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Surrey MLA will transform into drag for fundraising gala

Surrey Pride Society is hosting “So You Think You Can Drag”at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford
Starchuk will transform into a wild redhead and perform Wynonna Judd’s version of Elvis’ song Burning Love as his drag persona, Ember Sparks. Mike Starchuk, MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale, poses for a photo on March 15, 2022. (File Photo: Malin Jordan)

The MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale will not be wearing NDP orange on the evening of April 13 but will be dressed in black and gold, just like Wynonna Judd.

Mike Starchuk is participating in the second annual Surrey Pride “So You Think You Can Drag” fundraising gala.

“It’s just an upfront, non-political way of raising awareness (for Surrey Pride),” Starchuk said. “As each day goes by, I become a little bit more nervous as to what is coming, but you know it’s for a good cause.”

The fundraising gala is taking place on April 13 at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford (15269 104 Ave) from 5:30- 11 p.m. Tickets were $125 each or $1000 per table.

“The best thing about all of it, you know, with all the with all the humbleness put aside is the event is sold out,” he said. “It’s already a success before the first person stepped on stage and rolls her ankle over and breaks her leg.”

The gala will include a silent auction and a buffet-style meal and live entertainment by the band The Apartment.

Starchuk and four other community members will arrive at the venue a few hours before the gala starts to begin their transformation into drag.

The other community members are Rory Morgan from Surrey Board of Trade, Jose Velazquez, director of supportive housing programs & tenant relations at Atira, Cole Izack, founder and CEO of Back on Track Recovery, and Doug Tennant, CEO of UNITI.

Starchuk will transform into a wild redhead and perform Wynonna Judd’s version of Elvis’ song Burning Love as his drag persona, Ember Sparks.

Background performers will join him on the stage. “Two of my former colleagues will be there in their terminal pants and suspenders and to help me portray this hunk, a hunk of burning love.”

“I got to find a pair of shoes because the ones that they gave me, there’s no way I could walk in those shoes and manage to stay up,” Starchuk said.

After all five have performed, the audience will select a winner. Surrey Pride Society will match up to $5,000 of the funds the winner raises to a charity of their choice. Any remaining net profits will go towards the 2024 Surrey Pride Festival. The 25th anniversary Surrey Pride Festival is scheduled for June 22, 2024, in Civic Plaza.

Starchuk’s charity of choice is the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society. The choice was easy, as he was a former Surrey firefighter and a founding member of the society.

Last year, the audience selected Sayan Baidya as the winner, who chose Surrey Pride Seniors Programming as his charity.

READ MORE: ‘So You Think You Can Drag?’ tickets went on sale on Jan. 15

READ MORE: Transformations for 6 at ‘So You Think You Can Drag’ event in Surrey

Starchuk also plans to let other MLAs know about the Surrey Pride Society and the gala.

He has a two-minute speech in the House on April 9th. He will use over a minute to talk about Surrey Pride and the work that they do. The remaining 45 seconds will be spent talking about his participation in the gala.

“Then make that other plea that if people want to participate in personal donations to help out the Surrey Pride Society, I can direct them to my direct email and help out this hunk, a hunk of burning love.”

Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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