November 4. 2023
ORLANDO | Martin Fugate, known as drag entertainer Leigh Shannon and owner of Ritzy Rags Wigs & More in College Park, is continuing his tradition this year of giving away wigs to cancer patients in need to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month, recognized every October.
Fugate partners with Adreans Hair Goods, who donates 12 to 15 wigs and about 20 turbans to be given away each year.
“We do this every year,” Fugate says. “I partner with them, they are my main wig company, and they’re so gracious. We have a close relationship and I’ve written somethings for them and I’m kind of like their critique person. I have been with them for about 25 years.”
Fugate knows all to well the impact that cancer treatments can have on a person’s self-esteem and mental health. At the age of 24, he lost his mother to breast cancer when she was only 43 years old.
“She was a beautiful Barbara Eden woman, had beautiful blonde hair and when we went to get her a wig, all I could get her was a wig that looked like Vicki Lawerence from “Mama’s Family.” So my mother never got a good wig and she was a beautiful woman. So now I feel like every time I make a woman happy getting her a good wig I’ve done it for my mom.”
Fugate says that anyone looking to get a wig of their own should make sure they are “medical grade synthetics.” “Don’t ever get human hair,” he adds.
Ritzy Rags moved to Orlando’s College Park area more than two years ago after being in the Mill50 District for over 30 years. Fugate says in his time of running the shop, he has seen so many cancer patients come in angry and frustrated with their situation, but that moment they find the right wig, it brings them to tears.
“Going through cancer is traumatic and anything you can do to hold onto something from before, and a lot of times it comes back to hair. Your hair becomes like your security,” he says.
Fugate says he has already given away seven wigs and has several more to go before the end of the month. In order to apply for a free wig, applicants can email Fugate at RitzyRagsEmail@aol.com to share their story and be considered.
Fugate has been focused on running his business recently after parting ways with Hamburger Mary’s Orlando. Fugate hosted his cabaret dinner show and Illusions revue as drag icon Leigh Shannon.
“While I’m kind of enjoying having time off, it’s rough getting out of that routine,” Fugate says. “Plus my love for Hamburger Mary’s is still so strong. Even with the departure, I really still love Hamburger Mary’s.”
Fugate recently announced that he would be returning with his cabaret and illusions shows in November, bringing both to Theatre Winter Haven’s new Ghostlight Lounge. The Cabaret Dinner Show starts Nov. 10 and Illusions in Revue is back Nov. 17.