Calgary LGBT group crowns royalty at glitzy gala for charity

The fun-loving, 43-year-old non-profit is the oldest, still-running gay organization in the city.

Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch raises funds for kids, HIV patients

Devious Harte Tron and her colleague, Sluggo Sensation Boink, lead the organization in charitable efforts. (Rachel Ward/CBC)

After revelling in a weekend of glitz and glam, Calgary's newly crowned royalty are happily settling into a day off.

Diane Kirkhope-Fjaagesund and Denise Sluggett have been elected emperor and empress of the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch, a Calgary group that combines drag shows and charitable works.

Their installation to the fun-loving organization came with a weekend of celebrations, including a sold-out 43rd anniversary coronation ball at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel.

So much sparkle

The two royals came into the CBC Radio studios on Monday morning to discuss their win — and show off their outfits.

Kirkhope-Fjaagesund, who goes by the name Devious Harte Tron, wore a 23-centimetre crown of crystal and black stones, "big blingy" costume jewellery and a blue velvet, full-length gown. 

Sluggett, whose stage name is Sluggo Sensation Boink, wore a "blinged out" blue and black suit, and "obviously, our crowns to match."

Empress Devious Harte Tron and Emperor Sluggo Sensation Boink have been elected by the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Chinook Arch. (Meegan Read/CBC)

The longstanding LGBT organization has centred its community building around community service. Each elected leader commits to 10 volunteer hours, and leads the group in running fundraisers.

At the weekend event, the organization raised about $50,000, Sluggett told the Calgary Eyeopener. That amount will be split between the Sharp Foundation, which supports people with or at risk of HIV and AIDS, Children's Wish and HIV Community Link, as well as student bursaries.

Denise Sluggett's stage name is Sluggo Sensation Boink. (CBC)

"It's pretty big in the community," Kirkhope-Fjaagesund said. "The court circuit is in all of North America, so the U.S. and Mexico, so we have people travel from all over.

"They all meet up at each other's coronations and they kind of become like family. You get to know each other quite well."

Diane Kirkhope-Fjaagesund's stage name is Devious Harte Tron. (CBC)

That travel can get tricky when crossing the border holding huge crowns and extensive costume attire, she said. One friend coming from San Francisco got held by security for an hour and a half. 

"I think sometimes the security gets a little tight," she said with a laugh. "That was his first time here. I don't know if he's coming back."

Formed in 1976, Chinook Arch is the oldest gay organization still operating in Calgary. It also elects other members to the "upper house" as a prince, princess, duke or duchess.

With files from Donna McElligott and the Calgary Eyeopener.