DON'T RUCK IT UP!
CYCLE 2
By: Matt Cooper

The Baltimore Flamingos would like to thank everyone who came to the performance. You all helped us raise $3,084 for our club!
Anyone that has been to or played in a rugby match knows how electric and addicting the energy feels, and our 2nd cycle of our biggest fundraising event of the year, Don’t Ruck It Up, was no different. Some of your favorite Baltimore Flamingos traded in their cleats for high heels, their rugby kits for skirts, dresses, and ball-bearing onesies (looking at you Sinead!) and their rucks for death drops. Our glitter beard pit crew put on their best sparkly pink Daisy Dukes and got ready to pick cabbage quicker than they can pick a dropped pass and OH HONEEEEYYY... was it a sight to see! We had some great fun and some great laughs, but you know what is not a laughing matter? Raising $3084 for the whole weekend !!!
Before we jump into the highlights, let me say this: every single one of my sisters on that stage absolutely killed it. I couldn’t have been more proud to stand in front of the audience at the end of the show and take a bow with this team, whether they were in drag, pit crew, or there to support.

And now that that’s out of the way, let’s spill some tea, shall we?!
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Washington Heights, our favorite queen (and our least favorite center to go against in a scrimmage), was gracious enough to host this event and opened with a medley of Beychella performances and ended on the unofficial song of the Flamingos, "APESHIT". This got everyone, including myself, ready to pop all the way off. First up for the performers, was Ivana Chokeya, getting the show off to a hot start with the Britney classic “Circus,” which set the tone for Fangloria Succubussy to come out and absolutely slaughter us with her performance of “Once Upon a Time” by Mariahlynn. Next was Zer’rah Fuchs Givans, who delivered a sassy performance of “Swish Swish” by Katy Perry. Zer'rah featured a wig so pink it would make P!nk herself green with envy.

Next was Jackie O’Daniels, the life of the party backstage (thanks for those drinks girl!). Jackie came out ready to party with her rendition of “Cool Rider” from the Grease 2 soundtrack. She might have been pink, but she was no lady with the way she worked that chair and her favorite audience members.

Once the stage was all full of that Grease Lightning, we welcomed Tori Anus to the stage. I gave this beautiful little disaster her costume for the night and lawd she did not disappoint! Performing to the song of all our angsty teen years, “Misery Business” by Paramore, she rocked the house down and got us all ready to put on an entire tube of eyeliner and a pair of dirty old Chuck Taylor’s.

Next up was my good sis, Sh’lita Biscuit, performing a medley of too many damn songs for me to remember and type out. That mashup paid off though as she delivered one of the most sickening performances of the evening and honestly put me and the rest of the performers on notice.The bar was set, and it was time to pass it!

Lutka Mae was up next and she kept the pace with her performance of “Not Myelf Tonight” by Christina Aguilera. Next up was none other than my own sickening self, Miss O’Thelioma. I had to perform to the song of my childhood, the song that my mom used to have my babysitters play to calm me down, and the song that I’m pretty sure made me gay: "You Drive Me Crazy", by the one and only Miss Britney Jean Spears. A lot of things happened; I tossed my wig around, I seductively gave my sunglasses to a stunning audience member, and I delivered several of my iconic Coop Scoops.

Let’s just say this... My performance affected you AND your loved ones, and I collected ALL of that financial compensation honey.

Next up was another one of my best squirrel friends, Miss Stealya Manz… Honestly, she.shut. it. down. Her mashup of Beyoncé, Ciara, and her iconic dialogue lip-sync was the most groundbreaking thing I saw that night, and I had to give it up to her. I watched her performance, shrieked with glee, and then got a nice gentleman at the bar to buy me a drink as my consolation prize. But we still weren’t done! 

Next up was Koko Nuttmelque performing what is now one of my favorite mashups on my playlist, a combination of “Side to Side” and “God is a Woman” by the pop icon herself, Ariana Grande. Miss Koko knew what she was doing, and she sure as hell had everyone in the audience waving dollars side to side while praising the divinely feminine performance they had just witnessed.

Izzy Gayornah was the next performer to hit the stage to the tune of “Let’s Have a Kiki”. She might’ve tried to steal my look with her sunglasses, but sis threw one hell of a kiki for us on that stage!

Wrapping up our show was our fearless leader, my good friend, and my very own drag mother, Sinead O’Strongdrink. Y’all, my mother is a WOMAN. Just because a loose ball may have popped out at one point does not mean she did not absolutely slaughter her performance and leave us all begging for an even stronger sip of that Kool-Aid (just kidding, it was really rosé).

THE FINALS

When it came time for the semi-finals, it was no surprise to many that Sh’lita and Koko faced off against each other along with Sinead and Stealya Manz. While Sh’lita and Koko killed it to one of my all-time favorite songs, “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé and… that other guy… Sinead and Stealya got down and dirty to “No Tears Left to Cry” and oh honey, by the grace of God (Ariana Grande) there was not a tear in the house. We all got out lives, blessed be, kitty girl.

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, all 4 contestants made it to the final round to lip sync for the crown to “Pound the Alarm” by “Queen” of rap, Nicki Minaj. The final was almost as messy as Ms. Minaj’s album release, but there was some actual skill involved so we’ll give it a TOOT in this review. There was a biscuit, there were poppers, there were strobe lights, and it all came down to the one moment of truth… The winner of the Baltimore Flamingos Don’t Ruck It Up Cycle 2, IS…. Miss Stealya Manz! You’re a winner baby, and we love you!

Reflections: Mulan Style

Looking back on this entire experience brings up a lot of emotions for me. Aside from the sickening looks, the drinks, the Jell-O shots, and the shimmering glitter beard pit-crew, there was something magical and wholesome about that evening that I haven’t felt anywhere else. As members of Maryland’s first and only gay and inclusive rugby team, many of the Flamingos feel a sense of community and welcoming on the team that they’ve never known anywhere else. I know that for me personally, I had never felt more like myself or more confident in who I truly am until I put on one of those pink jerseys and gave it my all with my brothers on the pitch.

Then, all of a sudden, this event came around and some of my brothers became my sisters in drag, and the rest were there in all of their gay and inclusive glory to support a cause that means so much to all of us. That gave me a home here in Baltimore. The support from our friends and family means more than we can put into words, and it is something we never take for granted. There was a special feeling in the air at the end of the show; one of safety, inclusivity, acceptance, and most importantly, happiness. When you have a team like that and get to celebrate with them like we did that night, it doesn’t matter who walked away with the crown. To everyone that participated or came out to support us, thank you. We cannot wait to make you proud on the pitch for the Fall season before returning to the stage for what is guaranteed to be an even more epic Cycle 3!