LipSync Idol lets airline employees and community members showcase their talents and give back

Jordan Thostenson (center) with LipSync Idol performers Tati, Chiklet, Jordan, Deora LeBlanc, and Sima (left to right)

By Laura Latzko

Flight attendants serving drinks and demonstrating seatbelts often have hidden talents that they don’t get to showcase on a daily basis. A charity event lets American Airlines employees and community members demonstrate their lip-syncing and live singing abilities.

The second annual LipSync Idol variety show, an all-ages event, will take place this year on Oct. 2 at the Mesa Arts Center. 

This year, LipSync Idol will have a Disney theme, so performers will do themed numbers with Disney, Marvel, or Pixar spins. They have a choice of performing in or out of drag, but many performers choose to don wigs, costumes, and makeup. 

Audience members vote for their favorites online, and the performer with the most votes receives a crow, title and sponsor gifts.  

The fundraiser will be filled with moments of interaction between the performers and audience members. Members of the crowd may also win prizes for answering questions or have their birthdays and other milestones celebrated.

Jordan Thostenson, Hana Aranki and Steven Cooper (left to right)

The event will have special guest performances from celebrity guests Ada Vox from American Idol, Porkchop from RuPaul’s Drag Race, country singer and Glen Campbell’s daughter Debby Campbell, Professional Singing Princess Joanna Bertalan and YouTube star JJ McBride.

With VIP tickets, attendees receive perks such as swag bags, premium seating and meet-and-greets with celebrity guests.  

For the second year, the fundraiser will benefit the Wings Foundation, an organization that provides financial assistance to flight attendants dealing with illness, disability, or injury.

The event is organized by husband-husband team Efrain and Steven Cooper, who work for American Airlines and JetBlue, respectively. The couple also gives back through charity bingo events. 

“We feel so blessed in our lives. We just like paying it forward,” Efrain said.  

During LipSync Idol, Efrain will host and perform. As production manager, Steven handles technical aspects of the show.  

Steven Cooper (left) and Efrain Cooper (right)

Efrain said with events such as LipSync Idol, he and his husband are able to help others and showcase drag outside of a bar setting.   

“Our goal is to bring the community together in an environment of love and inclusion outside of a bar environment. I feel like in Phoenix, there isn’t enough of that when it comes to drag entertainment,” Efrain said.

Many of the participating airline employees have performed at one time or another in their lives, and LipSync Idol lets them sing or lipsync on a concert stage. In the past, Efrain acted and modeled while living in Chicago.  

Efrain said it is always surprising to see co-workers onstage for the first time.

Efrain Cooper (center) with Chad Michaels (left) and Ada Vox (right)

“It just amazes me the talent that they have. It constantly reminds me how talented our workforce and our community is,” Efrain said.

Lipsync Idol takes place at 7 p.m. on October 2 at Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. Admission is $20 to $100; VIP experience available. Free for kids two and younger.