Words: Kelly Leslie
Photos: Melissa Burman
Kim Chichi dazzles hundreds of people in Union Square, with her A-line cut, fire engine-red hair, and matching painted lips. Dressed in an all-black, glimmering gown, she confidently moves her slim body to the beat of 2009’s hit song by Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”. Always on point, and never missing a mark, it is obvious that she has performed a time or two in her life. This is only the beginning of the show, and the crowd is already going wild.
Big hair, perfect manicures and twinkling, flashy outfits from head to toe set the scene… the drag queens, and kings of San Francisco hit the stage once again, but this time they’ve traded in their heels for skates. Families from all over the city have come to see them perform at this year’s show, making it the most memorable, annual “Drag Queens on Ice”, since the event started three years ago.
“Every city has drag queens, and every city has ice skating rinks,” says Donna Sachet, who narrated the event as this year’s MC. “Only in San Francisco will you see them put together.”
The event, sponsored by Alaska Airlines and hosted by the Safeway ice rink in Union Square, was originally started for fun, but has become a great opportunity for the LGBTQ community to be visible within the community, according to Mutha Chucka, who performed as “Mrs. Santa Clause” at the show. She wore a red dress and carried a black fur coat behind her as she lip-synced a version of “Santa Baby” to the crowd. “We’ve got the professional hockey team skating with drag queens,” she says. “Where else does that happen but in SF?”
It is true that the San Francisco Bulls professional hockey team also made an appearance at the event, and joined the drag queens and kings for a meet and greet on the ice. Dressed in their signature colors, black and orange, they skated with people of all ages from the city.
“It’s a little more of a liberal atmosphere than my home [in Canada], but we want to help and support different cultures,” says Kris Belan, who plays for the bulls.
“Everyone here is very supportive,” says Ian Catindig, also known as miss Kim Chichi, who only had five days to prepare his routine. “Everyone [here] just wants to watch and have a good time. As a performer you want to give that to them.”
Catindig has been singing and dancing for fifteen years and ice skating for eleven, but this is the first time he has ever participated in a drag show, but it may not be his last. “The energy of the crowd… ahh oh my god, I want to do it again!” he says.
Filled with holiday treats and top hits music, it was a night to be remembered by all, but perhaps the most memorable part about it was seeing all of the families engaging with the drag queens and kings, according to Mary Chirichella, who performed to a Justin Bieber mashup as Mary Minajet Trois. “It’s great visibility for the LGBTQIQ community to be out in the middle of Union Square with a bunch of families,” says Chirichella. “It’s important to get out and support.”