Times are changing in Atlanta. As some scenes shift and others wink out of relevance, others continue to build steam. This year, local advocacy group Southern Fried Queer Pride broke the mold with a slew of gig nights that embraced the many shapes, hues, and talents of the city’s queer and trans community, starting with entertainer and organizer MonteQarlo’s flagship CLUTCH party in January. And while these nights consistently dazzle attendees with drag shows, comedy, music, and more, Monte and fellow performer Naomi Munrow (aka Koochi Koochi Ku) have devised an even more radical idea. Tonight, they’re hosting an interactive, QTPOC-centric telethon called CLUTCH GIVES BACK, which SFQP will broadcast across multiple platforms, all to raise money for local transgender activist groups.
In our chat over email, MonteQarlo explains that this multimedia benefit, also dubbed the Clutchathon, arose from a need to shake up the usual routine. “I try to use the CLUTCH space to address the things that bother me about the Atlanta scene,” MonteQarlo says. “Overall, there’s a lack in creativity in the way local events, specifically music events, promote and cater to their audiences. For the most part it’s the same stale formula of making a flyer, posting a Facebook event, and putting on a show that doesn’t surprise anyone or shift anything.” Where other gigs merely invite attendees to watch, CLUTCH GIVES BACK welcomes guests to join in with games, interview segments, “photo ops,” and much more.
And thanks to SFQP’s partnership with Bianca Bratton, creator of the Cinamaker app, viewers at home can also tune in and take part. “Basically the app works as a switcher between various recording devices and allows your livestream broadcast to have the same dynamics as a studio broadcast,” MonteQarlo explains. Through Cinamaker, Clutchathon will stream on the social media channels of SFQP and the multiple artists involved, and encourage the at-home audience to donate at the event’s YouCaring page. Afterwards, those online donations will be divvied out between SFQP, Southerners On New Ground, Comunity Estrella, and Solutions Not Punishment Coalition. MonteQarlo says SFQP hopes to raise $10,000 by the end of the night with “various prizes and gags” from the performers unlocking in real time as contributors approach their goal.
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Munrow devised the notion of a telethon during a brainstorming session for another project, a YouTube series with videographer and performer Jamee Cornelia. The anything-goes aesthetic of the telethon appealed to MonteQarlo and his eclectic designs. “My main inspiration going into this came from all those weird retro public access TV shows from the ‘80s and ‘90s,” he said. “DIY to the max. Straight-to-VHS, EVERYTHINGISTERRIBLE realness.” That do-it-yourself retro vibe drove MonteQarlo to choose 386 Ponce as the Cluthathon’s “studio,” rather than their usual haunt at Mammal Gallery.
As for the gig itself, our host promises a night unlike any other. Several local favorites will join the show, such as Munrow, Cornelia, Loner, Yani Mo, SXYLK, and AGYN. Viewers will also meet the activists behind the organizations involved, such as Toni-Michelle Williams from the Solutions Not Punishment Coalition, Micky Bee from Southerners on New Ground, and TAYLOR ALXNDR from SFQP. “These are the most fabulous, radical, edge-snatching artists on this side of the Mississippi and they are gonna blow everyone away!” MonteQarlo exclaims. “I’m talking epic poetry, unreleased music, skits on par with In Living Color! And I don’t make that comparison lightly. We’ve got some hilarious and wildly creative content in store for everyone.”
In between segments, attendees can also wander about the many tables offering goods and services at CLUTCH GIVES BACK. Grilled Cheese Papi and Kushini Catering of We Suki Suki will offer the eats, while local artists like Shanisia Person, Jesse Pratt Lopez, and Andrew Lyman will present arts and crafts for sale. MonteQarlo even promises free STD testing.
Overall, MonteQarlo hopes that CLUTCH GIVES BACK will bookend a successful year for SFQP’s first round of gigs. “I think CLUTCH has built a solid reputation for being a consistently great artistic haven for Atlanta kweerdos,” he says. “Along with Jay Levy’s MORPH and SFQP’s SWEET TEA series, we’ve helped bridge the audience gap between Atlanta’s burgeoning, college-age music lovers and the less accessible, deviant procurers of the underground art scene.” And if Clutchathon’s all-out antics inspire viewers to give as much as MonteQarlo projects, expect CLUTCH to maintain that scene well into 2018.
CLUTCH GIVES BACK goes down tonight at 368 Ponce. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 for regular admission and $13 for special Lucky Caller tickets that come with a drink, snack, and CLUTCH merch.