Archive for Monday, January 20, 2014

Lawrence women ‘transform’ for charity pageant

January 20, 2014


If You Go

What: Transformations 2014 Charity Gala

When: A libations hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by the main event at 7 p.m. Jan. 25.

Where: Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.

Cost: Tickets for general admission are $35

On an average day, Assistant County Administrator Sarah Plinsky reviews budgets, creates spreadsheets and attends meetings.

But on Saturday, Plinsky will forgo the standard routine. In a wig, gown and four-inch heels, she will act as a beauty queen during the Transformations Charity Gala, an annual pageant in which Lawrence women compete to win prize money for a local nonprofit of their choosing.

“I thought it sounded like a really neat opportunity to live out that rock star fantasy of performing on a sold-out stage,” Plinsky said. “A combination of factors led me, a person who doesn’t do things spontaneously, to say, ‘What the heck. I want to go for it.’”

Lawrence resident Brandon Eisman, who performs as his alter ego Deja Brooks, serves as the show’s creator, organizer and host. He started Transformations in 2012 as a nontraditional way to benefit the community.

“First and foremost, we wanted to make this an event that’s definitely unique to Lawrence,” Eisman said. “It’s not happening anywhere else.”

The 10 contestants must wow a panel of five judges to win up to $10,000 for their charity. Plinsky will compete for Just Food, the Douglas County food bank.

And she won’t be going at it alone. As in previous years, each Transformations contestant is paired with a female impersonator, or drag queen, to serve as a guide throughout the competition. Gabby Junio, a Kansas City-based tailor and female impersonator, has taken up the task of designing and constructing Plinsky's gown.

“I’m really trying to be a sponge and soak up all the experience he has behind this process,” Plinsky said. “I would not be able do this at all if it hadn’t been for Gabby.”

Returning audience members can expect a new addition at this year’s event, Eisman said. A people’s choice award will be calculated from texts and streaming of live Tweets.

A libations hour will precede the main event, which begins at 7 p.m. at Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St. To purchase tickets, visit


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