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Stepping Down from their Thrones, Vanity Society & Pepperica Swirl Crown Ritz Kraka & Witti Repartee as New NY Emperor & Empress at Imperial Court’s Gala Night of 1000 Gowns
Photo by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
Witti Repartee & Ritz Kraka cross swords as Pepperica Swirl & Vanity Society crown them

Shortly after 1 a.m. on the first day of April, as the climax of the Imperial Court of New York’s (ICNY) 26th annual Night of a Thousand Gowns (NOATG)—which had begun seven hours earlier, before the month of March ended—in the Broadway Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis Hotel, Omnia Vanitas Emperor XX Vanity Society and Empress XXV Pepperica Swirl, the Empress of Caftans and Cocktails, crowned as their successors Emperor XXI Ritz Kraka, the Legal Age Emperor of Fire & Ice, Mediator of Good and Evil, and Empress XXVI Witti Repartee, the Elemental Broadway Empress of Community, Camp and Collaboration, in a Coronation Ceremony conducted by Queen Mother of the Americas Nicole the Great, Gothic Midnight Raven Emperor X Gabriel Della Notte, and Celestial Dragon Absolute Empress VII Coco LaChine. The spectacular gala benefited Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of New York City and New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth.
Marissa Rosen and Kelly King kicked off the evening, singing the Canadian and American National Anthems, respectively, and harmonized on a pairing of Katy Perry’s “Firework” and Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.” Other singers who entertained were Terese Genecco (hot renditions of “Sta sera, Baby, go, go, go” and “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home”); Adam Barta (singing and dancing to his “V.I.P.” and “Q & A”); Sara Atereth (“Without You” and “Fade Away”); Amra Faye Wright (“I do what I can with what I’ve got” and, backed by dancers from the Broadway cast of “Chicago,” “All That Jazz”); and Reina (“No-one’s Gonna Change You” and “Find Another Woman”).
Comedy’s ‘Queen of Mean’ Lisa Lampanelli (“Celebrity Apprentice,” where her charity of choice was Gay Men’s Health Crisis; Comedy Central; and a Broadway show in the fall) held forth about her friend Clay Aiken and public enemy the Westboro Baptist Church and, in general, left no sacred cow unskewered. New York Empress XXV-1/2 Ariel Gibbs Devereaux paired “Home,” from “The Wiz,” with “On the Floor” and Ebonee Excell, backed by sexy dancers, paid tribute to the late Whitney Houston with “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” and “I Will Always Love You.”
Empress X Ran-Dee, director of 18 memorable NOATG opening numbers, came out of retirement to stage “Welcome to Wonderland,” which found the Monarchs waltzing to a Johann Strauss, Jr. waltz, as well as inviting, in the ‘title song,’ “Welcome to Wonderland,” all in most elegant costumes by Empress XVI Lita Austin. Emperor Gabriel presented Empress Ran-Dee with the ICNY President’s Award for her efforts. Introduced by Martin Berusch, of “The A-List,” strikingly handsome photographer and activist Mike Ruiz was presented with ICNY’s Imperial Diamond Award for service to the LGBT community. Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, champion figure skater Johnny Weir, the evening’s DJ Johnny Dynell, and Chi Chi Valente garnered other ICNY honors. “One Life to Live’s” ‘Dame’ Robin Strasser, actor/singer/comic Lea Delaria, Amanda Lepore, and Ted Detwiler, from television’s “Sordid Lives,” also had roles in the gala. Actor and singer Gerald McCullouch (“CSI,” “Daddy,” “Bear City”) was present, in the audience, with his partner, Paul.
Prince Royal and ordained Reverend Peter Boruchowitz offered an invocation. Emperor XII Mathius Bloussant and Empress XVI Lita Austin celebrated the 10th anniversary of their reign with songs from the musical “Nine.” Imperial Court System Founder Empress José Sarria the First offered videotaped greetings. Dowager Emperor XIX Jack and Empress XXIV Farrah Moans had a brief walk. To the tunes of “Smile (though your heart is breaking)” and “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” Vanity Society and Pepperica Swirl ‘sold’ their ‘babies’ to Gabriel Della Notte, in their unusual final walk as the reigning Monarchs. Ritz Kraka’s eerie walk, before the Coronation, had a Gothic theme, complete with satyr, angel, animals, and black leather, while Witti Repartee went for a cosmic theme out of antiquity, featuring gods and goddesses and representatives of the elements earth, air, water, and fire. Q News wishes them a successful, productive reign!

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