Kelly West and Michelle Daly co-star as Lesbutante and The Bo$$ in what quickly has become a main feature for Austin’s lesbian community. Eager to fill the void of women-focused venues or events, Lesbutante and The Bo$$ generated as much in less than a year. They now host three monthly events at Chicago House, Upstairs on Trinity, and Castro’s, with a fourth popping up from time to time. Their blockbuster in September was a float in Austin’s PRIDE parade and an all-ladies after-party.
Not bad for something that started as an accident.
“We have gorgeous friends who met at a speed date a couple of years ago,” West said. “As a pay it forward, they wanted to do another lesbian speed date. They got the date and the place together and then really didn’t know what to do from there.
“Meanwhile, Michelle and I had talked about wanting to do something—something real, something big, something meaningful. She’s a decorated war vet with a wicked mind for business. I’m a newly relocated event designer, thrilled to be back in my hometown, with a desire to plan events for our community. So when we heard about our friends’ idea, we could NOT stay out of it!”
Michelle naturally gravitated toward the whos and wheres, capitalizing on her ability to make connections and talk to people. Kelly’s wedding and event designer instincts kicked in, wanting to know the hows and why.
“I’ve always called myself The Lesbutante just because I didn’t really feel like I had a classification within the lesbian spectrum—not that you have to fit in the spectrum,” West explained. “I made it up years ago, because I really am a lesbian and I really am a sorority girl. Michelle walks around saying, ‘I did this like a boss,’ because she’s from the East Coast, and it just became, ‘Oh, the Lesbutante and the Boss.’
“So this odd ‘couple’—a bossy Yankee and an even bossier sorority girl—pulled it together, and the rest is what we hope becomes her-story,” Kelly said.
Their efforts resulted in a modest premiere but the premise of gatherings that now attract up to 300 women a night. Coupled, but not to each other, West and Daly deliberately foster an atmosphere at their events that creates community.
“It’s kind of daunting to walk into a large group where you don’t know anybody,” West acknowledged. “Michelle greets everyone at the door: ‘Hi, I’m so glad you’re here.’ I walk around and talk to everybody and make sure everybody’s having fun.
“It’s so anti-clicky, which is what I love about it. Everybody mingles and everybody talks. We have dancing, but we also have places to sit and talk. It’s not all about drinking. It’s not all about picking somebody up. It’s just about lesbian and community. As much as I love a good gay—and I love a good gay—it’s nice to just be us.”
The several hundred lesbian extras who show up apparently agree.