Iowa drag legend Ruby James Knight looks back on her path-paving 30-year career
WATERLOO — Ruby James Knight, an Iowa drag legend for 30 years, is “resting comfortably and in his final hours,” announced Kings and Queens Club owner John Hayes earlier today after rumors spread that the 72-year-old icon had passed.
Knight (Jim Raymond in real life) took time about two months ago, before his illness took another severe turn, to talk with The Real Mainstream about his career, and how he credits Ruby James Knight, her style and generosity, and her fellow queens, with transforming his life.
Enjoy as Ruby James Knight, whose name became nearly synonymous with Kings and Queens, takes a look back. You’ll also find a photo album featuring some of Knight’s favorite looks over the years.
Kamrah brings boundary-breaking belly-dancing to Carbondale’s Rainbow Variety Show
Kamrah is a trans-masculine belly-dancer from Chicago who defies stereotypes and will headline the Rainbow Variety Show in Carbondale tonight.
As someone who also studies microbiology and anatomy, and identifies as autistic and a “geek,” Kamrah also brings a new level to the term “intersectional.”
Read about Kamrah and other local performers who will take the Rainbow Variety Show stage tonight in Carbondale. The featured performers include author Rafael Frumkin, dancers Kimea Rhines and Darryl clark, vocalist and sound healer Pat York, and acoustic performers Shane Bruce, Jacqui, Elana Floyd-Kennett, Shane Bruce, and Curt Wilson.
The show raises money for the Rainbow Cafe LGBTQ Center and its work of LGBTQ support and social opportunities, HIV and AIDS testing, harm reduction, and more.
Black History Month Art from ‘Embracing Our Differences’
Embracing Our Differences has grown from a Florida effort to an international cause involving tens of thousands across 119 countries.
Its leaders gathered submissions that resonated with Black History Month and gave The Real Mainstream a chance to share that work here.
Check out this specially curated collection, featuring nine pieces from eight different artists exploring different themes of Black history, and excerpts from their Artists’ Statements.
Galena LitFest welcomes Angela Trudell Vasquez, Madison’s first-ever Latina poet laureate
Angela Trudell Vasquez is the first-ever Latino poet laureate for Madison, Wis., a community with a thriving poetry scene.
She’ll speak Thursday, Jan. 26, as part of Galena LitFest in a presentation available in-person and online.
Learn about Vasquez’ childhood in Iowa City and Des Moines, her commitment to both editing and free-writing, and her many projects to bring the beauty of poetry alive for students and others.
Her talk tonight starts at 6 p.m.; pre-registration is required for both online and in-person attendance.
New Bolingbrook youth program helps fill growing mental health support needs of LGBTQ youth
The new Bolingbrook Pride LGBTQ youth program provides a monthly drop-in “safe space” for youth in Bolingbrook and Romeoville.
Allies and partners in the project include the Valley View School District, a University of Chicago professor, a suburban Chicago all-LGBTQ+ counseling service, and PFLAG Bolingbrook. Read about how this new drop-in program helps build on existing efforts in public schools and by other groups to help LGBTQ+ youth feel safe and accepted.
From family to BLM to boudoir, Wezz de la Rosa captures special moments
Quad Cities photographer Wezz De La Rosa can often be found at Pride events like the Pride Party at Bass Street Landing 2022, capturing special moments like the cover shot of the Quad Cities all-female band Been There Done That performing live, or a pic of local drag legend Sinclaire Snaps hugging a young girl.
He also undertakes an annual photo effort to help document the area’s LGBTQ+ community by taking photos of everyday people he meets at LGBTQ+ events. And in 2020, De La Rosa focused on gathering members of the Quad Cities’ Black community holding variations of “Black Lives Matter” signs.
All the while, he’s also providing wholesome family portraits, classy corporate head shots, and tasteful boudoir shots, both indoor and outdoor. Check out a sample of his art here.
Graphic designer Danielle Ellis teams with actress Lakeia Hodges for somber photo shoot
After Hurricane Joaquin devastated South Caroline in 2015, artist and design professional Danielle Ellis headed to Johns Island with her camera and model Lakeia Hodges. The result was a photo essay juxtaposing a carefree young woman against the backdrop of nature's...
Iowa City rock vocalist Nikki Lunden Trotter finds solace in photography, too
Most people know of Nikki Lunden Trotter as the founder and lead singer for Natural Habits, an Iowa City rock band. But she’s also discovered a love of photography — especially the kind that helps express angst.
Explore three photo galleries from this prolific musician whose career spans more than 30 years and at least eight different combinations of musicians.
Body positivity, self-discovery through burlesque on stage in Moline at Striptease Academy Showcase
Burlesque as therapy, self-discovery, empowerment and exploring gender will all be part of tonight’s Striptease Academy 2022 Showcase at The Spotlight Theatre in Moline. It’s one of the year’s last big events for Mary Quite Contrary’s House of Burlesque. It’s one of the year’s final events for MQC’s, a Quad Cities burlesque troupe that’s been performing and providing burlesque and striptease education for six years.