British man John Crawford was arrested, at age 19 and over 50 years ago, for buggery, a crime that is no longer, in fact, a crime — and yet he must still tell potential employers about his criminal record. Now there’s Ray Fetcho, who performs in drag as Tiny Tina. He is 61, has spent the last forty years as a registered nurse, and just lost his job because in 1976 he was arrested for the promotion of a lewd act. It was a wet underwear contest.
This isn’t just ridiculous. It is unjust.
Unfortunately, in 1976, while hosting a ‘Wet Jockey Shorts Night’ at the Copa, he was busted for promoting a lewd act. Today, that incident has come back to haunt him. The state has told him he can no longer be a nurse because of the conviction.
For the past 15 years, Fetcho has been an acclaimed and honored employee at Victoria Villa, an assisted living facility in Davie, recognized for his “compassionate service to the elderly.”
On March 31, 1976, Fetcho, performing as ‘Tiny Tina’ at the Copa in Dania Beach, was charged and convicted of promoting ‘lewd and lascivious’ behavior by throwing small buckets of water on boys’ briefs while hosting the irreverent ‘Wet Jockey Shorts’ contest.
Last month, that dated conviction from his past became a nightmare. Last week, Ray Fetcho was summarily fired from the job he has loved and cherished. A state licensing agency, the Agency for Health Care Administration, doing a routine screening inspection of nursing home employees, told him he would be ineligible to remain on the job at his facility “because of the lewd act conviction” from thirty plus years ago.
This wasn’t a prostitution ring. It wasn’t some naked go-go boy racket. It was the sort of thing we’ve all been spectators of at some point.
30 years ago, John Castelli, and his partner, the late Bill Bastiansen, were the owners of the Copa, which hosted renowned drag queens like Tiny Tina, Nikki Adams, and the late Dana Manchester.
Today, Castelli is a respected broker of Castelli and Associates in Wilton Manors. After being told of Fetcho’s plight Saturday morning, Castelli commented: “Oh my God! What century are we living in? It was such an innocent situation. The boys always wore briefs. No one was exposed. That was during the Anita Bryant era, a lifetime ago.” Castelli even remembered the incident, noting he and his partner had to bond Fetcho out of jail.