Updated June 11, 2006 Compiled & written by Mike Fitzpatrick
Quest News Update
Reality Check: The Column
Sun Shines On PrideFest's Saturday Session
Martha Wash Steals Headliners Show
Milwaukee - Mild temperatures and bright sunshine greeted attendees at PrideFest's biggest day June 10. Overall attendance appeared on par with previous PrideFest Saturdays (the official tally will not be available until later today). However, the evening's chilly, blustery weather sank the numbers of fans willing to brave 40's wind chill to watch the electrifying final show of the night by 80's electro-pop rockers Berlin.
As might be expected the "gayest" events run throughout the day attracted the largest crowds. The expanded Rainbow Stage with the Pride Idol semi-finals and Wisconsin rocker Ronnie Nyles outdrew Main Stage attractions. The Dance Pavilion replaced a day-long disco beat with a number of well received acts, especially the hilarious re-working of The Wizard Of Oz as a combination drag show and cheerleader dance routine by the Minneapolis troupe Cheer! Dorothy Cheer!
Also attracting an overflow crowd was the sassy youth competition "So You Think You Can Prance?" a mix of dance competition and drag ball scene. The emcee and judging kept the audience in stitches throughout the preliminary event, which concludes Sunday afternoon.
One area which suffered from success was the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center Cafe & Wine Garden. Several scheduled acts such as Women's Voices Milwaukee and the Shaia Fahrid Belly Dance troupe drew such large numbers it prevented festival goers from accessing the Milwaukee LGBT History Project exhibits.
One dubious PrideFest tradition also saw an unusual twist this year. The ritual anti-gay "Christian" protesters demonstrating at the main gate were joined by a PFLAG mom carrying the simple message "God Blessed Me With A Gay Son, Amen." The colorful, handmade sign quietly but effectively drowned out the verbose bile being spouted by the bull horn carrying "men of God." Festival goers entering and exiting the grounds often stopped to give the woman a hug or a kiss.
Blustery winds increased as the afternoon drew to a close and after the sun set, the festival grounds grew less hospitable. The evening's headliners show appeared to draw only about two thirds of number at Friday's appearance by Margaret Cho. Bow Wow Wow's perky Annabella Lwin charged up the crowd with renditions of the group's sole U. S. hit "I Want Candy" and a jungle beat driven version of "These Boots Are Made For Walking."
"Would you buy that if we release it as a single?" Lwin asked the gyrating crowd, who roared back in the affirmative. "Well then, I'm holding each and every one of you to that promise!"
Following the British rockers was New York drag icon Princess Diananda's impersonation of Diana Ross' Vegas act with an extra surprise tossed in. The impersonator took a tumble over a stray microphone cord midway through her act, though she recovered nicely, not missing a lip-sync.
The night's true show stopper came next. Martha Wash, of Weather Girls fame, came on in full diva mode and reworked her song line-up on the fly throughout her half-hour performance. Her performance of her signature "It's Raining Men" likely will be considered the night's festival highlight.
Following Wash's standing, screaming ovation-garnering set, Saturday's fireworks - actually sponsored by another lakefront event - seemed anticlimactic. The twenty minutes of down time to re-work the stage and the estimated forty-something degree wind chill combined the shrink Main Stage audience to about 800 for the final act of the night: Berlin.
Berlin suffered a further injustice: lead singer Terri Nunn's microphone volume was AWOL for the first two numbers. The crowd was screaming, but not for the band. They wanted the technical staff to fix the problem. The light finally dawned on the diminutive diva and the band subsequently redid the numbers. Nunn also scored points with her hardcore fans by reaching out to touch members of the crowd as she rode on the shoulders of a clearly nervous but plucky PrideFest security staffer. The band later invited about fifty fans onstage for their final number.
PrideFest concludes Sunday with scheduled performances by R & B sensations EnVogue and Eurodance act DHT featuring Edmee. Warmer weather is also promised. For more information, visit the PrideFest website at : www.pridefest.com.