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Panzi & Joyce Randolph Emperor Tony & Empress Robin Former Empress Trai La

Tony Monteleone and Robin Kradles Crowned
in New York as Trai La Trash Steps Down
at Night of 1000 Gowns 2005
Night of a Thousand Gowns (NOATG), the spectacular Imperial Court of New York (ICNY) gala benefit ball, is always a highlight of the season and this year’s event, which took place on April 2 in the Broadway Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis Hotel and raised funds for LIFEbeat-The Music Industry Fights AIDS, was no exception

Deborah Cox
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At the climax of the evening, in the presence of Empress Nicole the Great of San Diego, Queen Mother of New York, ICNY President and Empress XII Panzi proclaimed Tony Monteleone and Robin Kradles Emperor XIV and Empress XIX of New York, succeeding Empress XVIII Trai La Trash, who had just stepped down.

Tony Monteleone calls himself the AAA Emperor of Allegria, Amore and Abbondanza (Happiness, Love and Abundance) and in his coronation walk, members of the Court held aloft banners promising these three things that are to mark his reign. Introduced by a dance from Marchioness Gale Storm, surrounded by attendants in jester’s motley, Robin Kradles, the Fifth Avenue Jewel Empress of Sincerity, Service and Style, walked to the stage to music from Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” sporting a feathered collar that reminded of a peacock’s tail in full display and a huge gold train. Singer Trai La Trash, the Broadway Rose Empress of Loyalty, Integrity, Passion and Service, took her leave of the throne with a prayer that “God help the outcasts (or nobody will).

Bruce Villanch
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There were a number of celebrities in attendance. Panzi introduced Honorary Co-Chair Joyce Randolph, wisecracking Trixie Norton from “The Honeymooners,” and Empress VII CoCo LaChine presented Broadway’s Bruce Villanch and Julie Halston. There were striking command performances by singers Martha Wash, who led a sing-along of her hit “It’s Raining Men;” Deborah Cox; classically-trained Shequida, who sang “Pie Jesu;” and the Cagelles and Bryan Batt (as ZaZa) , from the cast of the Broadway revival of “La Cage aux Folles,” who offered “We Are What We Are” and anthem “I Am What I Am.”

Following the Presentation of the Flags and the national anthems “O Canada,” sung by Charlie Owens, and the “Star Spangled Banner,” given a fully operatic performance by Terri Ferrell, a colorful opening number, choreographed by Empress X Ran-Dee, saluted the theater under the title “Back to Broadway.” Tony Monteleone was the “Cabaret” Emcee for “Willkommen” and Robin Kradles opined “There’s Got to Be Something Better than This.” Trai La Trash invited “Bring on the Men” and then belted out Mama Rose’s vow “Some People,” from “Gypsy.” “Big Spender” and “We Are What We Are” were ensemble numbers here. Dowager Emperor XIII Ron and Empress XVII Demi-Tasse favored us with the seduction scene, “You Are Woman, I Am Man,” from “Funny Girl.”

ICNY has, for the third consecutive NOATG, saluted a past and still active Empress who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of her reign. CoCo La Chine’s Decade Walk occurred two years ago and Empress VIII Billie Ann Miller’s took place last year. This year, attention focused on the anniversary of Empress IX Philomena, who spoke to the assembled of being Empress and having AIDS.

Prior to stepping down, Trai La Trash presented ICNY’s Imperial Diamond Award for community service to Metropolitan Community Church of New York Pastor, Reverend Pat Bumgardner.

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photos by Bruce-Michael Gelbert, Joe Saporito and friends

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