After a dozen years of hosting Windy City Gay Idol, Windy City Times newspaper and Nightspots magazine are announcing they will not be programming the annual event in 2015.
Started in 2003 as a takeoff on the popular American Idol TV show, the contests have been held throughout the city and suburbs, crowning winners based on the votes of a live audience.
In 2008, the soon-to-be-famous Lady Gaga performed as a special guest at the Gay Idol finals. She was among many guest performers over the years.
Windy City Times is marking its 30th anniversary in September 2015, and is making major changes in its business and editorial focus. There will be a special anniversary event this fall, an online 30th anniversary campaign, articles looking back at the 1980s Chicago LGBT movement, a re-design of the newspaper, the launch of a company mascot, and other changes in print and digital offerings.
Windy City Media Group Senior Account Executive Amy Matheny has spearheaded Gay Idol for the company, with various support from key staff and volunteers over the years. Promotions directors over time have included Scott Duff, Kathleen Ulm, Julie Mosier and Cynthia Holmes. Key staff and volunteers have included Kirk Williamson, Kat Fitzgerald, Hal Baim, David Strzepek and Sandra Klein. Matheny and Sofia Saffire were hosts of the shows. A special thank you to Brad Cawley for all of the creative and logo work for the 12 years of Gay Idol.
"We have so enjoyed running these events,"Windy City Times Publisher Tracy Baim said. "We could not have done them without the support of the sponsors, volunteers and amazing contestants over the yearssome who went on to audition of American Idol, and even finish in the Top 20."
Karoake programming for all 12 years was provided by Creagh's Creaoke. Other sponsors have included: Bud Light, MillerCoors, Bacardi, Skyy Vodka, Smirnoff, Tanqueray, Ketel One, Don Julio, Vox Vodka, American Airlines, Broadway in Chicago, Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Toronto, The Island of Curacao, Ravinia, Mini of Chicago, Thompson Hotel, SpeedPro Printing, Materville Studios and more.
Bar hosts have included: Sidetrack, Circuit, Spin, Roscoe's, Scarlet, Stargaze, Jackhammer, @mosphere, Club Krave, Temptations, Crew, The Closet, Jeffrey Pub, Glenwood, T's, Berlin, North End, Touche, Cellblock, Mary's Attic, Scot's, 3160, Gentry, Bobby Love's, Hydrate, Parlour, Joie De Vine, Wild Pug, The Sofo Tap, DS Tequila, The Call, Hunter's, Hideaway, the Patch, Mayne Stage and more.
Judges have included: Kirk Williamson, Mitchell Fain, Heather Schmucker, Meghan Murphy, Jerry Nunn, Stephen Rader, Angelique Munro, Kerri Grant, Marc Moder, David Cerda, Verdell, Jinx Titanic, Sofia Saffire, Honey West, Teriyaki, Ripley Caine, Dylan Rice, Richard Knight Jr., Gary Airedale, Mekole Wells, Jim Bennett, DJ Dragonfire, Lucy Smith, Emily White, Peter Mavrik, DJ Doug Brandt, Tamale Sepp, Michelle L'amour, Lili-Anne Brown, Rob Lindley, JDA, Erica Daniels, Claire Simon, Bob Schroeder, Ms Cleo, Jim Verraros, Levi Kreis, Jennifer Rudnicke, Mickie Paskal and more.
"Of course every year, a Windy City Gay Idol was crowned," Matheny said. "But the heart of the promotion and the momentum behind its success were the countless contestants who showed up to sing and their friends, families and the Chicago community that came to listen and vote."
Past Windy City Gay Idols were:
2003: Luis Vega
2004: Sue Heggeland
2005: Kerri Grant
2006: Christy Fairbairn
2007: Dan Kerry
2008: Cori Calderon
2009: Amy Kelly
2010: Matt Rivera
2011: TJ Chernik
2012: Robert Hughes
2013: Maria Pahl
2014: Trish Keporos