Bisbee Pride 2014

LGBT festival takes advantage of town's historic atmosphere

By Laura Latzko, June 5, 2014.

In its 10th year, Bisbee Pride is becoming a grander event with the addition of national and local performers, while also continuing to showcase the town’s shops, artists and historical attractions.

Parks, bars, hotels and other venues will host events June 13-15 during Bisbee Pride.

Kathy Sowden, event organizer since 2010, said every year Bisbee Pride grows, but the historic downtown location continues to make the event special.

“I just think Bisbee Pride is a good time because of our architecture, our people and the ability to have a walking event,” Sowden said.

Gretchen Baer, a 20-year Bisbee local helping with entertainment planning, said the addition of a day stage and national entertainers makes Bisbee Pride even more appealing.

“It is a high level of entertainment. It is going to be nonstop, and the quality is going to be good,” Baer said.
Baer said Bisbee Pride became more relevant last year after the mining-town-turned-artist community became the first municipality in the state to offer civil unions.

The event also became more multifaceted with onstage entertainment.

“The whole thing had a new life and a new excitement that sparked me,” Baer said. “I think it is really coming up right now.”
Sowden said that Bisbee has started to attract more visitors, and a number of new LGBT couples have purchased homes in the community.

“People come here and just feel comfortable,” Sowden said. “We think Bisbee is pretty special.”

Here are Bisbee Pride highlights:


For the first time, gender-bending performance artist and singer Joey Arias will perform at Bisbee Pride during a cabaret show on June 14 and an event in the park hosted by Miss Phoenix Gay Pride Barbra Seville on June 15.

Arias will be joined by Sherry Vine, a singer and drag performer known for parodies of songs made famous by Lady Gaga, Britney

Spears and Jennifer Lopez. It’s Vine’s second year in a row at the festival.

Minneapolis-based singer and artist Venus DeMars will bring her style of highly personalized, ’60s-inspired rock music to the stage June 15 and 16.

New Venue

Sowden said City Park, a new venue for Bisbee Pride, offers a stage that is ideal for live bands.

“The stage is so much bigger that we couldn’t just put one person with a guitar on it,” Sowden said. “It called for bands, rather than individual performers.”

On June 15, the stage will feature a number of local LGBT and allied bands and artists, including The Panther Band, Chasing Light, Robert Earl Longley, Treasurefruit, Big Demons and Sister Lip.
Nonprofit organizations and food vendors will set up at the park.

Other Entertainers

Pandora DeStrange, also known as Scott Pierce, founder of the AZ Gender Outlaws, will perform solo and with the band The Flaming Queens.

Pierce said that Bisbee Pride has become one of his favorite events because of how it brings together locals and out-of-towners, LGBT and allies.

“When they have Pride in Bisbee, everyone throws on heels and a wig,” Pierce said.
Also taking part will be local drag performers and bands from Phoenix and Tucson, including Mister Phoenix Gay Pride Eddie C. Broadway.
The Psychadelics and the Hardways, local groups from Arizona, will perform at the Stock Exchange Saloon.

The Bisbee Pride Parade returns for the second year in an expanded version.
The route, led by Mayor Adriana Badal, goes from the Cochise County Courthouse on Quality Hill Road to City Park on Brewery Avenue.
Sowden said that 10 to 30 groups and individuals, including PFLAG Sierra Vista, the Sky Island Unitarian Universalist Church and St. John’s will participate.
Vendor Fair
For the first year, vendors selling jewelry, decorative items, gourd drums and adult wares will set up as part of an Artisan and Vendor Street Fair, from Main Street to Brewery Avenue.
“We are extending our reach throughout town,” Sowden said. “There’s going to be something for everyone up and down the streets.”


Bisbee girl brings alter ego to stage at Pride

A 14-year-old Bisbee girl who made her debut at Bisbee Pride last year will be back for more this year at the festival.

Abby Hottel will take the stage as Lenore Vendetta, a confident and fierce alter ego that she developed at a young age.

After attending Bisbee Pride in the past with her mother, Lisa Hottel, last year Abby got up on stage and lip-synced to RuPaul’s “Main Event.”

“It was amazing. It was mind-blowing because it gave me the opportunity to have a different persona,” she said.
Abby’s mom was impressed. “She was so brave. I was so incredibly proud of her,” Lisa said. “I think everyone was surprised. They didn’t know what to expect.”

Members of the AZ Gender Outlaws helped Abby with her hair and makeup for the performance.

AZ Gender Outlaws founder Pandora DeStrange, also known as Scott Pierce, said Abby earned a spot as a member of his group.
“Little miss thing, she was fierce,” Pierce said. “She can jump on stage with us anytime.”

Abby said Bisbee Pride gives her the opportunity to get to know local drag queens. “The best part was hanging out with the drag queens and getting to know them as people,” Abby said.
Abby said that this year she has spent more time working on a special number and looking for an outfit for her performance on June 14.

Abby said that she feels more nervous this year because people are coming out to Bisbee Pride to see her.
Before performing at Pride, Abby showed her support for LGBT equality by speaking at a Bisbee City Council meeting in support of the civil unions ordinance.

For more information, visit www.bisbeepride.com.