''Fifteen years ago when I came out, my parents had a really hard time with it, particularly my mother,'' Jack Jacobson says. But now? Things have come full circle – or at least full wig. ''Last year my mom came, and she and I had matching beehives,'' Jacobson continues. He's referring to Wig Night Out, an event that he started with a handful of friends a few years ago. ''Some of us were sitting around at Dito's Bar on 17th Street, having a couple glasses of wine,'' he explains. ''We thought, 'What if we came down here and put on wigs, threw in tip money and donated it to charity?'''
At that first wig party at Dito Sevilla's bar in the basement of Floriana, Jacobson and company raised $300 for the charity Locks of Love. Last year, Wig Night Out attracted about 180 people to Cobalt's Level One and raised over $5,000 for the Point Foundation, a nonprofit that grants scholarships to LGBTQ students.
But the ceilings weren't high enough at Cobalt for some of the wigs and headdresses, so this Saturday, Feb. 23, the party moves to JR.'s. Jacobson hopes to raise $7,500 for the Point Foundation – a total that includes some corporate donations, and a suggested donation of $10, which includes a free drink courtesy of JR.'s. The bar's VJ Bernie Schwartz will select retro and high-energy tunes and some wig-centric videos, including a wig video montage put together by organizers. There will also be a photo booth.
In addition to a bigger – and higher – D.C. event this year, organizers have also been working with the Point Foundation to expand the concept in other cities. They threw the first Wig Night Out in Chicago last November, and will next pull wigs from a box in New York in June.
A lobbyist by day as well as an elected representative on the D.C. State Board of Education, Jacobson plans to wear a Marie Antoinette-style headdress. Unfortunately, his mother can't make it down to repeat. Jacobson expects a few drag queens, but suggests patrons leave that to the professionals. ''It's fun philanthropy,'' he says. ''Just a wig. Drag is too much.''
''Everyone's got a wig at home,'' he continues, laughing, ''Well, most everyone.'' But if you don't, or you just don't like putting anything on your head, they won't turn you away. ''We'd love you to come with a wig, but if you're there and you want to donate anyway, that's okay."
Wig Night Out is Saturday, Feb. 23, from 9 to 11 p.m., at JR.'s, 1519 17th St. NW. Suggested donation is $10, which includes one free drink. Call 202-328-0090 or visit jrswdc.com and pointfoundation.org/wnodc.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: As originally posted, the evening's bar proceeds were reported to be benefiting the Point Foundation. The story has been corrected to reflect that while that is not the case, JR.'s is donating the compilmentary beverages to donors.]