Poison Waters, Portland’s extremely fabulous, wildly hilarious drag queen event hostess puts the “fun” in “fundraiser.” Her larger-than-life, feathered and sequined, demographic-bridging presence can loosen up the mood (and wallets) of the staidest of crowds, with clients ranging from the Portland Art Museum to Habitat for Humanity to Nordstrom. Kevin Cook, the man behind the woman, is a self-described multiethnic, multitalented, multitasker from Santa Monica who brought Ms. Waters to life nearly 30 years ago and has since amassed an unparalleled record of service and community leadership, particularly in the HIV and AIDS community.
If you’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you, what happened?
I’ll be celebrating another year chock-full of events for awesome organizations that benefit the arts and groups who work for social change. I’ll raise a glass to the folks who took a chance bringing my type of art into their circles, exposing guests to the world of drag!
When have you been most satisfied in your life? Why?
I’m constantly in a state of satisfaction, [especially so at] the end of every show or event when the client is happy, when the guests are congratulating and complimenting me. A job well done is the greatest feeling!
Who were your role models growing up?
I was always drawn to the glitz and glamour of Diana Ross and Dolly Parton. I loved the idea of celebrity in all forms.
What accomplishment or project has been the most significant in your career?
Becoming the Volunteer Camp Director for Cascade AIDS Project’s HIV-affected children’s camp, Camp KC (Kids Connection). While I don’t do it in drag, I wouldn’t have been introduced to it if it weren’t for a fundraiser show I was invited to participate in. Also, getting to play Mother Ginger in Oregon Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker these past seven years (2017 is my eighth season!) is amazing fun and definitely a highlight! I’m very fortunate and have worked with fabulous folks in Portland and throughout the Pacific Northwest. I mean, Kristin Chenoweth at Portland Opera’s Baroque Ball last month? Wow!
What have you done that has scared you?
This summer I rappelled down the 1000 SW Broadway building in drag as a fundraiser for Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest… 24 stories! Yikes!
What makes you happiest?
Knowing I’ve helped raise a lot of money for worthy organizations and that their programs and services will be accessible to the communities that need them. And glitter. Glitter makes me happy.
What did you do on your most recent arts adventure in Portland?
The last nonworking event I experienced was the fantastic Idina Menzel concert at the ‘Schnitz. She was awesome!
For more info and a calendar of Poison Waters events, check out poisonwaters.com