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SnowBall to Benefit People With AIDS

The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire will hold its annual SnowBall, a dance and drag show to directly benefit people in Utah living with AIDS, on Dec. 9 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

Thom Shaylee and Systeen Chapelle

Prince Royale XXXII Thom Shaylee and Princess Royale XXXII Systeen Chapelle

Each year the organization raises money that goes to people with HIV and AIDS in Utah in the form of $100 checks given during the holiday season. The money can be used for any purpose the recipient chooses.


The theme for this year’s dance is “Wish … A Masquerade Ball.” The idea to center this year’s event around wishes came to Prince Royale 32 Thomas Shaylee when he misheard the title of fellow organizer Princess Royale 32 Systeen Chapelle’s favorite Christmas song.

“We were going through Christmas songs and movies, and Systeen said that her favorite song was “Grown Up Christmas List.” I thought she said “Grown Up Christmas Wish,” so I thought we could do the ball around wishes,” said Shaylee.

As part of the wish theme, RCGSE members and volunteers will decorate the Rose Wagner’s Black Box Theatre in nighttime colors, such as blue, purple, silver and black. Also, the theater’s sophisticated lighting system will be used to heighten the evening’s drama and mystery.

 “Now picture that with the masks as being the only brightly-colored things, in colors like red, pinks and green,” said Chapelle.

 “The idea is to make it like wishing upon a star,” added Shaylee. “It’s also going to be centered around the Venetian style of masquerade — a bit more classy, as opposed to [Mardi Gras] beads.”

The theater’s doors will open at 4:00 p.m. with a dinner served at 5:00 p.m. According to Chapelle, the meal will be “traditional American” offerings like turkey, ham, potatoes and a wide selection of desserts. Adults 21 and over can also order from an open bar. The drag performance following at 6:00 p.m. will be the Court’s “last ditch” effort to raise money for their Christmas PWA fund. To help raise money for this fund, the evening will include a silent auction across from the bar featuring a number of items including gift baskets and adult novelties from local merchants.

During the evening, attendees can also place cash and personal check donations in baskets located near the stage.

At press time, the PWA Christmas fund stood at $5,339. Last year, the Court raised $11,000 to benefit people with AIDS living in Utah.

“We really hope we can get as much as we can so everyone on our list can be taken care of,” said Chapelle.

Two additional events will precede this year’s SnowBall — a Christmas drag show for in-town performers at the Paper Moon on Dec. 7 and a meet-and-greet for locals and out-of-town performers at the Trapp Door on Dec. 8. Both events will start at 9:00 p.m. and the proceeds from each will go to the PWA Christmas fund as well.

According to Shaylee, performers from Denver, Las Vegas and Boise are scheduled to attend the Trapp Door mixer, including current monarchs from the Imperial Sovereign Gem Court of Idaho Emperor 30 Paris Delavonté Hilton Starr and Empress 30 Vanity Starr St. James and Gem Empress 28 Chaise Manhattan.

Although the show will include guests from out of town, Shaylee was quick to stress that locals who want to do drag can get up on stage, especially if they want to perform and never have before.

“You don’t have to be a member of the Court to perform,” he said. “We welcome that. We’re not going to turn anyone away.”

Although the SnowBall’s theme changes yearly, the amount of time members of the Court, volunteers and especially the reigning Prince and Princess put into making the evening a success never changes. Laughing, Chapelle said that putting the ball together has become her social life over the past few months.

“It’s quite a responsibility, but it’s very fulfilling,” she said.

And often, the real reward comes after the streamers and glitter have been swept away. Of all the people with AIDS who received financial help after last year’s ball, one story particularly stands out to Chapelle. One year a Prince and Princess visited a house to deliver a check, and an unexpected person answered the door.

“This little girl came running outside and gave them each a hug. She said she was going to use her money to get presents for her siblings,” Chapelle related. “To see someone that young suffering from AIDS, and someone who was using that money so selflessly … well, the Prince and Princess had to take a two-hour break so they could stop crying.”

Tickets for Wish…A Masquerade Ball are $20 and available at the door or through ArtTix box offices. To mail a donation to the PWA Christmas fund, send check or well-concealed cash to The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire, P.O. Box 11793, Salt Lake City UT 84147. For more information about the Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire and its charitable work, visit rcgse.org.

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