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A Houston Drag Queen Talks Fundraising


Regina Thorne-DuBois is a drag queen from Houston. And every Monday for the last four months, she's hosted a show called The Broad's Way at an area bar called Michael's Outpost. Last Monday, though, The Broad's Way had to be canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. So Regina Thorne-DuBois got together with some friends to raise money with the show from her apartment that they streamed live on Facebook. Regina Thorne-DuBois, also known as Ryan Barrett, joins us now. Thanks very much for being with us.

REGINA THORNE-DUBOIS: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

SIMON: And how did the idea for this come about?

THORNE-DUBOIS: Well, we - I was stuck in an apartment complex that thankfully was not getting damaged at all by Hurricane Harvey. And I had a whole - I was in contact with a bunch of members of the cast of our show all around the greater Houston area. And we were all stuck inside. We'd all been stuck inside for a couple of days now. And the cabin fever was getting to us, but we wanted to find something to do to not only pass the time but help the city out.

So I sat down, and I said, well, what if we got all the cast of the show that was supposed to be performing on that Monday night, and we went and gone on to Facebook and performed for a couple of people, ask people to donate money and see how it went? And then nine hours and almost 10 or 15 different entertainers later, we had just kept going, kept going and kept raising money. It was really, really spectacular.

SIMON: Boy. What did you perform?

THORNE-DUBOIS: I personally performed - I know we did "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked." We did a couple of ballads, too, that we thought were going to be nice and powerful and help spread the word about what was going on. We performed something from the show "Waitress." And the entertainers that we brought in to perform did some non-Broadway drag performances or some non-Broadway singing to add a little bit of variety to the shows.

SIMON: Regina - if I may call you Regina...

THORNE-DUBOIS: Oh, feel free.

SIMON: ...What have these days been like for you and your friends?

THORNE-DUBOIS: It has been difficult. I will say we have had it much easier than most of Houston. So for - I know for me, personally, the thing that was most difficult about the last couple of days and how I've really been feeling was helpless for a lot of it. But then I started getting hopeful once we started doing these fundraisers and being able to reach out and assist the people of Houston in a way that not a lot of people were doing.

SIMON: You gave people your art.

THORNE-DUBOIS: Yes, exactly. That was what we were wanting to do? We wanted to make sure that, even if we didn't raise any money - if no one had donated at all - if we had just been able to allow our drag to entertain other people and make them forget about the disaster that was going on outside their walls for just five minutes, we would feel like we succeeded.

SIMON: What have we learned about Houston through these days of trial and courage and so much world attention?

THORNE-DUBOIS: I think that we have proven that the fourth-largest city in America is a lot smaller than you think. Everyone has come together to form this amazing community. I thought when I originally came here that it was going to be very easy for me to feel alone in the city because it's so big. And over the past week, I have never felt like a more important member of a community. It's sad that it takes a natural disaster to bring the community and the nation together. But when it does...

SIMON: Yeah.

THORNE-DUBOIS: ...The relationships that come out of it are beautiful. And almost what brought me more emotion than seeing some of the negative things out there was seeing just the sheer outpouring of love and support for those people who are suffering.

SIMON: Can we have a few bars of a ballad?

THORNE-DUBOIS: Well, one of my favorite songs is "Maybe This Time" from "Cabaret."

SIMON: I would love to hear a little. "Maybe This Time" is a Kander and Ebb song. I'd love to hear a little of it, if you can help us.

THORNE-DUBOIS: Yeah. Oh, for sure. All right. Let's see what we can do here.

(Singing) Maybe this time, I'll be lucky. Maybe this time, he'll stay. Maybe this time, for the first time, love won't hurry away.

There you go. A little something - just a little something for you.

SIMON: You do that beautifully.


SIMON: I'm so glad. Regina Thorne-DuBois of Houston, thanks so much.

THORNE-DUBOIS: Thank you, Scott.


LIZA MINNELLI: (Singing) He will hold me fast. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.