The group that started after someone played “Jolene the Cowgirl “on a stage set up in a Rubicon Street following the Oregon District Halloween bash is a bonafide Dayton institution three decades later.
The ever-evolving and fundraising Rubi Girls, a Dayton-based comedic drag troupe, will take the stage Saturday, Aug. 1 during “Let Us Entertain You: Celebrating 30 Years of The Rubi Girls” at the Dayton Art Institute.”
The troupe last performed at the museum in 2013 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Rubi Girls documentary.
HOW TO GO
What: Let Us Entertain You: Celebrating 30 Years of The Rubi Girls
When: Saturday, Aug. 1, 6:30 to 11 p.m.
Where: Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park N., Dayton
How much: $50 general admission, $100 VIP admission. Tickets available at daytonartinstitute.org.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The event includes a cocktail hour in the Great Hall, photo ops with the Rubi Girls, a show featuring Broadway favors including all the music from “Sound of Music” in six minutes and an after-party in the Shaw Gothic Cloister with a DJ, hors d’ouvres and cash bars.
VIPs receive special seating and free drinks. There will be a presale for the group’s 2016 calendar.
Longtime Rubi Girl Brent Johnson (India Summer) said the troupe’s audience continues to grow as it supports gay-related causes and AIDS/HIV awareness, prevention, treatment and research.
The Rubis strive to open up lines of communication about issues affecting lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and questioning people, he said.
“We hope that we have played a small, small role in what’s happening with gay and lesbian rights and acceptance,” Johnson added.
Jonathan McNeal, the campy Ileasa Plymouth on stage, said many people don’t realize the troupe’s history is so long.
“We get new fans all the time. They are younger or older,” he said. “They have no idea about the history.”
WHAT TO KNOW
Here are a three things you may not know about the Rubi Girls:
Not only a boy as girl club
McNeal said drag is not about gender, but is a form of self-expression.
The Rubi Girls this year welcomed its first female member — Kristine Hofstra (Pussy Galore). She and two other new members competed in the Newbi Rubi Pageant, a fundraiser for AIDS Resource Center Ohio, earlier this year.
Johnson joked that Hofstra was a woman playing a man playing a woman, but McNeal said her performance is merely her drag.
“It is just doing it up and putting on a show,” he said of drag. “It about having fun and putting on costumes.”
McNeal said the troupe has from time to time gotten flack because the aim is not to “pass as women.”
Shows are mostly over-the-top and/or kooky.
It is about presenting characters, said McNeal, who also has played male characters like Michael Jackson on stage.
For instance some Rubis don’t shave their arms, chest or legs for performances. One member — Redeema Coupon — performs in a full beard.
“It is the way he chooses to express himself,” McNeal said. “We are allowing expression regardless of gender.”
There are a lot of Rubis
There are about about a dozen active Rubi members.
Johnson said that there have been 25 to 30 Rubi Girls throughout the years. They are bounded together as family through friendship, he said.
Josh Stuckey (Dana Sintell) and Tim Farquhar (Fonda Peters) are the only remaining original members to perform regularly.
There are Rubi Girls from Chicago to Philadelphia to New York. Some will appear with the troupe at a show Aug. 8 at the The Dunes Resort in Saugatuck, Mich.
They are tax deductible
The group became a tax-exempt nonprofit organization in May. Johnson said CareSource was its first sponsor after the designation.
The Rubi Girls have raised more than $1 million for gay causes and AIDS and HIV in its history. Until now, it has paid taxes on monies raised.
“There is still a lot of money to be made for charities and organizations,” McNeal said.