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Last weekend Drag Idol winner Martha D’Arthur was joined by Lady Imelda, Topsie Redfern, Stephanie Von Clitz, Mrs Moore, Connie Lingus and Tanya Hyde at Halfway II Heaven for a tremendous evening of cabaret and comedy all in the name of charity. Jason Reid reports…


As someone who works and socialises on our diverse gay scene, week in week out, I often hear people talk about the dissipation of the sense of community, and in certain quarters, in all honesty, when you remove those heavily rose-tinted spectacles and take a step back, its absence is sometimes noticeable. But, like everything in life, it’s about balance: enjoying the fun of the scene whilst also retaining a strong community, one that should bond us. Never is there more a sense of it than when a group of talented cabaret performers get together to showcase their art in aid of charitable causes.

Supporting three charities, the ‘West End Wendys for Mind, Body and Soul’ event, organised and hosted by Martha D’Arthur, brought together some of drag’s leading ladies, with the day being launched by two of the biggest voices out there: Lady Imelda and Topsie Redfern, followed by the Dorset charm of Stephanie Von Clitz, who shimmered around the room shaking her noisy bucket amongst the crowd. Mrs Moore, in a very understated fur coat, added huge amounts of high camp to the occasion, as always. Shirley Bassey super-fan Connie Lingus provided impeccable glamour and sing-alongs. And the flawless, scarlet-haired Tanya Hyde was in fine fettle and even finer voice as she drew the night to a close.

Martha D’Arthur, who had clearly put so much effort into the overall organisation, hosted the whole day with poise and professionalism. Money was raised with an ongoing raffle and collections – prizes ranged from Dancing On Ice tour tickets to endless amounts of lube and Prosecco (great concoction). Spokespeople Alan Bugg from Cancer Is a Drag and Nuala Coll from The Food Chain addressed the audience, in between the fun and games, to explain the objectives of their respective charities, reminding everyone of the reason for the event.

The highlight of the day came in quite an unexpected form. To me, anyway. In a speech that silenced a lively, packed room, Martha spoke frankly about why mental health charity C.A.L.M (campaign against living miserably) is so close to her heart and the personal challenges in her own life that led her to champion that cause. It is tradition at charity events for someone to speak about the serious matters, but rarely do you hear words that are as impassioned and delivered with such clarity and meaning. It was a speech that came straight from the heart. I was very moved. As were the audience. Being a public voice that raises awareness and helps to de-stigmatise an invisible disease that affects, or has affected, people in most circles of friends and families has to be admired.

A perfectly balanced day of song, laughter, lots of booze and, most importantly, supporting those who need it on this crazy roller coaster of life. Just as any close-knit community would do…

Frank's Closet is a gay themed musical at Wilton's Music Hall in London.

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