By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“We come here, and it feels like coming home,” said Suzanne Adams, president of the Esprit conference's organizing board and the Emerald City Social Club, a transgender organization in Seattle.
“We've been here so long, we've watched this hotel grow up with us. We picked Port Angeles because it was a beautiful city, but the people here are even more beautiful for welcoming us each year.”
All week long, an estimated 125 members of the transgender communities from Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, B.C., have gathered inside the Red Lion Hotel to swap clothes, makeup tips and support strategies, as they have every year since 1990.
Inside the hotel are vendor tables, rooms set up as collective closets and special salons where they relax in an open environment.
Pampering many of the Esprit members inside one of the salon rooms is Kylie Ellis, a cosmetologist from the Steppin' Out Salon in Port Angeles who has attended Esprit as a member since 1999.
“It's just a wonderful ball,” Ellis said. “It's a great feeling to have all these girls around.”
Ellis will be one of the featured performers vying for specially designed Oscars at tonight's talent show.
She would not, however, disclose what her act will be.
“It's a surprise. You'll just have to see,” Ellis said.
Every table will be decorated with a golden statuette that, unlike the Academy Awards' Oscar, has a pair of breasts and long hair.
“It's a girly conference; we needed a girly Oscar,” said Karen Williams, an Esprit long-timer.
The Esprit Talent Show will be at the Elks Naval Lodge, 131 E. First St., at 8 p.m.
Guests will get to walk down the red carpet to witness eight to 10 Oscar-themed acts.
A $5 cover charge will be donated to Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County.
The public is also invited to attend the Saturday Night Gala, which is themed “Everybody is a Star!”
The gala will be at 8 p.m. in the Red Lion's Juan de Fuca Ballroom. The gala also has a $5 cover, which will be donated to hospice.
Nasty Habits to perform
Seattle transgender rock band The Nasty Habits plays Bar N9ne, 229 W. First St., at 9 p.m. today and Saturday.
The performances, which are listed on the Esprit calendar as non-Esprit events, will go on until 1 a.m. and are open to the public. The cover will be $5.
For more information, visit www.espritconf.com.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.