Carl Han’s alter ego spins up another party benefitting LGBT youth.
“In the pond, nothing’s more beautiful than lotus, the flower of the dawn.”—Vietnamese folk poem
By Donalevan Maines
An elegant lotus blossom, the national flower of Vietnam, adorns the poster for this month’s 13th annual Carl Han’s Love Party in Montrose. “It’s a personal thing for me,” explains Han, who emigrated from Vietnam in 1975 at age nine. The image pays homage to Han’s alter ego, Diva Lotus Blossom (aka DLB).
DLB is part of the shtick that helps to make the jolly Han so fascinating to his many friends and fans. Viewing the world through the eyes of DLB, Han takes a heightened, often-humorous interest in what happens around him—an almost childlike wonder in simple things that too many of us might take for granted.
Han explains that his character bloomed in order to temper his temper. “In the summer of 2005, I had a big fight with my mother, and I decided I would never let that happen again,” he recalls. “I created Diva Lotus Blossom, and I say to myself, ‘I am calm as a lotus blossom in the morning mists of Vietnam.’ [Then] I repeat it to myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
“DLB is his [running] joke,” says Chris Kerr, the clinical director at the Montrose Center, which operates Hatch Youth, the beneficiary of the Love Party. “He believes if you take yourself too seriously, you can never enjoy life.”
The mission of Hatch Youth is to empower youth, ages 13–20, who identify as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and allied (LGBTQIA),” per the center’s website at MontroseCenter.org. The group is dedicated to helping those youth “become positive contributors to society by providing a safe social environment, offering role models and peer support, and sponsoring educational and community-outreach opportunities.”
Hatch Youth was formed in 1987, but didn’t become part of the Montrose Center until about 10 years ago, says Kerr.
The Love Party began two years earlier as a gift to the LGBT community from Han and his best friend and roommate, “Big Papa” Gary Giddings. The format of food, music, and a drag show is basically the same every year, says Kerr, who’s attended all of them.
In 2007, the event became a fundraiser for the annual Hatch Prom for Houston-area LGBTIQA youth ages 13–20. The theme of this year’s prom, set for Thursday, June 1, at Numbers, is “Dystopian Society.”
”We encourage the youth to wear a costume, come in drag, gown, tuxedo, or whatever they’re comfortable wearing—as long as it’s legal,” says Kennedy Loftin, chief development officer at the Montrose Center.
Han deejays at the Hatch Prom with a sound system that he provides, and he makes sure the music is what the youngsters want to hear. “I meet with kids on the prom committee, and they pick their favorite songs. Then my job is to get the clean version of those songs,” says Han. “If, out of a hundred kids, maybe only five like country and western, I ask for country-and-western picks, too, and I encourage everyone to get on the dance floor and support each other.”
Is consideration for others where DLB’s infamous “Charm School” comes in? Han laughs. “Yes, I created the DLB Charm School to let friends know when they do something that upsets me. When there is an infraction, I tell them, ‘You go to Charm School for that.’ We live in an age where people are so easily misunderstood, so easily tempted to state their point of view, so easily upset. So Charm School puts things right. It’s fun and all, but in a way it’s also important.”
Han and Giddings cover all expenses of the Love Party, with every penny that’s raised going to Hatch Youth, including tips from the entertainers who donate their time. “We do not deduct expenses,” says Han, adding that while admission to the Love Party is a suggested $10 donation, “we don’t turn anyone down.”
After all, Han realizes, “Most of us struggle. We are all quite similar. That is why I created the Fabulous Broke Life (FBL),” in which DLB compares weekly prices at different grocery stores and reports his findings on social media.
“All of us are in the same boat,” he says.
The 13th annual Carl Han’s Love Party will be from 6:45 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at Neon Boots.
The Love Party will include performances by Marsha Mellow, Tribal Lilies, Evita Longoria, Jade Mykels, Misty Valdez, Tiffany McKnight Capri, Marilyn Summers, Chloe T Crawford, Ivana Cupcak, Bubbles Dumaine, Luna Mystique Devereaux, and Alexye’us Paris.
The Hatch Prom on June 1 is free for LGBTQIA youth up to age 20. Those 21 and over are invited to purchase tickets for $25 at the door. Admission to an adult VIP reception is $50, and sponsorship opportunities are available.