Val-O-Ween Launches Its 2012 Event with a Halloween Tea Dance
October 28, 2011
by John Long
Joshua Minnis is the newly elected co-chair, along with co-chair Kimberly McEvers, for Val-O-Ween, a fundraiser sponsored by the Millennial League to benefit the AIDS Service Foundation. The Feb. 10, 2012, event at the Beaumont Club in Westport will mark the third year for Val-O-Ween, which combines the hearts-and-roses holiday with the frightful day of chills.
Minnis said, “Just know that at Val-O-Ween, our goal is that if you are a hater of Valentine’s Day as so many of us [are">, Val-O-Ween is an event to make Valentine’s Day suck less.”
The theme for the February Val-0-Ween will be Scary Carrie Prom.
“This will be a show within itself that I’m really excited to bring to people,” Minnis said. Crowning prom royalty will be part of the fun, he said.
The Millennial League, an affiliate of the AIDS Service Foundation, is a group of young adults that promotes HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention among all ages and cultures.
The large open area at the Beaumont Club will help Val-O-Ween attendees in the VIP area and the regular-admission attendees mix more easily, Minnis said. Such mixing was more difficult at the multi-level Madrid, the event’s former location, he said.
Making those conversations possible “is kind of the whole purpose of the Millennial League,” he said. “Creating that dialogue — our generation, their generation and all of that.”
The league hopes to attract more people by holding the event in Westport, Minnis said. Previous Val-O-Weens drew 400 or 500 people and now they hope to have at least 700 or more.
The main musical act will be the group Beautiful Bodies.
“They have a following that is totally different, that we’re not touching now. So we’re really excited to see who comes in. And the Beaumont has that concert crowd and the 20s and 30s and 40s that we’re aiming for.”
Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The VIP area tickets are $75 per person with a private party and food.
“There will be swag bags. Halls has kicked in quite a lot of money to sponsor the swag bags. They’re the official apparel sponsor,” he said.
Regular admission includes access to the entire evening of entertainment, including emcees and entertainers Missy Koonce, Ron Megee, Jessica Dressler and Chadwick Brooks, in addition to Beautiful Bodies and DJ Sheppa. The regular admission ticket also includes bottomless Absolut vodka drinks, and other cocktails are available at regular drink prices.
“As many cocktails [Absolut"> as their heart desires. It is by far the cheapest charity event of the year,” Minnis laughed. Although you must be 21 or over to drink, all ages are welcome, Minnis said.
He said the board of the Millennial League “mirrors’ the board of the AIDS Service Foundation. Jessica Cox is the current president of the three-year old organization.
“Currently the president of the Millennial League takes a seat on the AIDS Service Foundation board and acts as a liaison between the two.” Minnis said that Michael Lintecum, Chadwick Brooks and Ryan Gove from the AIDS Service Foundation serve as advisers to the Millennial League.
Oct. 30 is the official kickoff event for the Millennial League’s Val-O-Ween. This event, called the Halloween Tea Dance, will be from 4 to 8 p.m. at Bistro 303, and there will be an after-party later that evening at Missie B’s.
“I’m so excited,” Minnis said. “What Bistro 303 and their patrons have done for us is they’ve managed to raise money for a $1,000 first prize in the costume party.”
Tickets to the Oct. 30 Tea Dance are $5, which is a donation to the Millennial League. To enter the Costume Contest, a party-goer only needs to buy their $20 Val-O-Ween ticket that day.
When I asked whether he knew who the judges were, Minnis said, “Yes! It’s a bit of a gimmick! It’s your mom! My mother, J.P.(John Patrick)’s mother, Jessica Cox’s mother and Chadwick Brooks’ mother. We’re working on Matt Anderson’s mother, but we’re not sure yet.”
None of the Millennial League members can enter the contest, Minnis said, so the judges won’t have to contend with that possible conflict of interest.
Minnis, 25, credits his mother for much of his support as a gay man and said he came out to his family when in high school. He now does freelance graphic design and works as a waiter at the Chaz restaurant on the Plaza. He has worked at the Unicorn Theatre and has a degree in theatre from Central Missouri State University. He lives in Kansas City with his partner, Jeremy Johnston.
“Millennial League is focused on the 18- to 30-year-old demographic. Tea Dance, so far, has been the people like us, and we’d really like to branch out a bit with this launch party. It’s again that cross-generational thing,” he said. He says that “one of the most important things about educating this demographic is creating a dialogue with the generation that dealt with this epidemic in a way that we haven’t dealt with it.”
Minnis said that the Millennial League hopes to work with PFLAG, Passages and other groups to reach people under 18. That is one of the benefits of welcoming people under age 21 at Val-O-Ween. Minnis said that they’re also working with Santiago Vasquez at the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project to translate into Spanish much of what they’re doing.
Besides Val-O-Ween, the Millennial League does monthly Tea Dances from 4-8 pm at Bistro 303 and also the annual Code Red party for AIDS Walk.
When speaking about HIV being minimalized by some young people, Minnis is passionate about education.
“It’s not something that you want. And not that people should be terrified to have sex either,” he said. “Our generation isn’t afraid of this disease, I don’t think, in a way that the generations before us were, because we haven’t seen it kill people, kill our friends. The fact remains, though, that just because people are not dying en masse anymore doesn’t mean the disease is any less dangerous or less hurtful. It hurts us in all kinds of ways. It’s something that we have the power to and should be able to stamp out. And so that’s what I want.”
Minnis credits Terry Newell and Chadwick Brooks for helping to form the Millennial League’s logo and identity, as well as Jessica Cox, Matt Anderson and the other people who have been working on the events.
I asked Minnis whether he ever gets tired of remembering how to spell Millennial League, and he laughed and said, “I am exhausted at spelling Millennial League. Two L’s and two N’s. Thank God for spell check.”
The kick-off party for Val-O-Ween is the Oct. 30 Halloween Tea Dance at Bistro 303, 303 Westport Rd., Kansas City, Mo. from 4-8 pm. Grand prize is $1,000 for those who have purchased $20 tickets to Val-O-Ween and general admission is $5.
Val-O-Ween “Scary Carrie Prom” will be held from 8 p.m. to midnight Feb. 10, 2012, at the Beaumont Club, 4050 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door, and VIP tickets are $75. For more information, visit www.aidswalkkansascity.org.