Rudy Tomazic. Photography by Darren Hull

Diva Magic at Friends of Dorothy and beyond

Rudy Tomazic keeps the good times and the giving rolling

  • Jan. 25, 2021 7:30 a.m.

– Words by Toby Tannas Photography by Darren Hull

Bringing people together is Rudy Tomazic’s speciality. The Kelowna-based realtor and business owner does big, impactful things for his community but he does them in what’s become his signature way: quietly, behind the scenes.

“The thing I enjoy most is making people happy,” Rudy says with a smile. “I get a real charge out of that. I don’t need accolades; I just want to do it.”

As the owner of Friends of Dorothy, the Okanagan’s first LGBT2Q+ cocktail lounge (now with a second location in Victoria), Rudy has created a fun and inclusive environment that embraces the very best of queer culture.

“We live in a world with too much judgment,” Rudy says. “We are judged on our clothing, our face, our hair and body size. Everything is judged. But when you walk into a queer-focused place, everyone is welcome and we’re not judging at all. We want you to come in and just have fun.”

Friends of Dorothy or simply Dorothy’s, as Rudy affectionately refers to it, is a place to grab a snack and a drink and take in a drag show. At least it was until COVID-19 restrictions put the kibosh on performances. But in true star fashion, Kelowna’s resident queens continue to show up for Rudy.

“The queens in Kelowna aren’t being paid to come in right now, but they do! They’re dressed in drag, they’ll just sit on stage with the microphone and talk and heckle people,” he chuckles. “They’re doing it not only to keep what we’ve created alive but to make people laugh and feel good through these challenging times.”

They’re also doing it as a show of respect and gratitude for the man who gave them a permanent stage.


x;”>

The appreciation for Rudy extends far beyond the LGBT2Q+ community. Together with business partner Nate Flavel, Rudy has turned an annual pop-up drag queen party into a significant fundraiser for the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation. Noir has sold out in each of its three years, allowing Rudy and Nate to donate upwards of $40,000 to the KGH Foundation.

“Everyone needs a hospital, not just the LGBT2Q+ community. Everybody. There’s not a single person on the planet who isn’t going to need medical attention at some point in their lives,” Rudy notes.

The proceeds from Noir have gone to support some of the region’s greatest needs for advancing health care. This includes JoeAnna’s House, as well as a campaign to offer complete cardiac services at KGH by bringing in electrophysiology. Proceeds from Noir also supported the We See You campaign, a fundraising effort in support of KGH staff and the areas of greatest need during the pandemic response.

“Rudy is very humble about his contributions to our community, but he is so generous,” says Allison Ramchuk, Chief Development Officer for the KGH Foundation. “We are so grateful for his gifts to support local health care, and his endless energy and creativity when it comes to fundraising. He’s a very special partner.”

A second event called Diva will also be a fundraiser for the KGH Foundation once COVID-19 regulations are relaxed. Rudy is eying 2022 for the return of both drag shows.

“I’m just so humbled by the support. I’m the type of person who charges full steam ahead into a project or a business. I don’t really stop to think about a Plan B if it should fail. I only ever have a Plan A,” he says, laughing.

Rudy’s drive and penchant for taking risks (he went ahead with plans to open a second restaurant in the midst of the pandemic) were instilled in childhood. It’s a self-taught survival mechanism that came from growing up in a family that he says never really supported his dreams.

“Someone was always telling me that I would never be able to do what I wanted. I was told this is the way it’s going to be and this is the way you’re going to do it. He wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but all I ever really wanted to do was make a difference.”

Rudy can check the box on that dream. His philanthropy has helped and will continue to benefit an entire region. Through his real estate/development company and his two restaurants, Rudy is keeping dozens of people in Kelowna and Victoria employed, all while celebrating the LGBT2Q+ community and putting drag queens in the spotlight.

“I really couldn’t do any of this without the support of my three sons, close friends and, of course, the Friends of Dorothy teams in both Kelowna and Victoria. They’ve all been right there with me on this journey. When you look at queer culture, we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go.”

Rudy is determined to keep pushing forward on that. His next dream is to take Dorothy’s nationwide.

“I want to build a staple for the LGBT2Q+ community. If you’re in Calgary, or Vancouver or Toronto and you’re looking for an LGBT2Q+ establishment, you’ll see Dorothy’s, and you’ll know what you’re going to get! A place that welcomes everybody.”


x;”>

Rudy admits he has struggled through this pandemic because it’s kept him from the thing he loves most in life—being shoulder to shoulder with people.

“As humans, our nature is to be together. When I’m in the restaurant, I’m not just managing. I’m bussing tables, I’m doing dishes, helping prep, doing whatever is needed. I like to mingle, and I can’t do that right now, which is difficult for me because I just love to hear people’s stories.”

Rudy is now focused on the future and the day he can invite the queens and all the entertainers back on stage to let the good times and the giving roll. Until then, he says, it’s on all of us to keep that diva magic alive.

“More than ever we need to be kind and aligned. Together we will get through this.”

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

BusinessEntertainmentHealthcare

Just Posted

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
Vancouver Island woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Views of Nanaimo, Newcastle Channel and the Strait of Georgia from the Nanaimo Parkway. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Editorial: Each resident has a say in how this city of 100,000 grows

City of Nanaimo wants to hear from residents as transition from small town to big city continues

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from the beach in rescue attempt in Nanaimo

Animal dies in spite of efforts of marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires Vancouver Island wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

RCMP say a woman turned herself in to police after hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene of the accident in downtown Nanaimo on Friday morning. (File photo)
Driver flees, then turns herself in after hitting pedestrian in downtown Nanaimo

Nanaimo RCMP say woman was struck in marked crosswalk after driver ran red light

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

The Township of Esquimalt will finalize its plastic bag ban in March, after receiving approval from the province for its proposed bylaw. (THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo/Paul Chiasson)
Plastic bag ban coming soon to Esquimalt

Municipality set to enact bylaw outlawing single-use bags in March

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

The Campbell River Rotary Community Fieldhouse solar installation is designed to offset the energy use of the fieldhouse and the turf lights surrounding the field. Photo contributed
Solar power charges up Campbell River fieldhouse

Robron turf field building eneergized thanks to community partnership

West Coast-themed metal art by Nanaimo artists Hayley Willoughby (pictured), her father Jack and partner Blair LeFebvre is on display in the window of Lululemon at Woodgrove Centre from now until March 13 as part of the store’s monthly local artist program. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Metal artists present cross-generational show at Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Centre

Work by Hayley Willoughby, her partner and father on display in Lululemon window

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Amy Morrison was surprised to find a note on her windshield for parking on a public street with no restrictions in south Oak Bay where she works. (Amy Morrison Photo)
Note left for Oak Bay resident ignites debate about on-street parking

‘You must have noticed, we park in front of OUR HOUSE,’ note writer says

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Cowichan Tribes open up vaccinations for members who are 40 and older. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes opens up vaccinations for members 18 and older

Vaccination sessions to be held over weekend

Most Read