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A Houston Pride Parade fixture for 23 years
Rainbo de Klown will be
at Houston Pride in
spirit as he attends a
wedding in Illinois
By DAWN RORIE
Pride just won't be the same this year
without Rainbo de Klown.
Every year for the past 23 years, Ricky
Hurt, better known as Rainbo de Klown.
has been a parade fixture, sometimes
controversial, sometimes silly, always
original and imaginative,
Rainbo de Klown is often the talk of the
town long after the parade has passed by.
So, why will Rainbo de Klown be MIA
at Pride 2005?
"What is Rainbo going to do for Pride
this year?" Hurt repeats the question,
looking extremely disheartened.
"Rainbo's going to a wedding; you know-
one of those heterosexual weddings!"
Although Hurt is excited to be heading
back home to Illinois to participate in his
brother's wedding, his jaw dropped when
the wedding date was announced..
"I said, 'June 25th? That's Pride Day!
You can't get married on Pride Day!"
Pride celebrations in and around the
state of Illinois should take notice: If
Rainbo can't participate in his beloved
Houston Pride Parade, he plans to slip
away from the wedding festivities for
long enough to get his Pride fix somewhere. Chicago and St. Louis are possibilities, says Hurt. "I've got to check the
schedules and see if I can go."
In 1981, Hurt saw his first Pride Parade.
Having come from a small town in central
Illinois, he had never seen anything like it.
The following year. Hurt decided to participate. He had been working a side job as a
clown for the past few years, and after
receiving a rainbow-colored clown wig for
his birthday, he had even developed a
clown name: Rainbo de Klown.
Rainbo de Klown made his first
appearance at Houston Pride in 1982.
After that, Ricky Hurt was hooked. Every
year since, he has pushed the limits of
the imagination to come up with new and
One year. Hurt dressed in a clown tuxedo costume and tutu. As a finishing touch,
•f) MORE INFO
Houston Pride Parade
8:45 p.m. June 25
Westheimer between Woodhead and Whitney
In 2004, Ranibo de Klown celebrated Bette Midler
(Photo by Dalton DeHart)
he stuffed inflated balloons underneath
his shirt as breasts. Parade officials did
not find his balloon-breasts amusing. As
Hurt suddenly blossomied into womanhood, the head of the parade insisted that
Hurt pop the balloons because comic drag
was not considered polite parade fare at
the time. "I popped them, but I wasn't
happy about it," says Hurt.
Hoping to change Parade rules about
comedy drag, he began working on the
Pride Committee, eventually becoming
the Pride Parade Chair. In 1988, the
Garden Party, an anything-goes drag
ensemble ("Think guys in beards and
dresses," says Hurt), took part in the
parade. "Before then, you could only
march if you were a 'pretty' drag queen,"
Going as Bette
During his time on the Pride
Committee, Hurt continued to create his
infamous parade entries. His most famous
entry was a spoof of Bette Midler's
Delores Delago act. Hurt dressed in a mermaid costume and was pushed down
Westheimer in a shopping cart by a man in
a banana suit. The next day, his picture
was in the paper and on the local TV news.
Hurt recalls that his most controversial entry started out as a perfectly
innocuous idea: a clown lounging in a
"The clown's name was Mickey in de
Martini Glass," Hurt says. It was a trick
In 2003, Rainbo de Klown celebrated the U.S.
Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas.
(Photo by Dalton DeHart)
costume, with Hurt's feet coming out at the
bottom of the "martini glass" so that he
could walk down the parade route. The
entourage that would accompany the martini-clown consisted of a giant styrofoam
tequila bottle, a giant saltshaker, and
someone dressed as a giant cup of coffee
("The designated driver," explains Hurt.)
The only thing missing was the slice of
lime. The night before the parade. Hurt
found a shy, quiet guy at E.J.'s who said
he'd like to be in the parade. "I don't
know what happened the next day,"
remembers Hurt. "I put the costume on
him, and he came alive!"
Hurt demonstrates how a slice-of-lime
costume would fit on anyone silly enough
to agree to wear such a thing. He shows
O RICKY HURT
(Rainbo de Klown)
Hobbies: making costumes; and researching
Pets: no pets (but used to have a male dog
named "Miss Thang")
Partner Status: I've had many and am still
looking for one."
how the top of the lime slice would swoop
forward and down, over the wearer's
head, while the bottom of the lime slice
swoops up and forward, right at the wearer's, well, midsection. "You can just imagine," he laughs.
As Hurt walked along in his martini-
clown getup, completely unaware of
what was happening with the condiments in his entourage, the naughty
slice of lime leapt and frolicked, gyrating and thrusting his way up the entire
parade route. Over the next few days.
Hurt says he was flooded with calls and
letters of complaint.
When he is not designing costumes
and creating interesting characters, Hurt
is an activist for various causes. Over the
years, he has participated in protests of
all kinds. From AIDS awareness to general gay rights issues, "I've done sit-ins,
stand-ins, walks, marches, and rallies,"
One issue of particular interest to
Hurt is "bandit signs". Those are the illegally placed signs that find their way
onto utility poles, stop sign posts, and
pretty much anywhere else they can be
posted. Some scream "Lose weight now!"
while others offer jobs or advertise for
Hurt feels that beautifying Houston
and getting rid of bandit signs is a two-
part effort. He is working to push legislators to strengthen the penalties
against those who violate sign ordinances. Meanwhile, he feels that it is
up to all Houstonians to send the violators a message. It only takes a minute
to pull down a few signs and trash
them, he says.
"Why have all these beautiful trees
and plants and things that our state is
paying for, only to have it trashed up with
signs?" he asks.
From activism, to bungee jumping at
the Westheimer Street Festival while
dressed as Bette Midler and self-discovery through several days in the woods at
Fairy Camp, Ricky Hurt truly has some
amazing stories to tell. "Life is an adventure," he says. "Let your hair grow-
even if you don't have any—and just
enjoy what's out there!"