[Above photo: Designer Terri Weaver, voted People’s Choice winner this year, stands behind her muse and model, Bella Duballe. Weaver also won the judge’s award for Most Fabulous!]
story by Dana Cooper | photos by Addie James
Condomonium 2018, which was hosted Saturday night at Playhouse on the Square, was an action-packed, rollicking good time for all. Proceeds from Condomonium benefit CHOICES Memphis, a reproductive health center that provides inclusive care focused on dignity and respect.
As in years past, Condomonium 2018 featured a live auction, raffle, cabaret, and its signature condom fashion show, for which designers put together fun and fabulous garb made at least partially from condoms. Upon arriving, each attendee received a bag of condoms to cast as votes—one condom equals one vote—for their favorite designs.
The cabaret, which was emceed by Lisa Michaels, featured comedic acts KC Shormina, Latoya Tennille, Angela Garrone and Katrina Coleman, who kept the crowd in stitches with their clever routines. Lady Doo Moi’s riveting burlesque show captivated the audience, and Moth and Fantasia Bordeaux were on hand to work everyone into a frenzy with their spirited choreography.
Lisa Michaels, emcee, and Holly Calvasina, Director of Development and Marketing, CHOICES
A two-part live auction bookended the fashion show. Both were emceed by special celebrity guests Ian Harvie, a comedian, actor and trans man who has appeared in “Transparent” and “Will and Grace,” and Molly Gaebe, a writer and performer with Lady Parts Justice League and improv comedian from New York City’s sketch group Buzz Off, Lucille. The dynamic duo led the crowd through bidding for a mini-vacation package at the Peabody and a four-night stay in Denver, Colorado. The third and final auction item was lunch with Tennessee State Senator “Hot” Lee Harris at Felicia Suzanne’s. Generous bidders helped raise more than $2,100 for CHOICES through the auction alone.
Models and designers sashayed their way across the stage and down the catwalk for the fashion show, and each design was met with roaring applause. Activists Tami Sawyer and Jasmine Tasaki presented awards for Most Radical and Most Fabulous condom couture, but the night belonged to designer Terri Weaver and model Bella Duballe, who won the event’s top honors in addition to receiving Tasaki’s vote for Most Fabulous.
Activists Tami Sawyer and Jasmine Tasaki present the awards
“Queen Bee” won the prize for Most Radical costume from Tami Sawyer
Bella DuBalle & designer Terri Weaver
Weaver, whose breathtaking phoenix-inspired costume took more than two and a half months to make, was ready to ascend to greatness with her fiery finery consisting of more than 700 hand-cut condom feathers inspired by the latex’s gorgeous yellow-to-red gradient. Despite her calm and collected demeanor, Weaver’s vision demanded painstaking work right up until show time. “I just made the last stitch 15 minutes before we left to come here,” Weaver said.
For 2018, Condomonium organizers put together a new award, the Condomonium Champion Award, for outstanding support to both CHOICES and other Memphis-area causes. The first recipient was none other than Diane Thornton, in whose name the award will be granted going forward.
Diane Thornton, first recipient of the Condomonium Champion Award
CHOICES executive director Rebecca Terrell says she believes this year’s event will get CHOICES closer than ever to its $4.2 million goal for opening a new location featuring three suites for midwife births. CHOICES’ model has inspired other clinics as far away as San Francisco, and events such as Condomonium help the group extend its mission to provide judgement-free care to our community and beyond.
“We are changing reproductive health care in America,” Terrell said.