Boybutante Ball hits 30 flirty, fabulous years of Athens drag

The Boybutante Ball celebrates a major anniversary on Saturday, but organizers hope to hit another milestone — raising $1 million to fight HIV/AIDS since the ball’s inception.

Athens’ largest annual drag event turns 30 this year with a fitting theme — Divas Are Forever: 30, Flirty & Fabulous. All proceeds from the ball go to Live Forward, a non-profit supporting people living with HIV in Northeast Georgia.

Tony Kearney, who performs in drag under the name Wild Cherry Sucret, will make the trek up Highway 316 to Athens to emcee part of the show. He started volunteering with Boybutante in 1995 and began emceeing in 1997.

“Boybutante was my chosen family. It was the beginning of me volunteering to raise money,” Kearney (top photo) told Project Q Atlanta. “We really have made a difference in Athens with raising nearly $1 million over the 30 years.”

Organizers of the ball formed an official non-profit, the Boybutante AIDS Foundation, in 1997. And what began with just the annual ball blossomed from there.

“Now the organization does events all year long,” said Kearney, who is on the Boybutante AIDS Foundation’s advisory board.

A slew of events is lined up all this week to celebrate Boybutante’s big birthday. There’s Boybutante bingo at The Foundry on Wednesday, a cocktail pop-up at Heirloom Café on Thursday and a volunteer reunion at the 40 Watt Club on Friday. 

But Saturday brings the main event at the 40 Watt Club, where Boybutante turns 30 and organizers hope to eclipse the $1 million fundraising mark.

“The ball is always the best event of the week,” Kearney said. “There are tons of former queens returning for the celebration.”