A Georgia mayor is getting heat for donning drag and lip-syncing at a benefit last week.
Derek Easterling, mayor of Kennesaw, Georgia (population 29,783) gave the crowd his best Christina Aguilera as he performed “Lady Marmalade” at the Battle for the Brain, an Alzheimer’s event that raised nearly $250,000.
“I try to put the fun in fundraiser,” Easterling told WSBTV. “I have 250,000 reasons why I did it.”
Some residents took exception to the performance though, with some calling it “sick” and “gross” on Facebook. “As a mayor, I think there’s other things that he could do to get a message out there,” another said. Reporter Tom Jones told Easterling the public perception now was that he was a cross-dresser.
Others were more supportive: “I love it! What a great and caring Mayor! Kennesaw is lucky to have him!” tweeted Joyce Vorholt King.
I love it! What a great and caring Mayor! Kennesaw is lucky to have him! I'm on your side, Mayor Derek Easterling!!
— Joyce Vorholt King (@VorholtNuthouse) October 26, 2017
Mayor since January 2016, Easterling is known to dress up for a good cause—he attended another fundraiser as a ’50s greaser. At Awtrey Middle School, where he’s a social studies teacher, he came dressed as a viking on the first day of school.
“That was my performance: over the top,” he told 11 Alive. “[I wanted to] get people’s attention and say, ’Hey look, if I can do this, you can too.'” He said the crowd was into it: “They were so loud, they were louder than the music. I couldn’t hear the music.”
A Navy veteran and former deputy sheriff, Easterling is also active in the local Methodist church with his wife and step-children.
“Everything is already so tough—why make it even harder?” he said. “There’s already enough negativity in the world. Let’s move forward, let’s have a little bit of fun and let’s raise awareness.”