When the workers at Missie B’s heard about the Orlando shootings, they knew they had to do something to support the victims.
“This is what the organizations in Kansas City do; we step up and support each other all over the country,” owner Michael Burnes said. “That’s what Missie B’s is about.”
The LGBTQ bar will join seven others on Saturday, June 25, to host KC Cares, a fundraiser for victims of the shooting, their families and employees of the nightclub Pulse, the site of the carnage. Drag shows will begin at 3 p.m. upstairs and downstairs, and the bars will compete in a signature cocktail contest till 6 p.m.
The event will also include auctions — more than 50 organizations have donated — and raffles. Drag performers from Missie B’s and another gay bar, Sidekicks, will be on stage, and karaoke artists and retired drag performers will join in, said Missie B’s manager Jan Allen. Three live bands will also perform.
The six gay bars in Kansas City — Missie B’s, Sidekicks, Buddies, Sidestreet, Hamburger Mary’s and Bistro 303 — came up with the idea for a benefit the day of the Orlando shooting, said Robert Taylor, the owner of Sidekicks. Instead of hosting individual benefits at each bar, they decided to combine and host at Missie B’s because of its large space.
“It’s not about the individual bars. It’s about the community,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be a celebration of life for the people from Pulse. It’s the only way to get through this.”
Two other Kansas City bars, Woody’s and Ragazza, are also participating in the event.
Five performers will emcee KC Cares, including Andrew Chambers, who performs as Sister Glamarama Ding Dong. He’s been in the “glamour business” for 25 years, from makeup to performing, and calls himself a “friend of queens near and far.” He’ll give a blessing over the community at the benefit.
“Myself and my other sisters are proud to stand by the generous people here that I love very dearly in helping to make ourselves visible and stop the senseless silencing of our voices,” he said this week.
Burnes said he and his employees are emotionally exhausted from the Orlando tragedy, but it’s served as an effective wake-up call for the country. He said he’s always been focused on providing the best security for his customers and performers, with guards inside and out and camera surveillance.
“It’s made us much more aware of what’s going on around us,” he said. “It makes us realize we have to be much more alert.”
Bryan LaFave, who performs as Heidi Banks, said the Orlando tragedy has left him shaken. But the LGBTQ community has overcome adversity before — Stonewall, the AIDS crisis and the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act — and he said this will be no different.
“This event is our way of showing Orlando that we love them and we stand with them,” he said. “It is our way of showing the powers that be that we will not back down. We will not stand for senseless violence steming from hatred and ignorance.”
Missie B’s, 805 W. 39th St., will host KC Cares to benefit victims of the Orlando shootings from 3 p.m. to close on Saturday, June 25. It’s partnering with seven other bars: Sidekicks, Buddies, Sidestreet, Hamburger Mary’s, Woody’s, Ragazza and Bistro 303. Admission is free, and you must be 21 years or older to attend. See the Facebook event for more information or call 816-561-0625.