Sex Sells

The Madams of Central Colorado arrived in Buena Vista last night for the opening sold-out show of the 2017 summer season.  This show, in its 11th year, was written by cast member Kathi Perry as an educational and historical theatrical production.  Each character is based upon a true life painted lady who lived and worked in the Upper Arkansas Valley at a time when there was a shortage of women.

Belle Brown, portrayed by Carrie Carey, had one of the most popular parlour houses in Buena Vista early in its history.  She bottled her own beer and sold it to her patrons at 500% her cost.  She would dress up her girls in their finery and take a buggy ride down the middle of street, as a form of advertisement, of course.  Belle’s business declined and she left town soon after she staged the brawl that damaged Cockeyed Liz’s eye.

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Lizzie Spurgeon, also known as Cockeyed Liz and portrayed by Kathi Perry, arrived in town in her silk & satin and everyone knew who she was when she stepped off of the train.  She opened her house, The Palace of Joy, and enjoyed a successful career in the profession until she married one of her customers.  She was married for over 30 years and when she passed away, no church in town would hold her service so her beloved Alphonse held her service under the tree in the front yard of the Palace.

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Laura Evens, as portrayed by Renee Graner, arrived in Denver with her one year old daughter Lucille after fleeing an unhappy marriage.  She soon realized that she didn’t know the first thing about taking care of a baby and with no money, job or skills, she chose to “turn out” to pay for her daughter’s care & upbringing.  Laura moved on to Leadville before settling in Salida where she opened her own parlour house.  Ms. Laura had the longest running house in Colorado and finally shut her doors in 1950.

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Lillian Powers, as portrayed by Bonnie Schwam, was a good friend of Ms. Laura.  Ms. Laura had asked Lillian to work in her parlour house, however, Lillian was a crib girl and wished to remain in Ms. Laura’s cribs.    Lillian eventually moved to Florence and opened her own house where she was soon Florence’s most famous madam.  Lillian chose the life of a fallen angel rather than remain in her first profession as a school teacher.

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Silverheels Jessie, as portrayed by Morgan Mahala, worked in Ms. Laura’s parlour house in Salida.  Jessie had the highest regard for Ms. Laura and the way she ran her house.  At one point, during the influenza epidemic, Ms. Laura closed her house down and sent her girls out into the community to act as nurses.  Silverheels Jessie ended up at the home of a local baptist minister who had tried for years to close Ms. Laura down.  After she nursed his wife back to health he offered her a job as his wife’s companion.  Silverheels Jessie turned him down and returned back to the parlour house to continue her life as a bride of the multitude.

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Laverne, as portrayed by Whitney Tidwell, was also a parlour house girl in Ms. Laura’s house.   Not a lot is known about Laverne before or after her life as a soiled dove, but she too enjoyed and loved working for Ms. Laura.  She and Silverheels Jessie enjoyed a competitive rivalry for both Ms. Laura’s attention as well as those of their “friends”.  She likes to tell the audience what it was really like living and working in a parlour house, without offending those with tender sensibilities.

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The Professor, as portrayed by Teresa Roorda, pleases and entertains the crowd with her musical skills.  Cockeyed Liz was progressive for her time and employed The Professor, a woman, as musical entertainment for her gentlemen callers.  It was well known to the madams that music could hasten the turnover of clients.

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If you missed last night’s show, (July 8, 2017) the ladies will be back in Buena Vista on August 12th, as well as September 9th.  They will then be off to Pueblo to perform for the Medal of Honor Recipients before taking the “cat wagon” to Lamar to set up their tent at the historical encampment.

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2017 Spring/Summer Schedule of Events – Buena Vista, Colorado, USA

If you are planning a trip to Buena Vista, Colorado any time in the near future, you’ll appreciate a Spring/Summer Schedule of Events.  Naturally, there will be more to add, so please check the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center website for additions or updates:  BV Chamber Website

They can also give you location, directions and even contact info.  If they don’t have, they’ll find it for you!  Call them at 719-395-6612.

WordPress Buena Vista Schedule of Events – Spring 2017

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Gunfight & Near Hanging at the Lariat

The weekend started like any other beautiful, sunny day in August, and ended with a gunfight at the local saloon, a near hanging, and the Triple Crown Burro Race finale.    I could only be referring to Gold Rush Days in Buena Vista, Colorado, generally held the 2nd week of August each year, or occasionally held the first weekend.

The weekend is a mix of returning vendors and events along with new introductions.   The Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center is the organizer for the weekend which brings guests young and old alike to enjoy the events, historic reenactments, vendors and live music.

The feud between Joe Bush and Johnny started at the Lariat and ended at the local jail.

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The Cast of Characters 

The Burro race is approximately 12 miles traversing Main Street, crossing RR tracks, across a bridge, along a single track jeep road, over the Arkansas River and the “Gentleman’s Loop” of the Barbara Whipple Trail.

Gold Rush Days Burro Race, 3rd Leg of the Triple Crown

 

Live Music at McPhelemy Park:  Ryan Chrys and the Roughcuts

Water Fun at Town Lake, McPhelemy Park

Fun for Kids, Puppies and Butterflies

Toilet Seat Races on Main Street

Civil War Reenactors/Madams of Central Colorado

Wild West Parlour Games

An entourage from Canada met with Kathi Perry, Executive Director of the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, a couple of weeks ago along with other members of the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau.  Upon their return to Canada, they wrote about their experience in Colorado, specifically about Buena Vista, and were fascinated with the Madams of Central Colorado.  Enough so, that they included the show in their article, even though they have never seen the show.

Here is the link to their feature article:

Melfort Journal: Madams of Central Colorado

Last Friday was the opening show of the summer season and it was a very fun show as the portrayers and audience interacted and played off of each other.  Here are just a few images from the show:

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The Cast of “Madams of Central Colorado”:  Bonnie Schwam as Lillian Powers, Kathi Perry as Cockeyed Liz, Renee Graner as Laura Evens Carrie Carey as Belle Brown, Morgan Mahala as Silverheels Jesse, Whitney Tidwell as Laverne.

Images from Friday, July 1, 2016 show:

The next show is August 13, 2016, at 7 p.m. at the Buena Vista Heritage Museum.