by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
ICON, now in its 12th year, is scheduled for April 10, VIP 5 p.m., general admission 6 p.m., at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront Hotel (2100 Alaskan Way). Each year Seattle Drag legend Aleksa Manila produces 'ICON: A Celebration of Drag, Art and Life' to raise money for Seattle Counseling Service (SCS). A general admission seat costs $125, which includes a catered dinner, a glitzy show, and an inspiring testimonial speech.
VIP tickets get you priority seating, a VIP reception with a complimentary beverage, exclusive performances by Nikolai Pirak and Brian Buck, as well as a chance to win four 1-day park hopper passes to Disneyland. You must be present at the VIP reception to win. VIP is currently SOLD OUT according to SCS officials.
'It feels humbling to witness how far and how successful ICON has become; especially, seeing the growing number of attendees year after year,' Aleksa Manila told Seattle Gay News. 'Of course, it is also exciting to organize it and put on a fantastic and entertaining show for folks who love and support Seattle Counseling Service.'
Looking back, Aleksa admits she did not initially intend to do it regularly. 'But with its first successful show, SCS Executive Director Ann McGettigan encouraged me to do it again.'
Aleksa says that, despite all the experience she has putting the event together, she often gets anxious and nervous before the show. McGettigan lifts her spirits she says.
'The event has grown so much that we now have a team to organize it and I'm very grateful,' said Aleksa. 'It makes me smile when I remember SCS Board Members and I walked up and down Broadway putting up posters for the very first ICON. This show is truly a fruit of our labors... it does take a village.'
'While I was reigning as Miss Gay Seattle in 2004, part of my responsibility was to organize fundraisers for the Imperial Court of Seattle and any non-profit of my choice,' recalls Aleksa. 'It wasn't only natural to pick Seattle Counseling Service, of course. I had only been at SCS for about a year then. My desk was at a make-shift spot in a multi-purpose room at our old location on Broadway, which is now the Capitol Hill Light Rail Station.'
Aleksa says she was inspired to produce a variety show reminiscent of the good ol' drag days of Seattle. 'My desk was flocked with old fundraiser posters for SCS in its early days. I thought to pay homage to supporters of SCS and pioneers of the LGBTQ community.'
'I don't quite remember how many people attended the first ICON at the old Timberline, now Youthcare on Denny,' she continued. 'But I do remember we had to turn people away and it was standing room capacity. I think the tickets were $10 at the door, and now it's more than that with almost 400 guests.'
Because of the growing number of supporters, Aleksa then moved ICON to Neumo's, then Town Hall and various downtown hotels to fit the needs of the fundraiser and show.
'This year, we are very happy to be hosted by the Marriott Waterfront Hotel,' said Aleksa. 'The staff there is very gracious to us.'
After 12 years, Aleksa says the list of entertainers that have donated their time and talent to the event 'is a long list!'
'Some special names come to mind, especially the crowd-favorites that are veteran ICONs like Arnaldo! Drag Chanteuse, Brian Buck, Miss Indigo Blue, and The Shanghai Pearl,' said Aleksa. 'And we've been very lucky to have Jinkx Monsoon, winner of 'RuPaul's Drag Race - Season 5' with Major Scales; Robbie Turner, featured in the current season of 'RPDR'; International Boylesque Stars Waxie Moon and The Luminous Pariah, and local drag favorites from Julia's Le Faux and the Imperial Court of Seattle.'
Seattle Gay News asked Aleksa what some of the most memorable moments from the past 12 years are and she said, 'There's a few. Like when I did 'suicide drag' at the first show and we raised over $1,000 in donations from it!'
'My favorites are when we feature staff from SCS who do various acts as surprise numbers,' Aleksa continued. 'It's refreshing to showcase how talented our staff is in addition to the professional standards that we uphold at our agency. The client testimonials are always a highlight of our event - it's really a feat to incorporate the serious work SCS does and equally celebrate the diversity of our wonderful community.'
This year, in addition to continuing the tradition of being one of the most anticipated and entertaining events in Seattle's LGBTQ community, Aleksa says this year features 'a lot of burlesque and boylesque, more drag kings and our friends at Kelcema Productions have added a multi-visual feature to the stage presentations.'
'And, of course,' she continued, 'a surprise number!'
In closing, Aleksa told SGN, 'ICON isn't just a drag show, it's a very special variety show that celebrates the colorful diversity of the LGBTQ and Ally community while de-stigmatizing mental illness and addiction. And instead, promotes mental wellness and lifelong recovery through the magic of entertainment and a stellar dining experience. Come prepared to laugh, cry and celebrate with SCS!'
This year's sponsors include, Catalyst sponsor: Group Health; Visionary sponsor: Living Care Lifestyles; Advocate sponsor: Swedish Medical Center; Listeners: 1st Security Bank; Amerigroup; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Foster Pepper PLLC.
Media sponsors are Seattle Gay News, Seattle Gay Scene, The Seattle Lesbian and Kelcema Audio.
If you have problems with registration or checkout contact René Coig at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 323-1768 x 173. For more details go to www.seattlecounseling.org/icon.
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