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The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary

Photo by Jan Johnson.

This past Saturday, About Magazine had the honor of being invited to Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon for a special event to mark their five-year anniversary.

08252018_Neon-Boots-5-Yr-Anniversary-153 The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary
Photo by Jan Johnson.

(HOUSTON) – When Neon Boots says that they’re going to throw a party, let me tell you … they throw a party. Houston’s favorite country & western LGBTQ bar located at 11410 Hempstead Rd. celebrated its five-year anniversary this past Saturday with a slew of performances in their Illusions Drag Show and with a special finale to their Summer Concert Series out on the patio with a performance by singer-songwriter Paige Lewis. The bar’s co-owner, Debbie Storrs, sat down with About Magazine leading up to the party for a special interview after which she invited us to be her guests at the event.

And why? Because that’s just the sort of thing that Storrs and her business partners (Jim Gerhold, Rodney Myers, Ron McLeroy, and Fernando Garcia) do for their patrons and the people that they love. For five years, the smart folks behind Neon Boots (which previously also included James Daily and the recently passed Jim Moore) have been giving back to the community that’s kept them in business for half a decade with concerts, dance lessons, nightly karaoke, parties, drinks, food, and more. And the night of the fifth anniversary was no exception, with the owners even providing a special champagne toast to round off the performance and commemorative anniversary pins for all their guests.

NB1 The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary
Kara Dion with About editor-in-chief Anthony Ramirez and CCO Wendy Taylor. Photo by Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

The evening began before the seven o’clock hour with patrons of the bar rolling in for the Illusions Show, which featured some of Houston’s most talented drag entertainers, including the current reigning Miss Gay USofA, Janet Fierce Andrews, Dina Jacobs, Adeciya Iman, Lauren Taylor, Amanda Nicole (who filled in last minute for Christina Ross) and About Magazine favorite, Kara Dion. The ladies performed a number of tributes, parodies, and favorites to a zealous audience that broke out their dollar bills for each and every performance. Kara Dion — who recently suffered a sciatic nerve injury — made her grand reappearance that night, approaching the stage slowly at first only to break out into the normal grandeur and drama that keep fans coming back to see her over-and-over. The audience was so impressed with Dion, in fact, that before she was even halfway through her very first number, a line had formed from the stage all the way to the end of the dance floor to tip her as she performed. These lines recurred during each of Kara’s numbers. Dina Jacobs brought out the best of Tina Turner and Dame Shirley Bassey, while Amanda Nicole put forth a tribute to Lady Gaga and Rihanna, among others.

08252018_Neon-Boots-5-Yr-Anniversary-147 The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary
Kara Dion. Photo by Jan Johnson.

Outside on the patio on what turned not to be a terribly humid or unbearably hot evening, Paige Lewis performed a set that wowed audiences on the patio throughout the evening. A native of Katy, Texas, Lewis is a singer-songwriter who spends half her time in Houston and the other half in Los Angeles. This September, Lewis will begin her tour through California, Texas, Washington, and Oregon.

Following the drag show, Storrs took to the stage to thank her entire staff, her special guests, friends from in and around the LGBTQ community and the city of Houston, and to unveil a brand new piece of their bar that she described previously as something she was “very excited” about (featured below). But once she’d had time to thank everyone around her and those who couldn’t be there — including a teary-eyed message of love to her late business partner, Jim Moore — Storrs kicked off the remainder of the night by telling the excited crowd, “Now let’s party!”

NB2 The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary
Photo by Angelo S. Ortiz Vela

And so everyone did. The house only seemed to continue to pack itself out as the night progressed. The dance floor became busy with regulars who fell in to enjoy a few drinks and good music; the historic Esquire Room packed up nicely as Dina Jacobs filled in to host karaoke where the About staff and friends sang and spent time around the bar. Out on the patio, patrons new and old clinked glasses, spoke to the staff, laughed over drinks and cigarettes, and listened to music that played overhead as the night drifted away. All-in-all, the night was an overwhelming success. Neon Boots has done the very thing that Storrs told About just a few weeks ago: they’ve created an “everybody bar”. Sure, the history of Neon Boots — which occupies the space of the former Esquire Ballroom, which was open for forty years before closing in 1995 — is surrounded in tales of country music legends like Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, and Loretta Lynn; and sure, its’ an LGBTQ bar now that hosts events in the community’s honor by working with Pride Houston, the Texas Gay Rodeo Association, and many others. But what you see when you walk into Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon is exactly what you get: a mixed bag of patrons — whom Storrs affectionately says are not “customers” but “friends and family […] but mostly family” — of all different sexual orientations, races, religions, gender identifications, and more.

If the fifth anniversary celebration at Neon Boots proved anything, it proved that Debbie Storrs was telling the truth when she said that Neon was an everybody bar. Young, old, Black, white, gay, straight, trans, Asian, Latino, and otherwise, everybody came out to Neon Boots to have a gay old time — the kind that only a place as special as Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon could provide.

Check out the rest of the pictures from the rest of the photos from the anniversary here.

NB3 The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary
Photo by Angelo S. Ortiz Vela
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Dina Jacobs. Photo by Jan Johnson.

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Join Us at Neon Boots’ 5th Anniversary Party

Neon Boots LGBTQ Country Bar Anniversary

Houston’s favorite LGBTQ country bar, Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, will be celebrating its five-year anniversary tomorrow, August 25th. About Magazine will be in the house and we invite everyone to join us for a night of live music, drag, dancing, karaoke, food, and laughter.

(HOUSTON) – The city’s largest LGBTQ country bar, Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, may only be 5-years-old now, but the history of its building — the former Esquire Ballroom, which began the careers of many legends such as Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline — goes back decades. As discussed in our previous piece about the bar’s anniversary, the Esquire Ballroom opened back in 1955 and saw everyone from Willie Nelson to Loretta Lynn. While it officially shut down in 1995, a full forty years later, the current business owners of Neon Boots have made a special point of keeping that history alive — even naming the bar’s quaint karaoke room the Esquire Room.

37979772_1087736671400160_399237718632038400_o-1 Join Us at Neon Boots' 5th Anniversary PartyTomorrow, Neon Boots will celebrate five years with two big events — one on the main stage indoors, and one on the bar’s beautiful and spacious back patio. While both events are scheduled to begin at 7PM, visitors will have the opportunity to move back-and-forth to both. Inside, the Neon Boots staff and patrons (whom co-owner Debbie Storrs affectionately refers to as “family”) will be entertained and delighted by the Illusions Show — a drag performance featuring some of Houston’s top drag queens: reigning Miss Gay USofA Janet Fierce Andrews, Dina Jacobs, Adeciya Iman, Christina Ross, Lauren Taylor, and About Magazine favorite and former Miss Gay Texas America, Kara Dion. The show goes until nine and standing room tickets are available for just $5. Patrons who wish to dine can purchase other tiered ticketing options, table reservations and bottle service. Food will be available at the event as well. Guests who attend will also receive a commemorative Neon Boots anniversary pin as a gift from the bar’s owners.

Out on the patio, Neon Boots will be hosting its final free concert of the summer, wrapping up the Summer Concert Series that has proven to be a success this past year with performances by such Houston singers as Jasmine “JassyB” Branch, Starr Jernigan, and About’s very own Wendy Taylor. Bringing the concert series to a close will be none other than singer/songwriter and Katy-native, Paige Lewis. Neon Boots’ delicious and enormous hamburgers will be served (while supplies last) on the patio for just $5, but admission to the concert is free of charge.

38127545_1091424141031413_9000986790705758208_o Join Us at Neon Boots' 5th Anniversary PartySo put your best boot-scootin’ boots on, warm-up your voice for karaoke with in-house karaoke host and vocalist Steven Tilotta, put on something cute for a picture in front of the step-and-repeat, and come have a great Saturday night celebrating Neon Boots with About Magazine editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, and creative director, Wendy Taylor.

See y’all there!


RSVP to Both Events on Facebook

Illusions Show | Paige Lewis

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Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ Artists

Vitamin B Brice Cobb Drag Houston Album

Just because Brice Cobb (known better as drag queen Vitamin B) suffered an injury that broke her leg doesn’t mean she’s letting it break her spirit.

(HOUSTON) – Anyone who knows anything about Houston’s drag queens knows one thing: they may love to mess around, but when it comes to their careers, they’re aren’t here to play. Playful, hilarious, spontaneous, and spry, the drag queen community in Houston is constantly tapping into its wealth of personalities, powers, and pageantry to offer audiences something new. And from queen-to-queen, there’s something different to be offered to those audiences. Whether it comes from the reigning Miss Gay Texas America Regina Blake-DuBois’s unrivaled Broadway numbers at her Monday night show, The Broad’s Way, at Michael’s Outpost, the many cartoon character portrayals of Carmina Vavra, the beautifully eccentric costumes and mixes brought to you by Ondi, or the bearded beauty herself, Blackberri, singing at you to give her a dollar, there’s no shortage of different personalities in the Houston drag scene. And creating a personality that is new, vibrant, inventive, and novel isn’t easy. But what’s harder? Keeping it alive.

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Brice Cobb as Vitamin B

Drag isn’t for the faint of heart, nor is it for those without a thick skin. Like with all performance art, performing drag is taking the risk of being rejected by an audience. Will they like a performance? Will they understand the costume? Will I remember the words to the song? How can I own this and make it mine? There’s much to be considered. What draws people to drag is the very thing that make it so unique — its aberrance. And as time goes on, drag is becoming more-and-more cultural in and out of the LGBTQ community. Whether it be noticed by people outside the community watching RuPaul on a weekly basis, locals attending drag bingos and drag story times at local bars and libraries, or LGBTQ people attending its many events throughout their cities, drag is constantly gaining more steam and becoming more popular.

So what happens when tragedy strikes a queen on the road to success who’s made a name for herself and is gaining recognition? Ask Brice Cobb, otherwise known by his stage name as Vitamin B. Vitamin first made her stage debut last February and was well on her way to her two year anniversary in drag when she snapped her tibia in half earlier this month during a performance at Magical Girl Day in Houston. The weekend-long convention hosted a number of Houston’s drag performers, but during a performance of Katy Perry’s “Hey Hey Hey” (a relatively slow song), Vitamin fell backwards resulting in her injury, only to get back up and finish the number for her cheering audience. What Vitamin hoped was a quick-to-heal injury turned out to be her tibia split in half, which required full bedrest, a cast and bone stimulator, and a hiatus from drag until as early as the beginning of 2019. What followed, however, may have been equally devastating. Cobb, who is a substitute teacher by day and a full-time drag performer by night, was forced to hit the brakes on both jobs and was even forced to drop out of the very popular Dessie’s Drag Race at Rich’s during its third All Stars season.

But is B letting the injury keep her down? Not entirely. As a queen who took her drag seriously and one that worked to prove her place in the community, Vitamin B isn’t hiding away during this time of recovery. In fact, she’s here to make sure that no one forgets her name before her big comeback early next year. One way that she’s done this has been through a hilarious and well-received release of “albums” following the release of Ariana Grande’s fourth album, Sweetener. And the first one looked like this:

39392497_2335106696514647_5899726558511235072_o Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ ArtistsYes, that’s right. Modeled after the Sweetener album cover came Vitamin B’s own Sweet-N-Low. But that’s not all. After gaining attention from her many drag and performer friends, Vitamin B has gone on to establish a pseudo-record label and “sign” her various entertainer brothers and sisters. Each “album” mimes the personalities of various performers, with tracks and titles named after catchphrases, personal lives, quirks, and trademarks. From Carmina Vavra’s Waluigi album to Tatiana Mala-Niña’s Looking for Roman, each album is a fun poke at the artist with the sort of love-filled trolling only a fellow entertainer who has worked alongside them could muster up.

 

Vitamin B told About Magazine:

“I mean the reason why I’m doing is this is because, honestly, I’m so alone right now. I’m separated from my life […] Making these album posts is keeping me busy and connected with my community.”

Take a look at a few of our favorite album covers below:

Lily VonTease: I Am Breast

Highlights: “Houston’s Drag Race? IDK Her”, “Please Book Me”, “I’m a Lesbian Now” (feat. Liza Lott), “Smallest Waist”.

39522550_2339214309437219_1798774338409725952_o Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ Artists

 

Blackberri: Bearded Beauty Herself

Highlights: “Angelo Where Are My Photos”, “I Host Everything”, and “U Don’t Book Me, I Book You”.

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Estella Blow: 1% African

Highlights: “I Scammed Adriana for $600”, “1 Point Behind” (feat. Ondi), “The Room Bar Stalls”, and “I Won Best Alt Queen and Quit Drag”.

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Violet S’Arbleu: I Am 31

Highlights: “Carbs (Gimme Gimme Gimme)”, “Hi Hi”, and “There’s My Mom … Drinking Her Wine”.

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Estella Blow & Blackberri: Blowberri

Highlights: “101% African”, “We Were Drunk When We Crowned Iris”, “Did Angelo Send Your Photo?”, and “Skin 2 Skin”.

39557978_2339336882758295_4673391478561570816_o Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ Artists

 

Tatiana Mala Niña: Looking for Roman

Highlights: This whole thing is magic. Let’s be honest.

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Angelina DM Trailz: AHHHHHHHH

Highlights: “Guys Come to Guava”, “Don’t Forget Your Vitamins”, and “Ahhhhh”.

39521921_2339382989420351_8782283315076923392_o Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ Artists

 

Carmina Vavra: Waluigi

Highlights: (Also basically perfect, but if we have to pick) “Wahhhhh!”, “Bring Me Cigs”, and “Crimson Chin”.

39506933_2337384866286830_2484939761022664704_o Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ Artists

 

Ondi: I Am White

Highlights: “I Am White”, “Zack Emerson’s Pubes”, “I’m an Artist. That Over There is Trash”, and “Have Some Taste Will You”.

39504863_2339241649434485_1416609015995039744_o Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ Artists

 

Regina Blake-DuBois: Current Reigning

Highlights: “Fair Regina” (feat. the Broad’s Way), “Dessie’s Gown”, and “Good Witch”.

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Dessie Love-Blake: Queen

Highlights: “Stage Mom”, “Let’s Just Have Everyone Lipsync”, “Regina is My Daughter”, and my personal favorite of all the song titles on any album, “Miss Pinky Nail 1894 … Kara Dion”.

39442808_2337725759586074_5001051136254279680_o Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ ArtistsOne thing is safe to say: no matter how long Vitamin B is out of commission with her leg, with this level of love she’s showing the Houston drag scene, she won’t be forgotten and she will certainly have a place to come back home to when she’s fully recovered.

Chloe T. Crawford and Her Road to Texas

Chloe T Crawford Miss Gay Harris County America Drag Houston

Chloe T. Crawford is Miss Gay Harris County America … but she isn’t stopping there.

Back in January, About Magazine had the chance to sit down with Chloe T. Crawford, following her big win as Miss Gay Harris County America. Now, Chloe is heading to the state level, we’re she’ll be performing and competing at the state level.

Chloe, who has been doing drag for the last seven years, now performs all around Houston, and will even be hosting a benefit show on Monday, April 23rd, at JR’s to raise money to help her get to the state-level competition.

Here’s a little about what she had to say about the journey so far.

27267019_10215624156096615_630803530_o Chloe T. Crawford and Her Road to Texas
Photo by David Guerra

So, tell me a little bit about yourself? How you got started doing drag, what made you want to do it, how you got here, and how its affected your whole being.

In June, this will be my fourth year. I’ve always been a fan of drag, but I didn’t look at it as something that I could do. Because when I would see the drag queens that I wanted to emulate, they were trans, and I was a boy. So, I was kind of like, Well … I don’t know if that’s for me. And then I watched RuPaul’s Drag Race the first and second year, and I didn’t quite relate to any of them, either. But then I saw the third year of it, when Manila and Raja did it, and I went, Oh, okay. That’s beautiful. I can relate to their performance and costumes. So, literally that is what started it all off.

Do you think that those two have influenced you to bring something out to drag that a lot of other people aren’t bringing to drag? 

Everybody’s take on drag is different. You might take a piece you saw on TV, or see how someone did their makeup on Instagram, or get inspired for a costume by something you saw at the museum. And nobody can take that or make that, because you thought of all those things together. And that’s what you bring on stage. I don’t necessarily think that I’m revolutionizing drag, but I am giving my own view on it, which can only come from me.

In the seven years you’ve been doing drag, how many of those years have you been doing pageants and competitions? 

Literally I did one pageant before this, which was Houston Newcomer. I won that and then it went to state, Texas Newcomer. But that’s with a different system, U.S. of A. But the goal for it is that with Newcomer you only have three years to compete. So, basically it’s a learning pageant for you … with training wheels. I went to America because I had learned what I needed to learn my first time, then I took that to America. This is my first year with America. 

27330079_10215623937651154_1989893463_o Chloe T. Crawford and Her Road to Texas
Photo by David Guerra.

What have your drag mothers [Vancie Vega & Tommie Ross] taught you that have made you a better performer that you may not have learned without them? 

Confidence. A lot of what they continue to preach to me is how to present myself. But it’s not like, “Oh, this how you be classy,” it’s more of what my vision of Chloe is, and knowing that Chloe is able to elevate and get better on her own and portray that.

In that same vain in being true to Chloe, where do you see your career going? Where would you like to see yourself?

I’d like to continue with pageants. I like doing it. I want to move forward in that world.

Do you have any performances you’ve done or any looks you’ve put on that are favorites of yours or that stand out to you when you think of an excellent performance? 

I don’t know. That idea is something that I’d like to think of all my looks and performances. I mean, you’re only as good as your last performance. So, with each one, you want to one-up the one before it.

As far as being in the drag community and getting to work with so many other drag queens, can you tell me a little about how the relationships you’ve made have been special to you as a person and a performer?

We gain sisterhoods because of the fact that you’re with the same group of girls weekly. So, it’s kind of like going to the office. You create relationships, but you also become one another’s family. Some girls I see four times per week. Just from that time, it becomes sisterly. I love you; I hate you; I can’t stand you; you’re my best friend. All of that rolls into one. I don’t think that it ends up being fake, but actually real.

It’s sort of like a biological family, because you don’t pick them. They’re just there.

Exactly! That’s exactly correct.

27336166_10215623936411123_322039034_o Chloe T. Crawford and Her Road to Texas
Photo by David Guerra.

So, tell me about your pageant win. Gorgeous crown, by the way. 

Thank you. I was shocked [when my name was called]. They give you a break down of percentages. I don’t know what I was thinking. My mind was blank standing there, just wondering what was going to happen next. But I won Best Male Interview, Best Evening Gown, and Presentation. So, when they were passing out all the plaques, I was like, “Oh, I got another. Oh, another. Yay.” But even when I was getting them, I didn’t think I’d won. Because I know that the Talent [category] counts the most. In my head, I was like doing the math. But I was still thinking I was first alternate … until they called my name.

With the next pageant coming up in July (in Dallas), what are you looking at with your performance coming up? 

Oh, no, sir! [Laughs] It’s a secret. I’ll tell you this –

See how easy that was? 

No! [Laughs] I’ll tell you this as a side-note. It’s all top-secret. Even your presentation. The theme this year for Miss Texas is Garden Party. So, you can do something with gardens, or spring, or whatever. But it’s judged. So, you don’t want to give that information out, because people can see what you’re doing and try to copy it.

29750218_1675458015882255_7162014448484703319_o Chloe T. Crawford and Her Road to TexasWhat advice would you give to a new drag performer if you could?

Hmm. I’d say a few things. “Don’t do it!” [Laughs] No, I’d say to always believe in yourself. Be open to critique. You don’t know everything, especially if you just started. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you can’t receive the information. But, ultimately, believe in who you are and what your vision is. Because, even if I give you criticism on what you’re doing, you’re the only one who knows what you’re trying to bring to the stage and what your vision is. So, some critique you can take, and others you may say, “Oh, that’s not for me.” But be open to receiving it.

Is something you struggled with? 

I just know that there are times when you’re starting out when you believe so much in something and you’re so excited, and then you have these older queens with such knowledge who see what you’re trying to do, and who want to help you. But you sometimes don’t want to receive it because you’re excited about your ideas. But we all have those moments.

“I don’t necessarily think that I’m revolutionizing drag, but I am giving my own view on it, which can only come from me.”

If you could tell your younger self something about what you’re going to end up or give that you some knowledge, what would that be? 

I don’t know what I’d say. I don’t know where I would be had I not gotten on the journey. And all these experiences made me who I am.

Any final thoughts? 

So, I work with HATCH Youth. HATCH is a program for queer teens to come and have a safe space to talk about their lives where they have mentors. They also have activities like movie nights and they do drag shows.  I’ll be doing shows throughout my reign and donating money to them, as well as mentoring those kids to build a better view of who they are in the world, even outside of drag.