The Imperial Star Empire of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties had their Coronation Ball on Saturday, at the Crowne Plaza South Oakland in Union City.
Yeah, Union City.
It's possible to get farther south in Alameda County (and farther away from Oakland) than Union City, but Freemont is the only thing between it and Milpitas. Granted, the coronation is there because Hayward (which is much more the center of Alameda Co gay activity) doesn't have any hotels with conference facilities, and Oakland is, well, Oakland.
We really like Empress Niyah and Emperor Ellis, and were really looking forward to seeing how their coronation played out. Their theme was "Beauty and the Freak." Niyah never fails to live up to "Beauty" and, well, Ellis is a skinny black dude who does Marilyn Manson numbers. They had some difficulties together, but they did a great job together.
Once Saturday morning's chaos was over, we headed up to check in and spend some time in hospitality. They were having a busy day, and nearly ran out of alcohol by 2:30. The only irritation was that while hospitality was scheduled to run until 4:00pm, but it closed at 3:00. Well, there wasn't any booze, so it didn't really matter.
We spent a bit of time chatting with Madame Steele in the room before showering and dressing for the show. Coronation included a buffet dinner, so we made sure we got down to the ballroom on time for the doors to open.
Oh, kproche was scheduled to sing "O Canada" in the flag ceremony, so that was the other reason we had to be there on-time.
...but we were in Alameda...
At least the bar was open when we got there. 10 minutes after the door was supposed to open.
We ran into Jazmine James and Kiki Monroe, both Empresses of Denver, who were the show MCs. Kiki swore they were going to start at 6:00, even if the doors weren't open and nobody was there. The doors finally did open, but the show didn't start at 6:00 like it was supposed to. One of the ball coordinators (who swore she was going to show up at 5:00) didn't walk in until 6:00, so we didn't get dinner until then.
The show finally did start a bit before 7:00. The sets were great. Coffins, twisted trees, iron candelabras and cobwebs set a nicely gothic scene, and the traditional Crowne Plaza dark red worked in beautifully. Frank Salerno did the Mexican National Anthem as a reading rather than singing it (it's barely singable, perhaps worse than SSB), and Tank sang the US National Anthem. Amazingly, he didn't blow any words (I can count the number of times a singer hasn't blown the words on one hand).
Ellis and Niyah only had 12 seats for guests on the dais (an improvement from last year when entering and exiting 16 guests each act took longer than it did for most courts to walk), and they had quite a few command performers, but not a crazy number. The really cool thing is nearly all of the command performers went with the theme. No "WTF?" performances. OK, that's not true, quite a few were "WTF!!!???" numbers, but in a way that made sense.
First act (in-town stuff) took forever. Not sure why, since there weren't really any in-town organizations walking. Way too long. Second act (when visiting courts were presented) actually went pretty smoothly and pretty quickly. Third act was mostly performances (which would have been better if things were running on schedule), but was marred by aforementioned late ball coordinator shuffling folks back into the ballroom saying the doors were going to lock for crowning before the intermission that preceded act 4... and then repeating that routine for another 15 minutes before the doors locked.
So after all the BS and the doors finally being locked, Joe-Wanna Piece (the former Emperor Alex P) and Christian Dior were crowned Empress (Joe-Wanna) and Emperor (Christian) with apparently a handy number of votes. Then we headed up to the hospitality suite for the victory party, and off to bed.
Brunch the next morning was pretty decent. The Crowne Plaza's banquet room is nice, and their kitchen is pretty good. Ellis and Niyah gave out plaques. Actually, Ellis gave out plaques and candles, Niyah gave out bottles of Cuervo 1800 with engraved panels attached to the back. Christian and Joe-Wanna announced their new titles (I forget) and their new court name (I forget). We finished up and headed home.