Dancing clowns, stilt walkers, and glamorous drag queens transformed The Arc of San Francisco, a non-profit advocacy and service organization serving developmentally disabled people, into a circus this past Thursday night.
Circ de l'Arc, a benefit event celebrating the LGBT community and the developmentally disabled, was thought up by Mark Kirk, the Director of Operations and Household Goods Recycling Services at The Arc. Kirk said he saw the need for the Cirque de l'Arc event because he noticed that some of The Arc clients were homosexuals themselves, or questioning their sexuality but weren't able to express it. Kirk, along with other staff members, began a series of classes educating the clients on the issue.
That evening, Kirk was dressed in drag as Kitty Glamour, wearing an '80s-inspired blonde wig and colorful make-up. He had been choreographing a dance for weeks with some of The Arc clients; they were going to perform the opening number that night as the band, "Kitty Glamour and The Arc All Stars" -- to Britney Spears's "Circus," of course.
The benefit was replete with catering, cocktails, silent auctions, and live performances. Dressed up as clowns, bearded ladies, dancing bears and other wild costumes, The Arc clients helped out in various ways. Some were back-up dancers for Kitty Glamour and the other drag performers (including Galilea, who sang a Spanish-language version of "YMCA"). Others served appetizers and refreshments. The rest danced the night away to tunes spun by DJ Page Hodel.
"We like to perform for other people to show them who we are," said Kevin Roach, a client of The Arc. "We have disabilities, but we can still act and we can work."
Roach said he was introduced to performance arts around the age of eight, when his grandparents enrolled him in theatre classes. Tonight, he said, he was going to perform with Kitty Glamour. "I'm going to be the dancing bear in the show," he said.
Roach, who has been a client of The Arc for around 15 years, said that the artistic outlets that the center provided were invaluable to the clients. "Dance and art and work are the magical things in life," said Roach. "I love it, it's me. I think I feel 30 years younger after I do a show."