Mark Middleton—better known by his alter ego, Bianca Paige—is a true legend of LGBT Nashville. As friends and community began to suffer and die from a fast-rising epidemic in the late-1980s and early-1990s, this drag queen over the course of her career assisted in raising over a million dollars for HIV/AIDS research.
Bianca (and Mark) fought ‘til the end, and when she passed, the city felt a great loss, holding a memorial that resulted in the closing of parts of Church Street to accommodate the overflow for the shows held after it. Mayor Karl Dean proclaimed the day of her memorial, August 27, Bianca Paige Day in honor of Bianca/Mark's work and service to the community.
This holiday has not been forgotten. Nashville Pride holds a Bianca Paige Day/Mark Middleton Day of Service, and also annually awards a prize in their honor in advance of Pride. The local community has also observed the day ever since. Mathu Potts, an organizer of Bianca Paige Day festivities notes, “Even though it started as two drag queens and a bucket raising what they could for Nashville CARES, the holiday grows each year! Last year's event started at noon at TRAX, involved two continually running stages hosted by Nashville's drag elite, bands signed by many of Nashville's great recording labels, local comedy troupes, media personalities, and more. The program lasted until the very end of the night at 3am.”
This year the event is growing once more, with the addition of a fenced parking lot, a third outdoor main stage, and vendor booth availability. The current list of entertainers and speakers is still growing, and the Bianca Paige Day team is still interviewing and auditioning local performers, musicians and more, but they promise that this year's event will be the most amazing yet.
Already, though, the lineup includes more than twenty drag entertainers, from Play Dance Bar’s Nicole Ellington Dupree to the Satin Dolls and the Misfit Mafia of Trax. Comedians include local talent like Thomas Prunier, as well as personalities including Canadian TV star Hannah Hogan. Musical talent includes both performers and well-known DJs. As the list grows and more acts confirmed, the organizers will post updated information in the event’s Facebook page.
An impressive host of community partners has lined up to support this year’s event. In addition to Pride, organizations like Team Friendly, The Conductors, the Music City Sisters, Ron Sanford Productions, Grand Central Party, as well as Ajax Turner (Bud Light), Lipman Brothers (Jagermeister), and Det Distributing (Miller Lite), are helping produce the event, with many more being added as of this writing.
In order to make it easier for the community to attend, this year’s event will be observed a day earlier, August 26, 2017, with a start time of 3 p.m. Attendees can also look forward to giveaways from such local institutions as Rebel Yell Tattoo, Monolith Tattoo, Blackbird Tattoo and Gallery, Sinema Restaurant, and Peckers Bar and Grill.
For up-to-date info on this still-evolving event, visit the Facebook event page.
Opening DJ: Scott Weaver
Proceeds from Bianca Paige Day 2017 will benefit My House (newly formed HIV assistance organization formed through the combined efforts of Nashville CARES and StreetWorks), Young Brothers United, and the T.Y.M.E. program formed by the Oasis Center which focuses on our transgendered youth.
3:00PM – MY HOUSE Main Stage
Opening Speaker, Marisa Richmond
3:30PM – TYME Indoor Stage
Madelyn J. McCray:The Men Behind The Women, and The City We Love
Dr. Steven Raffanti
5:00PM – MY HOUSE Main Stage
Key Speaker, John Lasiter
5:00PM – TYME INDOOR STAGE
Robin April Newman
5:15PM – MY HOUSE Main Stage
7:00PM – MY HOUSE Main Stage
Chris Sanders, Tennessee Equality Project
7:15 – MY HOUSE Main Stage:
The TRIBUTE featuring:
Nichole Ellington Dupree
9:00 LAUGH TRAX – YBU PATIO STAGE
Tracy Barkley Dixon
11:00 PM Exit Show Featuring:
Bianca Santana Knight
Dyson Schaible, Trinity Monroe
* This event is still in completion stage, and more information and artists are to be listed, and the times listed are subject to change in the next few days. *
TRAX technically opens at noon August 26, so you're more than welcome to come earlier in the day. Doors for Bianca Paige Day open at 230pm.