Photos by Shai Yammanee Photography. Video by Rick Barcode.
This year, the Las Vegas PRIDE Parade took place on September 5th, and as always it paraded its glorious self through the Downtown District along 4th St. from Charleston to Fremont, admired and cheered by thousands. After a year of ‘umming’ and ‘ahhing’ about whether Skin City would or could take part for a 3rd year, we realized it came down to a simple decision — “Go big” or “Don’t go at all”. For those of you who know Skin City, we of course chose to “Go Big” and made a huge splash, as only we know how. The Skin City Committee of Robin Slonina, Ross Gibson, Kat Day and Jessica Westergom devised the theme of “The Naughty-cal Adventures of Skin City Body Painting”, a sea-faring, oceanic, under-the-sea based visual treat with an artistic flair that we knew would submerge the crowds in awe! As our 2012 and 2013 floats had grown bigger and better, with an award won each year by us, we again had to step up the pace by knots, this time body painting a total of 31 performers, as well as our non-painted costumed walkers and drivers.
At the stern of the procession carrying our banner was none other than Skin City Model Director Carolin Feigs and newly appointed Head of Costuming, Kat Day. Huge props (pun intended) going out to Kat who not only recruited the entire contingency from the always-willing and ever-so talented cast of Jubilee, but also created every costume piece worn by all 30 something members, and as the pictures show, these costumes were no small undertaking!
The truck driven by Jeremy Menist and Danni Flahive was decked out with our real life gay and lesbian Mermen and Mermaid couples, Justin Sullivan & Thomas Ev, as well as Chantell Adams & Alexis Freksco. The truck pulled our “Floatboat” – a real water-worthy boat lent to us by Eeka Stosic. Again, Kat designed the stunning wave-like sea decoration around the boat, and 4 hot naval seamen Joshua Ross, Jose Rodrigo, JD Aubrey Smith and Stephen Lugowe were body painted and strutted aboard the floatboat. Joining them to his absolute glee was little Leo Slonina and mama and Skin City owner Robin Slonina. (He cried the next day when it had to be explained to him that the parade won’t take place again until next year. He wants every day to be Gay Pride!)
Nickole Muse displayed her gorgeous mermaid tail and Cyberlock wig on the back of the floatboat. All around both port and starboard, the entire group bobbed and swirled, our 12 Rainbow Jellyfish: Leah Gruber, Lisa Orchard, Dia Webb, Kirbi Long, Cathy Colbert, Kaiti Reese, Jessica Lane, Dina Auneau, Erika Carpenter, Mikaela Weyland-Smith, Lauren Bjorgan and Greta Jones – all painted metallic silver from head to toe and carrying cellophane LED jellyfish umbrellas. Keeping an eye on everyone’s safety were our 2 hot body painted lifeguards, Adam Barabas and Todd Vincent.
Our two kissing fish, again a real couple, Katherine Richardson and Sarah Weichman played in and around the wake of the boat to give some great photo opportunities to the flashing cameras. Of course we had to give Jonah Wilkins a starring role as the ultimate “Queen of the Seas” / “Sea-Hagatha Christy”, dragged out in all his sea refinery! Even when his heel snapped half way through the parade, there was some handy duct tape to seal it together! But the real spectacle to top our night was our school of 6 rainbow sea creatures swimming up behind our procession, Lora Kelsey as the Tango styled Red Lobster, RJ Hughes as the Orange Clown Fish, Michael Radiff as the Yellow Seahorse, Nathaniel Burich as the Green Sea Turtle, Andrew Branche as the menacing Blue Shark and Jesse Phillips as the 8-legged Purple Octopus.
After a very long day of painting, and a very long wait to get in line at the procession, (position 88 out of 89!) the parade set sail and went swimmingly, and a great time was had by all involved. You could see the impressions we left on the crowd as they soaked in the extent to which we had gone and the talent we had harnessed to create and put together this entire look. Our performers, by no surprise, played and flirted with the crowd and gave their bubbliest performances for the judges and TV cameras at the Grandstand. Leaving the Grandstand, eyes were still on us, no one cared who followed because we were not to be outdone! This was proven the next day at the Pride Festival as they announced the awards for the Parade. As the list of winners was read out, one by one, groups such as Wells Fargo, MGM International, Piranha Nightclub, Bank Of America went up to collect their awards and, we’ll admit it, our hearts were sinking the closer to the end of the announcements it got. Never in our wildest sea-faring dreams did we ever expect that when they announced the winner of the final, most prestigious, Grand Diva Award, would the recipient be… you guessed it: Skin City Body Painting!! Tearing up, Robin ran up to collect the plaque giving the audience a cheeky flash of her Skin City rainbow panties! In 2014, we took home the top prize and when we sea the pictures online, honestly we sea why!!!
A huge thank you the size of the Seven Seas to everyone who took part and got “on board” with us this year, we could not have achieved this huge success without all of you. Mermaid kisses and starfish hugs to all of you from Skin City, and we hope to sea you next year!
Special thanks goes to all the body painters and artists who made this winning vision possible:
Rene Castaneda Gregory “Gia” Gonzalez Liz Gopwani Steven Horlock Letty Lopez Ed Pollick Robin Slonina Corina Smith Lisa Strawther Kiki Toussaint Natalie Tremayne Lucy Veltri Jessica Westergom Jolene Williams Keely Zeelanka