“Nothing says classy like neon fuchsia ... and leopard print.”
So says Richmonder Lesley Fretz, self-dubbed “courtier to the stars” and the woman behind the reddish-purple frock with faux leopard print accents that will envelop Dirtwoman during his impending TOAST (not a roast) on Sunday, May 21, at Sound of Music Studios in Scott’s Addition.
Spearheaded by local video producer Jerry Williams, the event is a tribute to Dirtwoman, the stage name of Richmond’s most recognizable female impersonator, Donnie Corker.
Williams is inviting the community to come out and share their stories and tales about Dirtwoman during the TOAST, all of which will be collected and included in a documentary Williams is producing based on Dirtwoman’s life. Admission is $10.
Now 65, Dirtwoman will be at the TOAST, despite his debilitating health issues that include reliance on a motorized wheelchair when he can get around.
For scheduling purposes, anyone who wants to participate and share a story is asked to email Williams at TVJerry@TVJerry.com. Photos and other memorabilia are also welcome. All others who simply want to come be part of the spectacle are welcome, too, Williams said. Details are still in the works but Williams said the night will also likely feature some of the “grand dames” of Richmond’s drag community, plus burlesque, other performers and music.
By phone last week, Fretz said she’s outfitted Dirtwoman for at least a half dozen Ham-a-Ganzas, the annual holiday event starring Dirtwoman that brought in money (and hams) for local charities. She’s also made other costumes for him — once when he weighed more than 400 pounds, as a Christmas tree complete with tinsel and garland and ornaments.
“This is all about honoring him (and) I want him to feel lovely,” Fretz said about the TOAST.
“I’m friends with Donnie, the man behind the frock,” she continued. “He’s a good guy, a little on the simple side but I think he’s lived a pretty interesting and happy life.”
In addition to making him something to wear (the dress comes with a long blond wig and tiara, and she’ll doing his makeup that night,) Fretz said she also wants to “bedazzle” his wheelchair.
“It’s going to be somewhat tacky but it’s going to be Divine-worthy,” she said, a nod to the late drag queen Divine, whom Dirtwoman met decades ago. Fretz said she’s also thinking up ideas for merchandise to sell at the event, including framed “kissed” pages from the notorious Dirtwoman pin-up calendar that circulated back in 1993, and T-shirts with some of Dirtwoman’s famous phrases — those that are suitable to print, that is.
“He’ll like having a merchandise table for sure,” Fretz quipped, because in true Dirtwoman fashion, “there’s nothing Donnie likes more than a few bucks.”