and the winners are....
Favorite Non-profit Organization: ALSO Youth
Favorite LGBT Annual Event: Sarasota Pride, Inc
Favorite LGBT Community Leader/Activist: Shannon M Fortner
Favorite LGBT Owned Businesses: Purple Rhino Lodge
Favorite Area Attraction: The Ringling
Favorite Performing Arts Venue: Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Favorite Local Actor/ Actress: Brian Craft
Favorite Realtor: Nate Brooks
Favorite Hotel: The Westin Sarasota
Favorite Apartment Community: ARCOS Apartments
Favorite Church: MCC Church of the Trinity
Favorite Salon: SALON FORTY ONE On Palm Avenue
Favorite Beauty Spa: The Laser Lounge Spa of Sarasota
Favorite Restaurant: Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi
Favorite Bartender: Hunter Vance
Favorite Bar: Oasis - Sarasota's Premier LGBT + Venue
Favorite LGBT Club: Oasis - Sarasota's Premier LGBT + Venue
Favorite Drag Queen Bingo: Beneva Fruitville's Bingo Bonanza
Favorite Interior Designer/ Company: Beginning to End Interiors
Favorite Musician/ Band: Divine AF
Favorite Drag Personality: Beneva Fruitville
Favorite DJ: D.j. Brianna Lee
Favorite Adult Novelty Store: Giggles Sarasota
Favorite Social Media Personality: Joey Panek
2018 SarasotaOUT.com's OUT ICON AWARD: Shannon M Fortner
Tara Bonds aka Trixie Champagne is one of Sarasota’s original divas. Last week her career came full circle when she became the show director at The Purple Rhino. She attributes her success to her mother who at first didn't know about her career path as a Drag Queen, but after accidentally finding out, has been pushing her to succeed as a performer ever since.
Trixie's first experience with the gay bar starts like most. “I went to my first gay bar underage. I saw my first drag show and Lindsay Carlton was in charge of that show. ” She went to a bar called Therapy which was the happening place to be every weekend. She went inside, saw the show and said “oh that looks fun, I can do that” and asked Lindsey if she could be in the show. Lindsay accepted and she was booked. “I had the best job!” Trixie said.
Trixie remembers performing on stage at Therapy “My mother had no idea what I was doing. until she unexpectedly stumbled in and saw me on stage. I came out and did my thing and was shocked as shit when I saw her in the audience.”
“My mother became my biggest fan! She came out to all my shows and was my biggest supporter. She even wanted to by my manager” Trixie laughed.
Trixie has known she was transgender since she was 19 years old and although Trixie identifies as trans and also considers herself a drag queen. “Drag is what I do as work. It’s a tricky one, Some trans girls don't want to be called a drag queen but they perform as a drag queen for work. Me personally I don't get mad because it is what I do…” Trixie explained. Trixie's been working in the LGBT scene for 17 years where she has opened and closed some of Sarasota’s most infamous gay bars to date. Trixie performed at Triangles, Club Heat, ID Martini and The Alley to name a few, where she was either a cast member or show director.
After many years of success, the scene of Sarasota changed and she found herself out of work. “All the bars closed, there was no place to work, no one stepped in to do anything,” she explained. “Eventually new places opened but they didn't book me.” She decided that she would just stop doing drag. “It kinda hurt,” she said. “After everything I’ve done for the community.”
Trixie spent her time off working on her relationship with her husband of 7 years. “He’s always been supportive of my career,” She said. “He would tell me to go work at throb and perform, and do what makes me happy” But she didn't want to perform anymore. “drag became a headache,” she said. Up until two years ago when Lindsay Carlton called her asking her to help out with the new show at The Purple Rhino. “I told her I don't do drag anymore... but I would think about it. I hung up and called my mom” Trixie explained.
“My mom said, well you know Purple Rhino is only a few blocks from me… So put on a gown, get your ass on stage and do it!”
“Because my mom’s health was not doing well, her words of encouragement meant even more! My mom has always been a huge supporter of the community once she found out I was doing drag.” Trixie explained. “So I said yes to Lindsay!” And for the last 2 years Trixie has been performing every week at the Purple Rhino and when her mother is feeling healthy, she can be found in the audience.
The purple Rhino is a non-for-profit organization to provide a place for Fellowship for the LGBT community located on Weber and Beneva. For the last few years Lindsay Carlton - the first lady of drag has been heading up the show. Over the last few weeks, Lindsay Carlton found herself feeling not appreciated in the position of show director and decided to step down. She was happy when Trixie stepped-up to the plate. “She’s taking the reigns, If anyone in this town can do it, other than me, it's Trixie,” Lindsay said. And as for Lindsay, “honey don't worry about me, I'm already signing new contracts as we speak!”
Trixie plans on bringing in fresh new talent each week to make sure the show is different. She also has plans on bringing in dancers and to possibly change the layout of the space to make it more inviting and more space to dance! Her ambition is big but her love for her craft and her drive to put on a great show for her mom is even bigger! We at SarasotaOUT.com believe that if anyone can do it’s her! We can't wait to see how Trixie will reinvent the night!
You can check out her show each Saturday at The Purple Rhino starting at 9PM.
By: Joshua Beadle, Editor & Chief of SarasotaOUT.com