Out and about with Betty Desire
What: Betty Desire: Coming Home
When: 7 pm Fri., Nov. 17
Where: Lincoln Theatre, Mount Vernon
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
If you’ve ever visited Rumors Cabaret on a Sunday night, chances are you’re familiar with Betty Desire’s cheeky karaoke performances, raunchy humor and live storytelling. But the real story of Betty Desire is one of tireless advocacy for equality and community.
Betty—a character developed by Bellingham resident Matt Endrizzi—has been singing and delighting local audiences for more than 22 years. But for Betty, her performances have always been a way to connect with people and build community.
When she hosts a special career retrospective Fri., Nov. 17 at Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Theatre, audiences attending “Betty Desire: Coming Home” will experience songs from all her past performances, what those songs meant to her, stories from her life and new material. If you’ve never been to one of her shows, Betty says to expect relaxed, comfortable times of laughter, listening to music and connecting with people. She’s also notorious for interviewing complete strangers, so be prepared to be singled out.
“I started Betty not because I wanted to be an entertainer, but because it gave me the vehicle to connect with so many people,” she says. “The mask of theater really allows me to walk up to a table and instigate a conversation. So I work at finding someone who is solitary and bringing them into the rest of the group.”
Endrizzi, who was born and raised in Mount Vernon, says he grew up wanting to be a pastor and graduated from Western Bible College in Clayburn, British Columbia. Somewhere along the line, Matt became Bellingham’s most iconic drag queen instead. And although her plans changed, Betty says she eventually realized she didn’t need to be in a church to have a congregation because her performances allowed her to connect with individuals in a way that hadn’t been possible before.
“I wasn’t off track thinking that I should go into pastoral work,” Betty says. “What I didn’t realize at the time was that my pastoral work was my daily life. Every time I do a Betty show I want to leave the audience uplifted in some way—just like a pastor would. I really feel like my job is to do everything I can to spread joy and compassion because I believe we all need that. Especially right now.”
In addition to continuing to perform on a regular basis and publish The Betty Pages—described as “Cascadia’s most inclusive alternative-lifestyle tabloid”—Betty says her next goal is to raise money and create an historical society so people have a resource for past accomplishments and failures of the gay community that she has called home for so long.
“That’s the plan for the next 62 years of my life,” she says. “Making sure the accomplishments of us old farts aren’t lost n the sands of time.”
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