“I am so proud. (It’s) kind of like the scene at the end of ‘Bring It On’ – I was yelling, ‘4th place, Hell yeah!'” he said, laughing.
Godek was the Chicago representative in the finals after winning the four-person Chicago competition of the international event, held May 11 at Sidetrack.
Godek, a bartender at The Call, competed against about 20 other LGBT and LGBT-allied bartenders to win $10,000 for his chosen charity.
The Cocktail Classic celebrates the role that gay bars have played as original community centers and the LGBT and ally bar stars who continue to raise the bar for equality today.
“I had the time of my life (in the finals),” Godek said. “I met contenders and judges from (everywhere) and made lifelong friendships with LGBTQ philanthropic people just like me. Our charities can now interact and help each other. I think that alone is mind-blowing and important.”
Godek earned first-place in all categories of the first preliminary event.
“It was amazing to be on stage, having Lance Bass watch me perform, flipping the script from me watching him and *NSYNC when I was younger,” he said.
But Godek’s highlight was when his mom and aunt flew down to support him.
“We snuck away for a dinner after the first official event at the Island House BATH HOUSE pool party. She was there to watch me work the party and encourage Stoli VIP guests and Key West residents to yell “Team Chicago” through my megaphone all over the party and island,” Godek said. “She was only there for one day, but helped me craft and glue some tacky props and costumes. She also drove by an event the next day, rolled down the window and yelled ‘Team Chicago!’
“I felt loved and supported by all of Chicago, the people of the Island of Key West, but also for the first time by my mother – and that felt amazing. That was also the day I went on stage and got first-place in all categories.”
Godek added, “I went down (to Key West) to raise awareness of my charity and home bar. I have connected them with new opportunities and I came home feeling like a winner.”
Godek raised more than $4,200 for the Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN).
“I walked off the stage after losing and a gay-positive couple pulled me to the side, pulled out a phone and donated (to TPAN) on the spot. In that moment I knew my message, Chicago’s message, had landed and I was a champion for my friends back home, he said, fighting back tears.
“I am so proud of the awareness and funding I can bring the people of TPAN. My roommate even launched a TPAN Pride Month fundraiser in his restaurant, Cheesie’s, donating $1 per slice of profit from any “Pride Pizza” rainbow pizza sales.”
Patrik Gallineaux, National LGBT Ambassador for Stoli USA, said Godek was one of the most “loud and clear” bar stars of all-time. Godek “represented Chicago with a consistently steadfast, witty, and focused onstage presence that perfectly entertained while delivering an exceptional cocktail,” Gallineaux added. “I see great things ahead for Robb and am glad to consider him a shining star of the Stoli Key West family.”
Godek said he made amazing connections during the Key West event – and countless memories.
“I woke up early one morning to swim in the pool with a few of my competitor friends,” Godek said. “We watched a large lizard get snatched by his neck by a hawk-like bird. (We) gay boys in the pool were shook. I will never forget that.
“I also learned how to make a Key Lime Pie. I cannot wait to impress my friends and family at my next BBQ. “
Godek said there were at least four scheduled events every day, and they often changed on the fly. Planning was not easy. “Heavy drinking, formidable opponents, and mild feelings of isolation are nothing new to me. I got my butt kicked every day – and then, after two or three hours of sleep, we’d wake up and did it again and again.
“I was a front-runner from the moment I walked onto the boat to meet my competitors, (as I was) dressed like Captain Hook. From that moment, everyone was watching to see what I was up to and what I would do next. That was my stage, where I shined – and it helped me overcome any (fears).
“I gave this contest everything. I packed like I was going on (RuPaul’s) Drag Race, (with) different props, outfits, costumes, and jokes for every event. My drink tasted great and was presented in a beautiful and appetizing way. I have no regrets. I hope I warmed up the island enough so that next year ‘Team Chicago’ can bring home a win and Chicago can fly the W.”
Godek added, “I want to thank the people of Chicago for being so amazing. Everyone was sharing the #TeamChicago, texting and messaging positive thoughts, believing in me. My phone is still blowing up; it feels amazing. My friend Stacy helped carry my bags when I got off the bus from the airport and said, ‘The city of Chicago is in love with you; please be on my Pride float.’
“I’ve never felt anything like this. I am just so happy – out, loud and marching to the beat of my own drum. It’s OK to be different and I have always believed that, but it’s refreshing to finally see others all around me believing it, and in me, too.
“I really want to thank the people of Key West. I went down there alone, knowing no one, yet they made me feel loved and embraced instantly. I look forward to many future partnerships between the people of Chicago and my new friends in Key West, and elsewhere across the country.”