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The Belles of Mardi Gras

Where would we be without Chevon Davis and her sparkling troupe of drag queens, storming the clubs of Allentown and Chippewa in tiaras, wigs, and eveing gowns, spreading their special brand of joyous mayhem?

There would be no Mardi Gras without Chevon Davis & Friends. We would live in a perpetual February of the soul.

Chevon has been mistress of ceremonies for all 17 Artvoice Mardi Gras celebrations, leading a gaggle of bead-bedecked, Amazonian ambassadors of good will and good times, performing on stages and bars at Nietzsche’s and Underground, among other places, putting her glittering signature on an event that grows year after year after year.

“Even schools have Mardi Gras parades now,” says Chevon, noting that the Fat Tuesday spirit, which was barely visible 20 years ago, has gradually infiltrated the Queen City in a multitude of ways: themed displays in shop windows, celebrations in nightclubs and restaurants, in concert with or independent of the Artvoice party, and Mardi Gras beads everywhere. “This little thing that Artvoice started 17 years ago has really left a mark,” she says.

“I do it, first and foremost, because it’s for charity. That’s the main thing: It’s for a good cause. But I also love that we can make people laugh, help them to have a good time.”

The crowds in Buffalo are tremendously receptive to drag, she says, even those folks who don’t frequent gay clubs. “For many people, the show at Nietzsche’s is the only drag show they’ll see all year. They want to see a drag show but maybe without going to a different type of club, so they come to see us there.

“And they like what they see. The crowds at Nietzsche’s are just awesome. They are completely off the hook.”

Davis says she is annually astounded by the number of people lining Elmwood Avenue who are happy to flash in exchange for beads as the parade rolls south toward Allentown and the Chippewa Strip. She has watched traditions grow around the Artvoice Mardi Gras Party generally and around appearances of her drag queens particularly. For example, there is a group of four women who meet at Cozumel every year at the same time on Mardi Gras, knowing that Chevon and her girls will drop in to entertain them. Then there are the folks who had a birthday party at Fat Bob’s on Mardi Gras, were astonished at the appearance of Chevon and company, and now call the restaurant to make sure that the appearance will be repeated when they return. She thinks fondly of the parade stopping traffic on Route 33 near Tupper Street, and folks hanging from their car windows to hoot and beg for beads, while smiling, bead-wearing Buffalo cops managed the resulting snarl of traffic.

This year, Chevon’s company includes Vanity Vogue, Fiona Kora, Malibu Breeze, and Kitty Good, among other. And the show, which takes place at 10pm at Nietzsche’s and midnight at Underground, is performed in loving memory of Kerin Cadelle. Kerin, who joined Chevon in the parade and on stage for every Artvoice Mardi Gras celebration save one, passed away three weeks ago.

> by Geoff Kelly

more in the 17th Annual Artvoice Mardi Gras issue:
It's Fat Tuesday, Mes Chéries!  •  The Belles of Mardi Gras
The Artvoice Mardi Gras Parade •  Mardi Gras Events, Joints & Best Bets
Give For Greatness kicks off Give Season on Fat Tuesday

for more info:
The official Artvoice Mardi Gras Website  •

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