Scott Ball / Rivard Report
"Fun" was the buzzword resounding from the top of the Phipps building Sunday afternoon as four lip-synching drag queens danced celebrations to life on a multicolor carpeted runway. The occasion: Paramour's monthly Pride Week Drag Brunch.
More than 150 people munched on traditional brunch items, like pastries and breakfast tacos, and sipped on mimosas and Bloody Marys as they awaited the drag show at noon. A staple since the beginning of the year, the free event takes place every last Sunday of the month.
Drag queens Lucy Lips, Jorgeous Waters, and Nilaya Milan-Mathews were the stars of the fetish-themed performance, a celebration in conjunction with Pride Month. Kristi Waters, show director and hostess at Babio's Night Club, emceed the event.
"It’s a lot of fun because we get a lot of straight people that don’t come out to the gay scene nightclubs," Kristi Waters said. "Either they’ve never been or feel uncomfortable, so here it’s a different experience for them. It’s a lot of fun to see the different kind of people that come through the doors.”
Rainbow flags and Moët & Chandon wine coolers adorned tables as brunchgoers in bright Sunday garb mingled and commented on the show.
"I think it just speaks for itself," attendee Blaine Rucker said, pointing at his "Make America Gay Again" rainbow T-Shirt. "It kinda goes against what's going on right now [politically], but it's also just a fun pun on it. It can be taken as a slant on it or it can be taken as something positive too. It goes both ways.”
Despite this Pride Month being the first after last year's mass shooting at an Orlando, Fla.-night club and also the first under the Trump administration, the mood remained light and bubbly well into the afternoon.
The event's theme was fetishes, but only few attendees embraced it by wearing black leathers harnesses, toy whips, or high-heeled black leather boots. A few audience members were heard chatting about the event's "lack of gayness."
However, as drag becomes a more mainstream form of entertainment, queens like Kristi believe the community that created it can enjoy greater acceptance and newfound audiences.
“Its getting a lot better because before we had to kind of hide ourselves or hide off in dark bars and away from people just to do what we like to do," Kristi said. "Now we can go out and do things for straight, gay, trans [people. All kinds] of communities and people kind of accept it now.”
Elaine has been attending the drag brunches at Paramour since they first started in January. She finds relief in the performances, but didn't give her full name due to the sensitivity of her work. She frequents several drag shows around town and is familiar with many of the performers, their backgrounds, performance history, and costumes.
"I just think it's fun," Elaine said. "It's kind of like theater for me. I like the performing arts, going to plays and live musicals. I can come and forget my troubles for about two hours. Its a form of entertainment that is open to all. Everyone can enjoy it.”
"I think its good to see a community that accepts everybody and is just there for each other," Kristi said. Whether you’re gay or straight, she said, "you just have a good time and celebrate life together.”
The next Drag Brunch will take place on Sunday, July 30. For more information, click here.