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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A herd of turkeys caused a traffic jam in Armstrong March 3. (Video still)
Turkeys talk back at traffic in Spallumcheen

VIDEO: ‘Bossy little buggers refused to move’

(BCCDC)
42 cases of COVID-19 in the Central Okanagan last week

Interior Health is reporting 42 cases of COVID-19 between Feb. 21 and 27

(Courtesy of West Kelowna Fire Rescue)
UPDATE: West Kelowna structure fire deemed accidental

Firefighter injured in Ponderosa Rd. house fire is recovering at home from knee, back injury

The Vernon Vipers’ owners are not pressing any panic buttons despite the fact the team has had no gate revenue in more than a year. (Morning Star file photo)
The Vernon Vipers’ owners are not pressing any panic buttons despite the fact the team has had no gate revenue in more than a year. (Morning Star file photo)
Vernon Vipers’ ownership remains dedicated

John and Tom Glen aren’t pushing panic button after one league franchise owner put club up for sale

An air quality advisory continues in Vernon March 4 due to high levels of dust in the air from winter traction material. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
UPDATE: More road dust continues air quality advisory in Vernon

The advisory will last until the next rainfall or until enough street sweeping work is done

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Penticton RCMP will be attending Friday’s protest to enforce provincial health orders that restrict all gatherings. (File photo)
Penticton RCMP warn of potential fines for Friday’s protest in Gyro Park

Police will be there to enforce provincial health orders that restrict all organized gatherings

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Mountain caribou from an endangered herd have returned to an area adjacent to the area closed to snowmobiling on Queest Mountain. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)
Return of caribou herd prompts temporary snowmobiling closure near Sicamous

Lake Play area on Queest Mountain closed for the second time this year

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP stock. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press)
Teen grabbed while jogging in Kelowna

18-year-old woman pulled free, running home and reporting incident to police

Most Read