William Kapfer and Mark "Mom" Finley Source: William Kapfer

Out with Dr. Bill: A Campy 'Oh, Mary!' Seattle Drag Legend Retires and a Pink Boat

Dr. William Kapfer READ TIME: 10 MIN.

My latest adventures, from the hilariously campy "Oh, Mary!" in New York's West Village, to heartfelt reunions with old friends in Seattle, have been a whirlwind of laughter, connection, and unforgettable moments that remind me why I cherish these experiences so deeply.

"Oh, Mary!": A Joyous, Campy Romp Through History

Eric, a fervent Lincoln enthusiast (we actually have books, busts, and art depicting our country's 16th President all around our apartment) had been eagerly anticipating "Oh, Mary!" at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in the West Village for the past couple of months. We'd walked by the theater on many occasions, but it wasn't until we heard that the sold-out, twice-extended, must-see show was closing within a week that we realized we'd better do what we could to secure a couple of seats.

Although the show is reopening for a 12-week engagement at the Lyceum Theater, we wanted to ensure we caught the show in the smaller house. (For details on the show's move uptown, follow this link.) We always prefer experiencing a new play in its original small theater, where the intimate setting enhances the authenticity and connection with the performance, rather than in the larger, often more commercial Broadway theaters.

By a stroke of luck, we managed to secure fantastic seats for the Friday performance, just before the show's Sunday night closing. As we settled into our seats, the buzzing anticipation of the audience was evident – it was obvious that the show had a sort-of cult following.

I was soon introduced to the work of Cole Escola (they/them), the playwright and leading actor, whom I was unfamiliar with but quickly realized was highly admired.

When the lights dimmed and the show began, we were greeted with a hilarious and unexpected scene featuring Abraham Lincoln, humorously referred to as "Mary's Husband" (played by Conrad Ricamora), and an assistant (Tony Macht). Lincoln's exasperated complaints about Mary's incessant rummaging for booze set the tone for the evening.

From the moment he exclaimed, "The last time this happened, she scaled a clock tower, derailed a freight train, and pissed all over the Senate floor," I was laughing uncontrollably, and that laughter continued for the full length of the 80-minute play.

"Oh, Mary!" didn't aim to teach profound lessons or challenge intellectual boundaries; it was simply a joyous, campy romp. For those who appreciate broad humor and clever plot pivots, this show was an absolute delight – make sure to reach out to the Lyceum Theater on 45th to get your tickets today.

Adam Wexelbaum, William Kapfer and Matt Krzyzaniak
Source: William Kapfer

Seattle: A Week of Business and Reconnection

I spent a busy week in Seattle, participating in the National Minority Supplier Development Council's Minority Business Economic Forum, attending the Seattle Cabaret Festival, and catching up with old friends. We'd lived in Seattle for many years before the turn of the millennium and being back in the Pacific Northwest meant reconnecting with them.

Firoz Lalji, William Kapfer, and Ying McGuire
Source: William Kapfer

Driving Economic Equity and Innovation for Minority Businesses

The annual event gathers top leaders to amplify minority business enterprises (MBEs), address challenges like access to contracts and capital, and foster key relationships with C-suite executives.

This year's Forum focused on the theme "Be Next, Now," emphasizing opportunities and innovations for economic equity and MBE advancement.

What I enjoy most about attending these sorts of conferences is that I can connect with fellow industry professionals, friends, and like-minded diversity leaders. One of those friends is NMSDC's CEO Ying McGuire. I had the chance to join her at the stunning home of event co-chair and longtime friend and philanthropist Firoz Lalji, CEO of Zones.

I also ran into Adam Wexelbaum and his friend, Matt Krzyzaniak. I've known Adam for many years, first meeting my fellow New Yorker at the National LGBTQ+ Task Force. Funny how we must go out of state sometimes to reconnect with locals.

Mark "Mom" Finley
Source: William Kapfer

Drag Queens, Cocktails, and Cherished Memories

As fortune would have it, my longtime friend Mark "Mom" Finley (known in Seattle as "Everybody's Favorite Drag Queen") was having the final live performance of his career during my visit.

Due to health challenges that affected his voice, he was performing for the last time. Mark was at Egan's Ballard Jam House as part of the Seattle Cabaret Festival, hosted by Arnaldo Inocentes, Founder & Executive Producer of the Pacific Northwest Cabaret Association. His show, "Cockroaches, Cher, & Me," was the pièce de résistance of a decades-long career.

The title, inspired by a phrase his friends always say, reflects Mark's resilience – at the end of the world, there will only be cockroaches, Cher, and Mark.

Mark has been a vibrant and influential presence in the community for more than three decades. Known for his dazzling performances and charismatic persona, he has significantly contributed to the local LGBTQ+ scene, both on and off the stage.

Rocky Gonzalez, Stuart Vincent, William Kapfer, Nolan Stamps, Scott Drake
Source: William Kapfer

I attended the performance with some local buddies: Nolan Stamps and his uber-talented singer-songwriter partner, Scott Drake, along with Stuart Vincent and his friend, a newcomer to our circle, fellow Arizona-raised Rocky Gonzalez. My original intent that night was to catch up with my beloved friends, and how lucky I felt when the evening coincided with the Seattle Cabaret Festival and Mark's final live performance.

The show included an amazing opening act, Bobbi Jo Blessings, Minnesota's Hot Dish living in Tacoma, Washington, and her duo partner, Derek Eisel, a farmer-turned-performer from Lopez Island, WA.

Their show was an outstanding display of talent and creativity, featuring Bobbi Jo's dazzling piano playing and singing, accompanied by her seasoned guitarist sidekick, Derek. The show was enriched with well-written original songs that not only showcased the performers' vocal range but also their knack for storytelling.

When Bobbi Jo graciously introduced the headliner to the audience, the room roared! Mark has been a vibrant and influential presence in the community for more than three decades, and the room was filled with his fans. Mark's show was flawless, no surprise. He shared songs from original musicals and pieces written specifically for him.

One of the show's highlights was his rendition of "Repent," originally sung by comedian Imogene Coca in the 1978 Broadway production of "On the Twentieth Century," and "Paris Makes Me Horny" from the musical "Victor/Victoria." Mark told us that he had worked with Coca in the early '80s, which made "Repent" particularly special.

Mark "Mom" Finley and William Kapfer
Source: William Kapfer

After the show, our group headed to Seattle's Capitol Hill gayborhood to meet at Union for a drink. I asked my friends what they liked about Union, and they said it always has an inclusive and welcoming vibe. The bar also prides itself on being a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community. The employees are attentive and proactive, ensuring everyone feels secure and respected. This commitment to safety and inclusivity makes Union a vital part of Seattle's LGBTQ+ scene.

Mark had run home for a quick costume change, coming back to meet us at the bar wearing a soft orange, almost tie-dye looking top with puffy arms tied at the wrist, complemented by orange, gold, pearl, and lime green jewelry and a lime green headband. Always the most stylish gal in the place. He held court at our table, sharing colorful stories of the past.

We reminisced about my years in Seattle and some of the memorable parties I hosted – it was hard to believe it had been over a quarter of a century since Eric and I arrived on the Seattle scene.

The Pink Bateau

A Day on The Pink Bateau: Kelley Moore's Floating Party Venue

The next day, I visited my dearest friend Kelley Moore on her boat, where she lives and runs her business. The Pink Bateau, as it is called, is a sight to behold, especially against Seattle's sparkling waterways.

It's a 43-foot, 1970 Gran Mariner boat decked out in Kelley's signature color, pink, of course. Pink Bateau simply translates to "pink boat," and it elevates any occasion.

This chic floating experience is Kelley's brainchild, the perfect venue for celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or any other life event that calls for the extraordinary. It is a floating party space.

While Kelley is Seattle-based, her style influence spans the country. She has spent years in the lifestyle space, gracing magazines and TV shows with her tips and insights. She has appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and spent 15 years sharing her passion for designing parties on other national programs like "The Today Show," "The View," "The Rachael Ray Show," and one of my favorites, "The Nate Berkus Show," where I last visited with my buddy Bryan Batt – probably most famous for his role as a closeted character in "Mad Men." Bryan and I surprised Kelley backstage in the green room and ended up staying for the live taping of the show.

Kelley Moore and William Kapfer
Source: William Kapfer

Kelley and I ended our afternoon together offboard at the Scandinavian Day Parade in her Ballard neighborhood. Ballard has the largest Syttende Mai parade in the U.S., and it's the third-largest 17th of May celebration in the world, behind Oslo and Bergen.

Catching up with friends, hearing their stories, and sharing in their important life experiences, both the good and the bad, is one of the joys of life for me. I loved our days in Seattle, but truth be told, New York City is really the place we want to live out my twilight years.

by Dr. William Kapfer

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