Metro Weekly

Hair-Raising: Wig Night Out Benefits the Point Foundation

Wig Night Out lets DC bar patrons display their most creative hairdos while raising money for LGBT scholars

Wig Night Out 2013 - Photo: Ward Morrison
Wig Night Out 2013 – Photo: Ward Morrison

The higher the hair, the closer to God.

That’s the rule of the annual fundraising event, Wig Night Out. Each year, D.C.’s gay bar-goers don wigs and hairpieces — complete with bows, hats and various other accoutrement — and venture out with friends for a night of frivolity. Each years, the wigs are more decorative, more ornate, more flamboyant.

“The wigs were hitting the ceilings — that’s why we had to take it out of Dito’s Bar and couldn’t have it downstairs at Cobalt anymore,” says Jack Jacobson, who’s been involved with the event since 2010.

Wig Night Out 2013 - Photo: Ward Morrison
Wig Night Out 2013 – Photo: Ward Morrison

Wig Night Out began in 2009 when ten friends wore wigs to Dito’s Bar at Floriana before hitting up other local establishments. One interested patron asked if the wigs were part of a fundraiser, which sparked the idea. Now in its seventh year, Wig Night Out raises money for Point Foundation, which provides financial scholarships and support for LGBT students. This year’s fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Jan. 30 at JR.’s, starting at 9 p.m.

Over the past six years, the event has raised more than $37,000, and has sparked spin-offs in Chicago and New York.

Wig Night Out 2013 - Photo: Ward Morrison
Wig Night Out 2013 – Photo: Ward Morrison

“It’s the easiest fundraiser I’ve ever thrown,” says Jacobson, who serves as the chair of Point Foundation’s trustees for the D.C. area. “It’s literally as easy or as fantastic as you want to make it. Some folks grab whatever they can find in the back of their closets, some will buy special wigs that are made by wigmasters. About four years ago, I had an extra large ’50s-style bouffant. That was my favorite. I nicknamed it my ‘Doris’ wig. And halfway through the event I traded my mom for her wig. She had a beehive.”

For Jacobson, the event evolved into a family outing, something he never could have envisioned growing up in a conservative South Dakota household.

“When I was in college, my mother found out I was gay and threatened to withdraw the financial and emotional support I needed to get through college,” he says. “Now, almost 20 years later, both she and my dad support Point Foundation, and two years ago, the three of us wore wigs and worked the door together.”

Jorge Valencia, Point Foundation’s executive director, say it recently received 2,200 applications from LGBT scholars, vying for up to twenty-five slots. On average, each Point Foundation scholar receives about $25,000 per year.

Wig Night Out 2013 - Photo: Ward Morrison
Wig Night Out 2013 – Photo: Ward Morrison

“Every time I have an opportunity to sit with the scholars, I’m still shocked to hear the amount of obstacles and challenges that young people have because of who they are,” Valencia says, recalling the story of one young finalist who appeared very nervous and struggled to make eye contact during his final interview.

“During the buffet lunch that followed, I was standing next to him and said, ‘See? It wasn’t that bad. You did really well.’ And he said, ‘No, it wasn’t that bad at all. What was tough for me was to be in a room where, for the first time in my life, everyone wanted me to succeed.'”

Valencia is grateful to events like Wig Night Out, as the money raised is essential to supporting Point Foundation’s mission of cultivating future LGBT leaders.

“We are investing in young people who are going to be our doctors, our educators, our politicians, in every aspect of our lives,” he says. “If you have people committed to diversity, then you start to change and move the needle when it comes to inclusiveness.”

Peruzza - Photo: Ward Morrison
Peruzza – Photo: Ward Morrison

Dave Perruzza, general manager of JR.’s, says the lighthearted atmosphere of Wig Night Out is what makes it so enjoyable. It’s more effective than other charity fundraisers because participants are getting something in exchange for their donations: a fun, memorable time.

“I can’t wait for it,” he says. “I love this event.”

Wig Night Out allows Perruzza to indulge his creative side as he cobbles together a different look each year. One year, he and several others took advantage of a sale on styrofoam wigs at Target. Last year, he and his friends decided to go in male wigs as opposed to female wigs, with Perruzza wearing a wig made of real hair — something he’ll likely repeat this year.

“I kind of like the boy wigs,” he laughs. “They give me hair that I don’t have anymore. It’s a good way to make my receding hairline disappear.”

The 7th annual Wig Night Out is Saturday, Jan. 30, from 9 to 11 p.m. at JR.’s, 1519 17th St. NW. Suggested donation is $10, with all proceeds going to the Point Foundation. Visit

For more information on the Point Foundation, visit

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