night. Another story, another blog. It was because of this show that I met people who became my friends, idols, and family. Other than Virginia, I met Virginia’s then-boyfriend Brian AKA Pretty Punasti. I also met Mary Ann Brandt, Tula Tubesucker, Carizma, Beverly Ford, Alexis Fontaine, Blossom, among many others.
This show has been going on for years. I remember going to a GLBT conference my junior year, talking about this particular event that we did, and other schools were just in shock we had a drag show. When I was in school, I can only think of Oberlin in northeast Ohio doing what we were doing. And that is because of the awesome vision of James Smith. James Smith changed my life. Is that the point? I think through writing all of this out, it is what I have realized. And I am so thankful for him.
So, last night, we went back to Denison. We went home. And all of these emotions come flooding back for me. Stepping on stage, looking out at the students, I saw so many people I know sitting in the crowd. I saw a young Justin Garrison, throwing his hands up and cheering. I saw a young freshman version of myself, sitting there, newly out and trying to negotiate what he sees in front of him. I saw Patricia Taylor, sitting there, holding her best friend’s hand because of this fatastical sensory overload. And because she wants to share in this brief evening of happiness before the reality of the world sinks in after the lights are up and the queens have all gone home. But for me, heading to Denison was like heading home. Going home always feels good, and last night felt awesome.
Thank you Anisa Love, Virginia West, Jareja Rashad, Pretty Punasti, Cool Ethan, and Natasha West for an outstanding evening.
Thank you to Outlook, Taylor and the executive board, and the students of Denison University for having us and allowing us to continue to create and share memories.
Andrew Levitt, ’01
April 26th, 2013 by Nina with No Comments
I can’t believe the experience that was NINA DOES CBUS. Truly, one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences I have had and I loved every second of it. The cast, crew, and crowds were some of the best ever.
Since 2003, when I did my first show, Nina Network News, the charity component has been one of the most important pieces of my shows. This component has come in many forms, from the XXXposed Strip Benefit to the closing number and it’s tips being dedicated to an organization. These shows have raised considerable funds for Columbus AIDS Task Force and now AIDS Resource Center Ohio, Project: Zero Ohio, The Susan G. Komen Foundation, Project Open Hand, Camp Sunrise, The Trevor Project, Broadway Cares:Equity Fights AIDS, The Columbus Stompers, The Human Rights Campaign, Stonewall Columbus, CLGSA, Freedom To Marry Ohio, among many others. Your countless hard-earned dollars have been crumpled, balled up, and thrown on the stage for amazing causes and charity. You sit there and laugh and drink long after the show is over to help us reach a goal of being able to make a difference. It is one of those things that make this city I proudly call home absolutely amazing.
With NINA DOES CBUS, I worked with so many different people and organizations who all were connected, in some fashion or another, to charity and this city. In the vision of the show, to really celebrate Columbus and finish this love letter, I wanted the organizations to represent some of the great things about this unique city and the people who said “YES!” to working with a 6’7″ drag queen and not batting a lash. To honor these individuals, an organization was chosen and a donation will be made to an organization on their behalf.
Jeni Britton Bauer, Local Matters, http://www.local-matters.org/
Elizabeth Lessner, Project: Zero Ohio, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Zero-Ohio/194772307241509
Lesley James, CD102.5 For the Kids, http://cd1025.com/about/in-the-community/cd1025-for-the-kids
Joel Diaz, ARC-Ohio, http://www.arcohio.org/
Joshua Snyder Hill & Stephen Snyder Hill, Freedom To Marry Ohio, http://www.freedomtomarry.org/states/entry/c/ohio
Gabrielle Burton, Kings, Queens & In Betweens Kickstarter, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/981223409/kings-queens-and-in-betweens-a-documentary-on-drag?ref=live
Karla Rothan, Stonewall Columbus, http://www.stonewallcolumbus.org/
The staff and board of COSI, COSI, http://www.cosi.org/
I am proud to announce the cast of NINA DOES CBUS, with the help of this incredible community, has raised over $6,000 for local charities.
Thank you to everyone who came out to this show, supported the love of this city and the entertainers that call it home. Thank you to everyone who pulled out $1′s, $5′s, $10′s, $20′s, wrote personal checks, and gave their money to these organizations. We are a better community because of you. THANK YOU.
April 24th, 2013 by Nina with No Comments
Tonight is the night! Come out to Union Cafe and watch the shenanigans ensue! The Annual Employee Turnabout Show brings out the best (and worst) of the staff, and it really is a feast for the eyes!
The show will start around 10 pm! Hosted by Virginia West and myself!
April 2nd, 2013 by Nina with No Comments
Please, if you can, come out and support this incredible documentary.
November 26th, 2012 by Nina with No Comments
I am so excited to be taking part in unique events all across this amazing city this week.
Join me at Union Cafe for Legendary Long Isands this Thursday at 11 pm, with my special guests, Virginia West and Freesia Balls. Cry havoc and let slip the long islands!
I am so honored to have been asked to take part in the album release for my friends THE REGRETTES this Friday night at The Newport! It is going to be amazing. But don’t take my word for it, come out and see for yourself! Proudly brought to you by CD102.5 – and by the way, FIREBALL is gonna be flowing!
This year, I am excited to be taking part in an event to commemorate World AIDS DAY that will sure leave you shaking your ass. Benefiting Project: Zero Ohio, A Night at the Bluestone , presented by Mr. Fahrenheit & The Loverboys and Nina West, with performances from The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, Van Haken, Joshua P. James & The Paper Planes, Scotty Niemet, Lydia Beatz, and more. And I will be doing a little live sangin’ as well. Have fun and support the fight! Doors at 8 pm.
It is one of my favorite nights of the week…I mean, who doesn’t love showtunes? And if you don’t, come out for the strong drinks! it is time to sing along with your favorite clips and get a little sauced while doing it! Babs, Judy, Bette, and more will ease you into the night of fun and frivolity! I will be there at 8 pm!
November 14th, 2012 by Nina with No Comments
Every year, Virginia and I get to celebrate the season of perpetual hope together and we are very excited to share this holiday with you!