Drag queens to help transform contestants at charity fundraiser

Amber Nickel, owner of Pawsh Wash and Pet Health Market, doesn’t consider herself to be the pageant queen type, but Jan. 26, Nickel will be transformed from a regular business owner into a glamorous performer, during the second annual Transformations By Invitation Only Charity Gala.

The charity event isn’t typical of Lawrence fundraisers, say Brandon Eisman and Bronda Silvers, principals of B2 Productions who organized Transformations By Invitation Only.

Ten women in the community are nominated to compete in the event. After agreeing to participate, they are then matched up with a drag queen who acts as their consultant. The contestant must prepare to model glamorous clothes, perform a talent, and answer an interview question. The consultant helps with everything from picking out an evening gown to giving the contestant tips and tricks for performing onstage. A panel of five judges chooses the winner, who gets to choose which local organization will receive $10,000.

“I’m involved in a lot of fundraising and charity events, and this was just such a unique event in Lawrence,” Nickel says. “It tends to be more casual in Lawrence, and this was glamorous and entertaining and something very different.”

Nickel attended Transformations By Invitation Only last year and was inspired to be part of the event. As soon as the show was over, she approached Eisman and Silvers about participating in the next one.

“Watching these regular women doing it for a good cause and thinking I’d get to do it once in my life, and being able to be a rock star or beauty queen for one evening and for a good cause, it was right up my alley,” she says. “… literally as I was driving home I was thinking of what talent I would do.”

Nickel will be competing to win money for a center that doesn’t yet exist in Lawrence — a symbiotic behavioral treatment center to treat both people and dogs who have post-traumatic stress disorder. If she wins, her donation will be seed money used to raise more money to open the center.

“The best part of this whole night is we (the contestants) all win,” Nickel says. “They’re all local charities, they’re all great, they all do good things and could all use the money.”

Transformations By Invitation Only will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St., with libations and food, catered by Maceli’s. After an hour where guests can eat and mingle, the show will begin.

General Admission tickets are available for $35. For more information about Transformations By Invitation Only, visit the event's Facebook page.


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