Katy January was making her breakfast when I came through the door. Sizzling turkey bacon was pulled from a cast iron skillet, and replaced with egg whites set to scramble. She grated a hunk of Tillamook cheddar and pressed some coffee, and then we sat down to talk. Coffee steamed from within a blocky, handcrafted mug, and the gray of the morning light caught on the plants in the dining room. In a typically Oregonian setting, I was talking with a typically extraordinary Oregonian.
January, a noted local bartender and bar manager of Aqua, as well as one of the original Sick Town Derby Dames (she closed out their last game of the 2012 season with a power jam that obliterated a 20-plus point gap and won the bout by one point), is also the president of the organization that brings Cloud and Kelly’s Public House’s Rainbow in the Clouds dance party to life every month.
Full Spectrum Productions was founded in the summer of 2011, when Dan Savage visited Corvallis as the keynote speaker for Gay Pride Week. Savage took questions from the audience and a theme popped up.
“There were a lot of people complaining; the topic was that there was no scene in Corvallis, no gay scene. There’s a lot of gay people here, but there’s nothing really going on. We don’t have a gay coffee shop or a gay bar,” said January. Dan Savage’s advice? “He was like, ‘Bitches, please, just make one. Nobody’s going to create a scene but you!” she laughed.
Inspired, Greg Smith, Carli Landucci, Ali Tomal, and January got permission from Cloud and Kelly’s Public House to throw an LGBT dance party fundraiser for Corvallis’ Alt Prom (a dance event for LGBT youth and allies aged 13 to 19). It was a lot of work, admitted January.
“We went and got posters sponsored, we got Special Occasions to help us out. We built a huge rainbow arch of balloons. We got photo booths, we got cupcakes, we got drag numbers, we had three DJs; it was huge,” January said. “We put up posters, did a Facebook invite, and contacted all the different gay organizations in town, and we had like 200 people in there. It was packed. You couldn’t move through the space it was so busy.”
Clearly a success, Cloud and Kelly’s invited them back for the next month.
While there have been a few changes to Rainbow in the Clouds—cupcakes and glitter were nixed as too messy, and the drag performances are typically limited to one per night—it’s still a raucous, fanciful, and popular event, and proceeds still benefit local LGBT organizations.
“The whole idea was ‘ooh, we could do this and every month we donate a portion of the proceeds to a different gay organization in Corvallis,’” said January. “And then we’re strengthening the community from within the community.”
Full Spectrum is now adding other events to the roster. They’ve coordinated trips to Portland clubs and the Gay Skate at Oaks Park, and even organize a monthly Sunday brunch at local restaurants.
“Brunch has been good for being an all-ages and family-friendly event. We’ve been getting moms, people over the age of 50—all ages can go,” she noted. “We’re trying to figure out ways that we can incorporate other parts of the community and do functions that are more than just Rainbow in the Clouds.”
The next event on the agenda is the infamous Red Dress Party on Saturday, Feb. 16 at SubZero. 2013 will be the party’s first year as a public event—it was previously hosted at January’s home. Invitation was by word of mouth and dependent on one’s willingness to don a red dress… men included. Full Spectrum is also looking into hosting a movie night at the Darkside, and potentially even bringing in comedians for a night of stand-up. Volunteers are welcome and anyone can attend events, gay or straight.
“Corvallis is such an open and accepting community that there isn’t the need for separatism that there has been the last couple generations,” January said. “It’s gotta be [open to] everyone. All or nothing.”
To find out about upcoming Full Spectrum events, “like” their Facebook page, Rainbow in the Clouds, at www.facebook.com/RainbowintheClouds.
by Mica Habarad