Oasis is Doing an Old School Telethon in Order to Survive
Oasis is in trouble. The legendary SOMA nightclub, which for six years has given Queer performers of all stripes a stage on which to perform, is in danger of closing permanently. The club has been closed for much of the past year due to the pandemic, which means no income. They have come up with creative ways to try and stay afloat, such as staging shows on the club’s rooftop and launching Meals on Heels, a drag delivery service. The club has also taken to putting on virtual shows, but it wasn’t enough. Owner/performer D’Arcy Drollinger has to pay a hefty rent each month in order to hold onto the club’s space, and there are other expenses such as utilities, operations, and paying off debt that was accrued while the club was closed.
“A venue like Oasis is expensive to run while things are in full swing,” Drollinger tells BAS. “So to be closed with no steady stream of income is a disaster. The sad part is that trying to stay open with the very limited capacity and all of the regulations around Covid safety, we actually lose more money than staying closed. We were able to subsidize that for a bit with our PPP and SBA loans, but when those ran out we had to spend savings. Both the club’s and mine.”
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And now the money is running out. And so to raise critical funds that are needed in order to ensure that Oasis survives the pandemic, Drollinger has organized a telethon. On Saturday, March 6, from 12 noon until 12 midnight, dozens of Queer performers, drag queens, drag kings, strippers and others, will perform online while a phone bank of drag queens will take donations from viewers who call in. There will also be an auction of fabulous items from within the community.
Oasis has become a fixture in the LGBT community, a place where a diverse array of performers, men, women, drag queens and kings, and trans performers can find an open stage and an enthusiastic audience. Drollinger explains why the club represents the full spectrum of the community.
“I love a good performance,” Drollinger said. “Bottom line. The Oasis stage is open to anyone who’s willing to bring the magic, take a few risks, and put on a great show.”
One of those who will be putting on a good show during the telethon is Leigh Crow, drag king extraordinaire, who has become well known for her portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk in the Star Trek Live performances at Oasis. Crow previously attracted a huge fan base as Elvis Herselvis, the first female Elvis Presley impersonator.
“I have a personal investment in Oasis as it is my clubhouse where I get to play and put on shows with my friends,” Crow tells us. “D’Arcy and I have been friends for 30+ years and he has always included me in his productions and I am so grateful.”
Crow feels that it’s important to save Oasis, as so many community venues have been lost. She reiterated the club’s commitment to diversity.
“D’Arcy and Oasis have been very supportive to me and many other female and Gender Queer performers,” Crow said. “They have been home to our award winning drag king cabaret Dandy that I co-produce with my partner Ruby Vixen. We are now doing Dandy digitally on their streaming platform. Ruby and I will be singing a fun duet for the telethon.”
Also on hand for the telethon will be beloved and iconic Sister Roma of the Sisters or Perpetual Indulgence. Sister Roma, the most photographed nun in the world, can always be counted upon to step up to the plate for a good cause.
“Now more than ever the Oasis truly is just that,” the Sister said. “An oasis of Queer talent, joy, entertainment and community in a vast sea of now shuttered LGBTQ owned and operated businesses. We simply cannot allow another sacred space to fall victim to the pandemic.”
At press time, Roma still wasn’t sure exactly what she’ll be doing in the telethon, but assures us that she’ll do whatever her friend D’Arcy needs her to do.
“In a town hall held last Spring, a survey revealed Oasis to be one of the most highly ranked venues as being safe and welcoming to Queer, gnc, BIPOC, and trans folkx overall,” said Roma. “I’ve personally hosted shows at Oasis including the annual SF Drag King Contest with Fudgie Frottage, Ru Paul’s Drag Race viewing parties with Honey Mahogany, and a Hollywood Squares inspired adult live game show with Dan Karkoska and Maria Konner. In my experience, everyone is celebrated and welcome at Oasis.”
Drollinger promises to perform a few numbers during the telethon, but will mostly be hosting.
“The roster is fantastic from local performers and drag celebrities, to Ru Girls, to national stars, politicians, filmmakers,” Drollinger said. “The list goes on. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of people that want to be part of this.”
The telethon can be viewed at the club’s donations page: www.givebutter.com/saveoasis
Donations can also be made by calling 415-742-1044 on the day of the event.
“I really believe in what Oasis does,” said Drollinger. “And I was getting really scared all this hard work to keep going during the pandemic could be lost. The amount of support we’re feeling really does give me hope.”
Mark your calendars. Saturday March 6 12 noon-12 midnight is when you can help save Oasis.