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Out of the Closet

Kansas City LGBT Designers and Performers Talk Fashion

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Above image credit: Dressing area of Melinda Ryder full of dresses designed by Kirk Nelson (photo: Sandy Woodson)

Where can we get a fashion fix with the loss of the West 18th Street Fashion show this June? If you miss the glamour, color, humor and sparkle of this event, which has been rescheduled for October due to the ongoing pandemic, you’ve come to the right place.

Flatland recently visited with seven local designers of drag fashion, and created the following slideshows. Consider this a virtual fashion show to hold you over until the real thing happens.

  • Kirk Nelson
  • Kirk Nelson's sewing machine
  • Melinda Ryder Pride Dress
  • Detail of Pride dress
  • Melinda Ryder in Pride Dress
  • Pink dress with feathers
  • Photo of ostrich feathers
  • Purple dress
  • Melinda Ryder in purple dress
  • Clothing
  • Orange and blue dress
  • Red outfit detail
  • Red outfit pant leg detail

Kirk Nelson has been designing and creating Melinda Ryder’s costumes for over 30 years.

  • Ryan Webster aka Moltyn Decadence
  • Tie Dress
  • Detail on Tie dress
  • Tie Dress back
  • Moltyn Decadence
  • Rose embroidered costume
  • Rose costume detail
  • Green Dress
  • Green dress detail

Ryan Webster, aka Moltyn Decadence, won Miss Gay United States at Large in 2018. (Special thanks to Mary Schmidt for the mannequin).

  • Andy Chambers
  • Alan Dunham
  • Andy Chamber's workshop
  • Sister Glamarama Ding Dong
  • Traditional nun costume
  • Ankh
  • Coronet
  • Traditional vestments
  • Guard Vestments
  • Phil La Joque-Strapp
  • Doughnut dress
  • Doughnut Dress detail

Andy Chambers and Alan Dunham are co-owners of Wonderland. Both were the founders of the City of Fountain Sisters, the local chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which began in 1971 with five men wearing their “Sound of Music” nun costumes. The men walked around the city entertaining everyone in their path, but later went on to work with traditional nuns helping the homeless.

  • Darren Huffman and Peyton Westfall
  • Pink Balloon Dress
  • Pink Balloon Dress detail
  • Purple Balloon Belt
  • Purple Balloon Dress detail
  • Purple Balloon Belt detail
  • Photo of Kissy Lee
  • Photo of Astro the Clown
  • Kissy Lee and Astro

Darren Huffman, aka Kissy Lee, and Peyton Westfall, aka Astro, are co-owners of Pop Culture Sculptures and both are participants in Drag Survivor KC. Although officially not a part of the business, their drag design work set them apart for the organizers of the World Balloon Convention. The four costume changes during their 30 minutes on stage sealed their reputation for creating outfits that can withstand performing.

  • Dick Von Dyke
  • Dick Von Dyke
  • Pirate costume
  • Pirate costume detail
  • Red Jacket costume
  • Red Jacket costume detail
  • Dick Von Dyke
  • Von Dyke at Missie B's

Dick Von Dyke really enjoyed hosting and performing at Missie B’s in Kansas City but is now on his way to Minneapolis. (Special thanks to Mary Schmidt for the mannequin).

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