Community Gem: Rubi Girls raise millions for HIV causes and charities

DAYTON —What started as a group of college friends putting on shows in an attic more than three decades ago has grown into a nonprofit organization that has used drag shows to raise nearly $3 million for HIV- and AIDS-related causes and other charities.

The Rubi Girls started on Rubicon Street in the 1980s, around the same time that HIV was affecting more and more lives. The group was happy to put on shows but didn’t want to accept money for themselves, said Joshua Stucky, one of two original Rubi Girls who still performs with the group. Then they realized the show could raise funds and awareness for HIV causes, offering laughs even amid such a serious issue.

“We’ve always kept an edge of irreverence and silliness and craziness,” said Stucky, 58, who also owns Square One Salon and Spa and is a professor of elementary education at Wright State University.

Now the drag troupe performs across the country and was even the focus of a documentary. More recently, the Rubi Girls performed at a fall meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, held in Dayton.

Although drag has come into the spotlight, Stucky said that the Rubi Girls have something that many others do not: a sisterhood. The performances are something to share with friends and family.

“There’s going to be a drag queen they relate to,” said Stucky, of Dayton.

Stucky and the Rubi Girls were nominated as Dayton Daily News Community Gems by Leslie Loper, of Kettering. As a longtime advocate and ally who has worked in the AIDS field and has watched the Rubi Girls grow over the years, Loper said that no one does more for the area than Stucky.

“While they’re doing their comic drag, they’re doing so much for this community,” Loper said.

About the Author