Home » Around the City » 37th Nicky Awards draws big crowd, delivers emotional appeal

37th Nicky Awards draws big crowd, delivers emotional appeal

Shane Bitney Crone

A standing-room-only crowd packed the Marriott Mission Valley Hotel last week for the 37th annual Nicky Awards, sometimes called the “gay Oscars of San Diego.” True to that billing, the Nickys included a live red carpet kick-off where interviews were conducted with local VIPs and personalities en route to the ballroom.

Allan Spyere, president of the Nicky Awards’ board of governors, welcomed attendees with video presentations that, as one award recipient said after the event, “showcased the Nickys’ heritage, purpose and continuing relevance – all that plus very respectable production values.”

Following the video presentation, Spyere introduced the Nicky Awards’ namesake and founder, Nicole Murray Ramirez, a longtime civil rights activist and city commissioner. By all accounts, Ramirez delivered a stirring speech about what it was like for LGBT people in San Diego in the early 1970s; and the progress the community has made during the past four decades. City Councilman Todd Gloria, who is openly gay, presented the Mayor George Moscone Award to KPBS-TV, for faithfully reflecting the diversity of the people of San Diego in the course of producing news, education and entertainment programming since the 1960s.

Shane Bitney Crone received a standing ovation when military veteran and gay activist Joseph Rocha and mayoral candidate Congressman Bob Filner presented him with the 2012 Harvey Milk Civil Rights Award. Crone moved the crowd with his speech about the death of his partner and his YouTube video call for marriage equality (San Diego LGBT Weekly, Aug. 23: Issue 92; cover feature), which has received more than 3 million hits.

Bonnie Dumans and Big Mike

Supervisor Ron Roberts, chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors presented the 2012 Michael G. Portantino Media Award to publisher David Mannis who has overseen the establishment and operation of more than six local publications in the last three decades. Currently, Mannis’ publishing company owns San Diego Uptown News, Gay San Diego, and San Diego Downtown News.

But, it was “Big Mike” Phillips who received one of the longest and perhaps the loudest roars of applause from the crowd when he received the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. It appeared that Phillips was taken completely by surprise as District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis conspired with Ramirez to pull off a ruse that had the audience lulled into thinking she was delivering her acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award until the last second, when she named “Big Mike” Phillips as the actual recipient. Phillips was teary-eyed and rendered almost speechless as he took the stage and accepted his Nicky, saying simply, “Thank you; thank you” before exiting, stage right.

Dumanis spoke of Phillips’ big heart, saying that he is always working as an activist in the LGBT community. “He has been someone who (has always been available to be called on) for fundraising and volunteering for countless causes and organizations even during his own life’s toughest challenges.”

Lisa Sanders, openly lesbian daughter of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who Ramirez called “the first daughter of San Diego,” was presented with the 2012 Presidential Award by Allan Spyere who praised Sanders for her leadership and civil rights activism.

Ben Cartwright and Lisa Sanders

San Diego school board member Kevin Beiser presented the 2012 Man and Woman of the Year honors at the end of the event to Benny Cartwright, executive director of San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and Lisa Sanders. Man and Woman of the Year votes were cast during the program by those in attendance that night.

Among the outstanding entertainment was international personality Flava, who starred in the Academy Award-winning movie Milk and young American Idol singer Ms. Cherilyn Mallari, whose live performance of two songs, as one person put it “just about blew the roof off the ballroom.”

Renowned drag diva Grace Towers and her dance troupe garnered loud applause and cheers.

The 2012 Nick Awards benefitted The LGBT Community Center, the civil rights fund of the Human Dignity Foundation and the programs of the Imperial Court de San Diego, Inc.

The complete list of  awards and winners (Alphabetically by award category)


2012 Mayor George Moscone Memorial Award



2012 Harvey Milk Equality Award

Shane Bitney Crone


2011 Michael Portantino Outstanding Achievement in the Media Award

David Mannis


2012 Nicky Awards ‐ Special Honors

Big Mike Phillips


Outstanding Adult Business

Pleasures & Treasures


Outstanding Bank

California Bank & Trust & Union Bank (North Park)


Outstanding Bar Employee

Carlos Dominguez (Martinis Above Fourth)


Outstanding Bar Event

Church @ Babycakes


Outstanding Bar Manager

Chuck Ferrante (Bourbon Street)


Outstanding Bartender ‐ Female

Moe Girton (Gossip Grill)


Outstanding Bartender ‐ Male

Corey (Bourbon Street)


Outstanding Brunch

Urban Mo’s


Outstanding Business

Ace Hardware


Outstanding Business Man

Wayne Back


Outstanding Business Woman

Deborah Scott


Outstanding Community Activist

Patrick Wallace


Outstanding Community Event

San Diego Pride


Outstanding Community Organization

San Diego LGBT Center


Outstanding Community Volunteer

Aaron Heier


Outstanding DJ / VJ

DJ Nikno & DJ Taj


Outstanding Entertainer / Group

San Diego Gay Mens Chorus


Outstanding Female Personality

Kim Rescate


Outstanding Female Waitperson

Gaby Medina (R Gang Eatery)


Outstanding Hillcrest Bar

Urban Mo’s


Outstanding Hillcrest Restaurant

Arrivederci & Martinis Above Fourth


Outstanding HIV / AIDS Service Provider

Family Health Centers of San Diego


Outstanding Impersonator

Cassidy Richards & Candi Samples


Outstanding Levi / Leather Event

Bearnight @ Numbers


Outstanding Levi / Leather Personality

Glitz Glam


Outstanding Male Personality

Ian Johnson


Outstanding Male Waitperson

Anthony Pavlovic (Baja Betty’s)


Outstanding Neighborhood Bar



Outstanding New Business

Wangs & Snooze


Outstanding Night Club / Dance Bar



Outstanding Nite Club Dancer

Marshall Alexander


Outstanding On‐Line Media



Outstanding Owner

Christopher Stavros (Babycakes)


Outstanding Performing Arts Venue

Diversionary Theatre


Outstanding Pharmacy

Mom’s Priority Pharmacy


Outstanding Publication

The RAGE Monthly


Outstanding Sports Organization

San Diego American Flag Football League


Outstanding Straight Ally

Jamie Fox


Outstanding Title Holder

Laur Darell ‐ Mr. Gay Black San Diego


Outstanding Transgender Personality

Connor Maddocks


Outstanding University Heights / North Park Bar

Bourbon Street


Outstanding University Heights / North Park Restaurant

West Coast Tavern


Outstanding Women’s Night

Repent @ Richs (607 Events)


Outstanding Writer/Columnist

Anthony King (Gay San Diego)


Outstanding Youth (18 ‐ 20)

Nick Fowler


Man of the Year

Benny Cartwright


Woman of the Year

Lisa Sanders


Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=28594

Posted by on Sep 6, 2012. Filed under Around the City. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “37th Nicky Awards draws big crowd, delivers emotional appeal”

  1. Are you sure you have the right list? Bacchus House and the Gay & Lesbian Times have been closed for years.

    • Thanks for the note. This list originally came from Nicky’s Facebook. Correct list is now up.
      Thanks for reading LGBTweekly.com

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