Iconic Drag Performer Loses Leg to Diabetes Complications
In a sad post-script to his victorious battle to be reinstated as a nurse by state officials, Ray Fetcho—a/k/a Tiny Tina—has lost his leg due to complications from a long battle with diabetes.
Fetcho, who was the subject of an SFGN investigative series earlier this year, was fired as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) after a routine background screening of the assisted living facility that employed him found a decades-old arrest on his record.
The arrest had occurred in 1976, when Tiny Tina was hosting a “Wet Jockey Shorts Contest” at The Copa, a popular Fort Lauderdale nightclub for over 30 years.
Fetcho contacted SFGN to report his dismissal, and Fort Lauderdale-based attorneys Russell Cormican and Norm Kent—who is the Publisher of SFGN— volunteered to take the case in order to secure an exemption from state officials to allow Fetcho to return to work.
But the sweet victory of those past months has been replaced by the stark reality of Fetcho’s increasingly poor health. Shortly after SFGN reported the original story, Fetcho was hospitalized from an infection that turned into a wound, which in turn quickly became gangrenous.
Life-saving surgery was performed on Fetcho on June 10, at which time his left leg was amputated below the knee.
According to Fetcho’s former partner, Robert Trout, “Ray is going to require rehab and assistance with the daily costs of living. In addition to his hospital bills he’s going to need a wheelchair, a special ramp for access to his home, and help with daily expenses.”
At the time he was hospitalized, the newly-reinstated nursing professional had plans to start a new job in Coconut Creek at a senior activity center. Out of work for months prior, he had no insurance coverage.As Trout observes, Fetcho’s age leaves him in a virtual no- man’s land for services.
“Ray is 62.That means he doesn’t qualify for Medicare,” he notes.“He falls between the cracks, because there are no state programs to pay for him to go to rehab, or to the bank, or the grocery store.”
Trout, who has been granted power of attorney for Fetcho, says that an ac- count has been established at Fifth Third Bank in Fort Lauderdale where donations can be made to help with Fetcho’s bills.A benefit co-sponsored by SFGN is also planned.
Added Nikki Adams, a fellow drag emcee and long-time colleague of Tiny Tina’s “For over 30 years, she’s been there whenever anyone needed her to perform, to emcee, or just to bring a heart full of love. It’s time to give back to her.”