Denver Pridefest is quickly approaching and will take place downtown at Civic Center Park on June 18th and 19th. The two day event draws out the most colorful of crowds with hundreds of vendors, stage performs, and events to catch. DeMarcio Slaughter has been the beloved entertainment coordinator and emcee of Denver Pridefest for years now, known for his outrageous jokes and showstopping costumes.

For years, Slaughter has had mixed experiences with Denver designers creating custom costumes for the event. A quick search on Google usually prompted who would construct these garments. It wasn’t until his partnership with RMCAD and their students, that Slaughter found harmony. Under the direction of Dr. Darlene Ritz, students are given the opportunity to work on fun, crazy, custom outfits. So we took a studio visit to RMCAD to get a first hand look at the student designs and chatted a bit with DeMarcios Slaughter on his involvement with Denver Pridefest and experience with RMCAD.

Behind The Scenes of Denver Pride Costume Design with RMCAD

Darlene C. Ritz with DeMarcio Slaughter in a final fitting.

Darlene C. Ritz with DeMarcio Slaughter in a fitting – All photos by Meg O’Neill


One of Slaughter's pieces in progress.

One of Slaughter’s pieces in progress.

303: Tell us a bit about this year’s Pridefest and your involvement in it. 

Slaughter: 2016 marks the 40th Anniversary of the LGBT Community Center of Colorado (The Center). As a member of the Board of Directors for the LGBT Community Center of Colorado, I will be fashionably all over town, doing my part to raise awareness (and dollars) for The Center and our incredible programs like ‘Sage of the Rockies’ [Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders], the ‘Transgender Program’ and, ‘Rainbow Alley’ [serving LGBTQ youth and their allies] just to name a few.

303: What should we really look forward to this year in particular? 

Slaughter: Since it’s the 40th Anniversary of The Center, and an election year – there will be a lot of celebration, as well as education. Pridefest allows room for to come together, have a great time and be brought up to speed on issues facing our community. Naturally there will be delicious fun and fantastic entertainment. I encourage all 303 readers to come down to Civic Center Park, and immerse themselves in the over-the-top-sexy-crazy- fun entertainment!

This year, we have (from Ru Pauls Drag Race) Latrice Royale, and Nina Flowers set to perform; super sexy NYC rap star CAZWELL will take to the stage; local Denver talents, like comedienne Debbie Scheer, and female illusionist Jessica L’Whor, have their own shows on the  Center Stage. Lance Bass of N’sync will be our VIP guest, and Center Stage headliner R&B singer CeCe Peniston will shut. it. down.

Slaughter in a Mardi Gras inspired jumpsuit.

Slaughter in a Mardi Gras inspired jumpsuit.

303:Can you tell us a bit more about your history with Pride, and how Denver Pride compares around America? 

Slaughter: I started 13 years ago in this volunteer role, as an emcee. My job was to stall for drag queens, tell a few jokes, and keep the audiences’ attention in-between performers. A few years in, I was given the opportunity to book all the entertainment for the Center Stage. I hit the ground running and take great pride in working with The Center in selecting diverse entertainment. People don’t realize that other PRIDE festivals (in big cities around America) are often put on by big concert promoters or event planning business, who charge a fee per person for entry. Here in Denver, The Center produces the entire festival, and there is no entry fee.

The Center works very hard for our own city and community, with no outside planners or promoters telling us what to do, or who to book. We know that one size does not fit all when it comes to entertainment, and It’s very important to have a bit of something for everyone. Our goal is create a safe environment of love through music!

303: What is your sense of the Denver fashion scene at Pride? What do you see a lot of? 

Slaughter: As the host and emcee of Denver Pridefest, I see a lot of everything from where I stand – and that’s great, because there is room for everyone! I see individuals of all ages expressing who they are, wearing what makes them sexy, wearing what makes them free, wearing what makes them unique. Sometimes it’s very little fabric, and at other times I see outfits that have been put together with the greatest of care, finite precision.

I too have a fashion responsibility. My idol, Miss Diana Ross, always takes to the stage looking refined, glamorous and dazzling, and I own my stage in the same manner. In costumes that are sexy, spectacular, and one-of-a-kind, I try to represent the diverse feel of the audience, and spirit of the festival when creating my costumes.

303:Tell us more about this partnership you have with RMCAD. What has been your experience thus far in working with them? 

Slaughter: I met Dr. Darlene Ritz, Chair of the Fashion Design program at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design(RMCAD), at a fashion event earlier this year. We briefly discussed PRIDEFest and she offered me a tour of the RMCAD campus. She brought me and my husband Shane into the RMCAD sewing lab, and delivered professionalism like I have never experienced before. The students’ considerate attention to detail, consistent scheduling and dedicated passion are something I can’t brag enough about!

I am thrilled and appreciative with how I have been treated and respected by Dr. Ritz, Alexander Abola, Ben Rosenthal, and Nicole Bartet. They are the definition of wonderful, and such kind group to work with. I really feel this is a partnership of creativity in fashion.

“We were thrilled to offer this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to our students. Not only does this give students the hands-on experience of designing for an actual client, it allows RMCAD to support one of the most important community events, Denver PRIDEFest! It has been such a pleasure working with DeMarcio and we know he will be looking (and feeling) so fabulous on the main stage this year!” – Darlene C. Ritz

303: Can you tell us a bit about what you’ll be wearing this pride?

Slaughter: The RMCAD team has really pushed me out of my usual looks and educated me on various trends and fashion terms like ‘inspiration boards’, and ‘crotch depth’. My Miss Diana Ross inspirations and their creative skills will have me dressed to the nines on stage! We’ve got various looks with sequins, leather, beaded fringe, and feathers. There’s an outfit that gives off a bit of Game of Thrones vibe, as another piece is very 1970s/Studio 54. Some costumes show a lot of skin, while another has me looking like I’m on a runway in Milan.

Ablola and Slaughter discussing design.

Alex Ablola and Slaughter discussing design.


Darlene C. Ritz, DeMarcio Slaughter, and Alex Ablola

Darlene C. Ritz, DeMarcio Slaughter, and Alex Ablola

Design sketches for Slaughter's Pridefest costumes.

Design sketches for Slaughter’s Pridefest costumes.