Margaret Cho part of Whistler Pride and Ski Festival reinvention

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      She’ll be coming to the mountain when she comes.

      And she’d undoubtedly riff on the double-entendre of that sentence.

      Yes, Margaret Cho, the queen of raunch, fresh from her controversial rice-card stint as a North Korean army general at the Golden Globes, is the headliner of this year’s Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, which runs from Saturday (January 24) to January 31.

      What enabled the organizers to snag the bisexual entertainer (San Francisco comedian Kate Willett will appear with her on Wednesday [January 28]) was a $25,000 grant from the municipality.

      “It’s the largest single talent expense that we’ve ever had in the 23 years of the festival,” Whistler Pride executive producer Dean Nelson tells the Georgia Straight by phone, “so it’s a big step for us to be able to bring such a big name up to the resort, and it just helps to elevate the festival to a whole new level.”

      Speaking of names, you’ve probably noticed that the festival’s old name, WinterPRIDE, is gone.

      Nelson explains that this year, since the organization has a new partner, Sunil Sinha of Big Roger Events, it decided to take the opportunity to reinvent itself.

      “One of the things that we wanted to refresh was the brand identity and try and make it a little bit more specific as to who we are, because there are just so many [similarly named] brands floating out there that it’s kind of confusing to the consumer.”

      With over a dozen Winter Prides around the world—and not all are gay—they chose a more site-specific name for the festival.

      Also gone from this year’s program is the Mr. Gay Canada event. Nelson explains that it wasn’t a great fit for the Whistler festivities.

      “We have too much of an international clientele, whereas they’re not so interested in a national competition like that.”

      Fear not, though, contestant fans, as Nelson says he hopes to restage the annual competition outside of Whistler Pride.

      What they are bringing back is the Better Together Whistler Pride banquet next Thursday (January 29), a benefit for the Rainbow Refugee Committee, which helps people seeking refugee protection due to persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. There will be plenty of laughs and entertainment, as the dinner show will be hosted by comedian Darcy Michael and drag queen Joan-E.

      New this year is a mini queer film festival, with screenings of the feature films Bollywood Beats (followed by a Bollywood party) and Tennessee Queer (followed by a cowboy and cowgirl party), and the short film “Boy Meets Boy” by Vancouver filmmaker Mike Azevedo.

      There are also women-only offerings, including the Snow Bunnies and Chickalicious parties.

      As well, the annual Pride parade will march through the village on January 30. Plus, there’s a pool party, a fetish party, a gender-bender, and DJs galore. As if that isn’t enough, the festival is copresenting Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre as its kickoff in Vancouver.

      Did we mention there’s also skiing?

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