First dinner, then a drag show. That’s how this benefit for 12-year-old Myles Hartwig starts on this Friday night. Around 7pm, people begin passing through the performance-hall doors in the back section of 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, each one paying thirty dollars and receiving a red, heart-shaped sticker to wear on their clothing.
The benefit is put together by Myles’ uncle, Marek Hartwig, and his partner Ron Chaille. Myles was born with a hole in his heart and needs experimental treatments to keep his heart strong until he’s old enough to receive a transplant; however, insurance won’t cover it.
“We knew we had to do something for entertainment,” Hartwig says. “And I know every drag queen in Chicago…”
Using their own personal connections through work and friends as well as through social networking and their Web site, Chaille and Hartwig, along with Ashley Ballou and Vicki Kubota, spread the word about their cause and event.
By the time the show starts shortly after 9pm, $35,000 has been raised. The Club Krave Divas, a group of female impersonators, sing and dance to some of Myles’ favorite music for two hours and donate all of their tips to the cause. For their finale, the group performs a medley from “Wicked” and, to the crowd’s surprise, is joined on stage by Myles in costume.
“He’s 12 but his maturity level is much higher than that,” Hartwig says about Myles and his working with the Divas. “He loves to dance…We took him there for rehearsal which was two nights before. He had the time of his life. He looks at them as performers.” (Beth Wang)