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A kiss goodbye: A tribute to Ken Campbell

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Photo courtesy of Boy Mike
Photo courtesy of Boy Mike

The fabulous Ken Campbell passed away on Dec. 13, 2021, but not before leaving his mark on the art world: his political cartoons for the SGN.

Ken was very outgoing and kind, and loved his cat Cheeto. He loved his family fiercely. He also literally had hundreds of friends and family on whom he left an indelible mark during his life. We will never forget how he touched our lives in so many ways.

I first met Ken 31 years ago at Neighbours night club. I had a popular Tuesday night show there called "Retroverge," mixing '70s disco and '80s new wave with a show and audience prizes. Ken never missed a night. We quickly became very close friends.

At the time, I was the manager of Retro Viva, a clothing store in the University District. I lived in a huge loft/warehouse space above the store. We had many parties there. One night, the police were called due to a few noise complaints. The loft faced the alley and was on the second floor. The police surrounded us but could not figure out how to get in. Ken got a kick out of that.

I told him we would need to shut the party down, because partiers wanted to smoke outside. He said, "Hell no — let 'em smoke locked inside!"

Thanks to Ken, the party raged all night.

Ken frequently spent the night at the warehouse with me. He loved that loft. It was our own Party Palace.

Then we discovered the rave scene. I remember getting $100 per night just to show up in disco club drag for ambiance.

One night, the rave promoters hoisted me high above the dance floor on a swing. I looked like a big, sparkling, Gay piñata! The only problem was that they forgot to get me down. They couldn't find the ladder.

After nearly two hours, Ken finally saved me by finding a tall ladder. He was my knight in shining armor. He literally saved my life that night.

I was always thrilled to be seen with him. He was so handsome, fun, unpredictable, and entertaining.

Around 1991 I offered him a sales position at Retro Viva. We worked together for three or four years. One day, Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart cane into the store. Ken worshipped them and was both flabbergasted and incredibly starstruck. Nancy was kind of a rebel and lit up a cigarette right in the store!

Without skipping a beat, Ken used his artistic ability to quickly create a folded paper ashtray for her. He told me to let her smoke right there.

It was a good decision, because the Wilson sisters became regular customers and would drop three to five thousand dollars at the store every Friday, without fail, for an entire summer. Ken got a cash bonus for that.

Ken always had a unique way of expressing himself. When he was shocked or questioned something, he raised his eyebrows and ears. It was very Batman of him. He frequently looked like a surprised cat.

Last Christmas he presented me with a magnetic sculpture of Tinkerbell from Peter Pan and a hand-drawn caricature of me in drag. I will always treasure them.

Ken was my partner in crime. My cohort. My muse. I loved hanging out with him at his apartment on Capitol Hill just down from the Eagle Tavern.

He was one of my closest and most treasured friends. I've gathered a few of his friends' and family's photos and memories of him. Please continue to read them below.

Ken was treasured, and his legacy will never be forgotten.

I love you, Ken!

Boy Mike