HRC vs. MAM

Two big gay events go head-to-head next month

by Dan Odenwald
Published on September 21, 2006, 12:00am | Comments

So many parties, so little time. It's a view easily taken by revelers this fall as two mainstays of the gay social calendar -- the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Dinner and the drag extravaganza, Miss Adams Morgan -- go head-to-head Oct. 7. A scheduling fluke that pits both events on the same night is forcing hundreds of D.C.'s most fabulous socialistas into a prickly choice: politics or drag?

Both events appear to be at the mercy of their venues. HRC booked the Washington Convention Center more than 18 months ago, says spokesman Brad Luna. Miss Adams Morgan organizers inked their deal with the Washington Hilton over a year ago. In past years, HRC has laid claim to Columbus Day weekend (the holiday falls on Oct. 9 this year) while MAM planners shoot for a date closer to Halloween. But other commitments forced the Hilton to slate MAM on Oct. 7 this year, giving rise to the sticky scheduling predicament.

The National Dinner, one of HRC's most lucrative fundraisers and the crown jewel in their dinners-for-dollars circuit, draws big-name activists and celebrities -- this year's slate includes Billie Jean King, Frank Kameny, Lance Bass and Reichen Lehmkuhl -- to be feted by the politically plugged-in D.C. gay community. At $250 a ticket, the dinner is a black-tie must for the fashionable fundraising set.

Over the years, Miss Adams Morgan, the famously private drag party, grew from a few friends gallivanting in frocks to a sell-out bash in one of the city's largest venues. The event is marked by signature drag performances and gives hundreds of typically buttoned-up Washington types an opportunity to knock about in wigs and falsies. The event also raises money for AIDS-related charities in D.C.

The same-night scheduling seems to set the stage for a popularity smackdown of diva-like proportions. The question du jour: Where are you going?

Organizers and attendees of both events say it's no big deal. Really. HRC reports its ticket sales are brisk and it's on target to meet fundraising goals. Additionally, the National Dinner is co-scheduled with its annual board meeting so many in attendance are actually from out of town.

MAM predicts it will sell out again this year despite its earlier-than-ever date. At $55 a ticket, MAM, the so-called ''gayest night in Washington,'' is a bargain compared to HRC.

''Both are such good events'' that people are probably going to do both, Luna says. The National Dinner kicks off at 6 p.m., giving attendees plenty of time to get to the Hilton later that night. Partygoers are more than welcome to bring their girl-on-the-go bags or show up in drag at HRC if they like, he says with a laugh. But, he adds, ''In the future, hopefully, [the same-night scheduling] won't happen again.''