Sunday Brunch is a weekly show hosted by drag goddesses Tatiana Mala-Niña and Lady Shamu that’s been happening for a while now in Houston — but in case you haven’t seen it, here are our thoughts — 5/5 stars.
(MONTROSE) — In the rather short time it’s been operating out of Montrose, Hamburger Mary’s has become a staple of Houston’s one-and-only gayborhood. The LGBTQIA-friendly restaurant and bar is just one franchise in a much larger chain of restaurants that operate all across the United States, existing in San Francisco, West Hollywood, Orlando, Chicago, Denver, and many other cities. Opening its very first location in 1972 in San Francisco, the kitschy establishment became an important part of queer history in the United States, offering bites and drinks to the LGBTQ+ community with the added flare of drag entertainment. In the 1970s, drag wasn’t quite the phenomenon it is today. While the importance of drag in queer culture really set roots during this time, there was not the public amory for it then that we see today thanks to the media attention given to films such as Paris Is Burning and television programs like RuPaul’s Drag Race. Still, even then, drag queens were very much out at work in the world, and modern drag divas owe a great thanks to the generations of drag and ball cultures that came before them to make it acceptable to perform so publicly.
That was the very first thing that came to mind when it really registered that Tatiana Mala-Niña and Lady Shamu had a brunch show together at Hamburger Mary’s. Each “entertaintress” (as Mala-Niña introduces the ladies that perform in her shows) headlining the show is from a different generation of drag than the next. And while it isn’t unusual to see younger queens performing in the shows of the queens who have been around the block a few times more, seeing two of them headline a weekly show together really caught my attention. It raised a lot of questions that I hadn’t thought about before: would their approaches to drag be different? Would their style be symbiotic with one another? Would an audience respond well to the shift from one to the next? The answers to these questions were all the same: Yes, yes, and yes. And as soon as I saw Mala-Niña and Shamu on stage together, I finally began to understand exactly what it was about their separate identities that gave them such chemistry:
These two drag queens genuinely and authentically care about what they’re doing.
After a performance by the Sunday Drag Brunch Girls (Lindsey LaRue, Sasha Frost, and Linda D. Crawford) the show began with Tatiana Mala-Niña taking the stage and performing a number in a big, bright, red tutu that found its way scraping playfully against the heads of guests as she performed. At one point, when it seemed as though a young, straight man named Tony — who had tagged along with his family for a birthday — was getting a little bashful as she approached, Tatiana saw and took the opportunity to straddle him in a lap dance, incorporating him into the number. And while her number was authentic and fun — as they always are with Tatiana — what really did and always seems to steal the show was the moment she jumped on the mic. “Y’all, I’m pregnant now,” she bantered to a roaring applause from her audience as she pointed out Tony and asked if he’d known he was going to be paying for brunch and child support at his first drag show. From then on out, Tony became an important fixture in Mala-Niña’s routine as she weaved in-and-out on the mic to introduce the other performers. The wonderful thing about this drag queen — who has done quite a bit to earn her stripes as an entertainer over the years — is that she knows exactly what she’s doing when she takes to the mic. She knows what her audience wants to see, even if she’s just learning it as she reads their faces and reactions. That fact coupled with an incredible sense of comedic timing is what keeps audiences going when Tatiana is talking. And it’s the very thing that bonds her well structurally with her co-host as she asks over the mic to the back room, “Are you ready to go on yet? I know you need a little more time because you’re old as hell.”
There is a solid handful of Houston drag queens that know their salt from being around the track a few times. Whether it be the queen of the Houston drag race, Dessie Love-Blake, the fabulous Roxanne Collins, or the incomparable (and in my opinion, queen of the free fucking world) Kara Dion, each queen from the next-to-last generation has something unique to offer. Lady Shamu is no exception to that rule. Coming out from backstage to perform a throwback number, standing on booths to dance in the faces of men turning red, and ripping her wig off as the punch line to one of her hysterical jokes, Shamu has the sort of command over an audience that’s sometimes difficult to come by in the drag community. People don’t just stop to watch her … they stop to gawk at her because she’s just so goddamn brilliant. The queen among queens leaves no holds barred as she teases audience members sitting on the outskirts of tables near her performance route and discusses in great and glorious detail the exploits she’d like to put the men in the audience through. Picking on one particular audience member, Lady Shamu joked that a woman in the audience was a “freak”, because she knew how to slip a dollar into her breasts and cop a feel, which was just the way Shamu liked it. This was just one of many jokes that left the audiences doubling over.
For the sake of journalistic integrity, I’ll say this: I’ll always be a fan and supporter of Tatiana. She was the first drag queen I ever saw perform in a gay bar (Spring, Texas’s The Room Bar) and actually plays an important role in my coming out story. That being said, I’m not quite as familiar with Lady Shamu, who I’ve only seen at Guava Lamp for Tuesday Night Bingo. Still, it’s obvious that separately Tatiana Mala-Niña and Lady Shamu are nothing short of powerhouses in their various drag shows. But when you pair the two of them together, something kind of magical happens. It’s a little unexpected and it’s a little different from what many drag enthusiasts are used to seeing, but it is magical nevertheless. Their comedy and banter are so extraordinary together that once the back-and-forth ended and the numbers began, I found myself unable to wait to see how the two played off of one another again between songs. After snatching her own wig off and putting it back on, Shamu asked Mala-Niña if her hair was crooked. To this Tatiana responded, “Not … crooked. [Pause] It is a little high though […] You’ve got IMAX forehead!” I nearly spit out my water hearing this. When Mala-Niña explained to Shamu that she’d found her new husband in the audience (the aforementioned Tony), she backtracked to her faux-suitor and asked him what his plans were for their (also) faux-baby. When Tony let her know that he was going to be moving to Canada soon, Tatiana told Tony, “Send me some weed from up there. You know … real child support.” Later when Tony took the stage for shots with the birthday guests (et al), Shamu asked his name, to which Mala-Niña promptly responded, “Mine.” Those two could have gone on for hours and the audience would have kept listening intently to their back-and-forth. Their chemistry on stage is palpable, in spite of the differences in their drag styles and what each brings to the table — although both report that they chose to perform first in the show because neither of their dance skills could match those of Crawford, Frost, and LaRue). But, in fact, those differences may be the very things that make them such a fun duo to watch, because neither queen is afraid to embrace those differences and make them a part of the joke.
As always with both queens, there’s more to their drag than just the performance and shock factor of their jokes. Lady Shamu, for instance, isn’t just up there to take dollars from audience members or to grab the next punch line of a joke. She’s something much more special: a philanthropist. At the show I attended this past Sunday before Christmas, the audience was amazed to learn that over the course of her many performances all across Houston and beyond, Lady Shamu has been raising money for a long while with her drag and has been donating to numerous charities over the years. This past Sunday’s announcement brought the news that her recent charitable works had included providing $500 a piece to four young women in foster care who wished to visit different colleges they were interested in attending, while more money funneled into local charities over the years, such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the AIDS Foundation Houston, the Houston Gay Men’s Chorus, the Transgender National Alliance, Friends of Down Syndrome, Open Gate, the Houston Pride Band, the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans, Montrose Grace Place, Houston Roller Derby, Orgullo Houston, Pride charities, Main Street Theater, Last Wishes Fund, Tony’s Place, the Montrose Center Senior Housing Project, the Montrose Softball League Association, and Toiletries for Families. Lady Shamu lamented to her audience that she doesn’t do these works for the acknowledgement or the attention, which she proved by revealing to audiences that she didn’t even share the information about the money she’s raised through drag on social media (which Mala-Niña confirmed). But here at About, I think it’s important that we do acknowledge this kind of work being done to service underserved communities. People get the idea that a drag queen is just her makeup, hair, and numbers. But a lot of the time, that just isn’t the case. These queens are working tirelessly to give back to the communities that made them who they are and are doing so quietly most of the time, because they understand the importance of doing good just for the sake of doing good. Shamu took this opportunity, as well, to share with audiences an important message about her time in drag, what it means to give back to the community, acceptance, and love.
While Shamu and Mala-Niña’s one-liners and gags punctuated the event and made it truly worthwhile, they were joined by the aforementioned Girls of Sunday Brunch (and likely some of the best dancing queens I’ve seen in the City of Houston). Each of them performed no less than one Britney Spears Number and enthralled audiences with splits, cartwheels, and somersaults. Sasha Frost took the stage at one point to a mash-up number of Spears’ “Toxic” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” (the mix was just as good as the performance, for what it’s worth). She wowed audiences with her flexibility and moves throughout her number and never let her charisma slip away for a single second. Linda D. Crawford tackled the Britney song “Womanizer” and showed off a series of high kicks that left even me — a 6’3″ dude on a high-raised bar stool — wondering just how high she could kick. Then, of course, Lindsey LaRue showed off what she was made of and truly proved herself to be not only a drag queen, but an extraordinary acrobat. After jumping off of the stage into a set of splits on the ground below it (yes … she jumped off the elevated stage and down onto the ground below it several feet down from the height of her jump and landed in a perfect set of splits), LaRue impressed audiences with her rolls across the floors, flawless rhythm, and fierce attitude. I swear to god, at one point I believed that all the hands going up in the air to hand her dollar bills as she danced down the aisles were a choreographed part of her routine. To add to the list of reasons you’d love this show, Hamburger Mary’s’ incredible waitstaff, bartenders, DJs, hosts, and everything in between are always friendly, kind, and attentive, even if the house does get packed with a crowd part of the way through the day. The waitstaff especially doesn’t often get enough credit at these events, but I’m sure I can speak for both Shamu and Mala-Niña in saying that because they have such an incredible support staff at Mary’s (many of whom also perform in drag there), their show runs much smoother.
So what am I getting at here, Houston? Well, if it isn’t obvious, I’ll put it bluntly: you have got to make some Sunday time to have brunch with Lady Shamu and Tatiana Mala-Niña. Separately they’re amazing; but something about them coming together just makes for a truly unique package that you definitely couldn’t have found as easily as you may have other under your Christmas tree this year. With show-stopping performances, well-timed jokes, and a chemistry so good that 11th graders should be studying it during school hours, Lady Shamu and Tatiana Mala-Niña have more to offer you every single week at Hamburger Mary’s.
Catch Lady Shamu Live:
Tuesday Night Bingo at Guava Lamp (10PM – 2 AM) | Sunday Drag Brunch at Hamburger Mary’s (Shows at Noon & 3) | Saturday, The Rumors Report at Rumor’s Beaumont (Shows at 11 PM & 12:30) | Saturday Nights at Rumor’s Beach Bar in Galveston | Charity Game Night at Hamburger Mary’s (7 PM)
Catch Tatiana Mala-Niña Live:
Fridays Cabernet at the Cabaret at Michael’s Outpost (7:30 PM) | Fridays Mary’s Comedy House at Hamburger Mary’s (10:30 PM) | Saturdays Eye-Cons at Michael’s Outpost (7:30 PM) | Second Saturday of Every Month Roomers at the Room Bar (11 PM) | Sunday Drag Brunch at Hamburger Mary’s (Shows at Noon & 3 PM)
Follow Lady Shamu on Social Media:
Follow Tatiana Mala Niña on Social Media:
Follow Hamburger Mary’s on Social Media:
Exposé: Untold Facts About Tatiana Mala-Niña’s Trial
On Friday, 15 March 2019, a story about a past child sex assault conviction surfaced about Houston drag queen Tatiana Mala-Niña. About Magazine and guest contributors dug into the details of the case to provide unreported information about the trial, the allegations, and an affidavit signed by the accuser asking for all charges to be dropped.
In the interest of maintaining journalistic integrity, I have made a conscious effort — along with contributors Jonny Lessard, Scott Lupton, and Wendy Taylor — to delve deeper into the happenings of the case recently brought back to light regarding Tatiana Mala-Nina, who was convicted of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child in 2009. The story was presented following the already controversial coverage of local Drag Queen Story Time, which took place at the Freed-Montrose Library once a month in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood. Reviewing the stories published by fellow online and print publications, as well as numerous television news stations, it felt necessary to provide more facts about the case than what had been laid out before. This is not an opinion piece. This is not a defense of either party involved in the trial. This article is designed simply to lay out the facts that have and have not been reported, as well as to pose questions that may have not yet been heard.
It is also important to note here that most news outlets have been using the pronouns he/him/his when referring to Mala-Nina. Tatiana Mala-Nina is a transgender woman and should be referred to using the she/her/hers pronouns. The only context in which we will be using her dead name (a name by which a trans person is called pre-transition) is when quoting documentation from the court file.
(HOUSTON) — Just over one week ago, in the early evening of Friday, 15 March, Houston news station KHOU published a story in which it was revealed that popular Houston drag queen Tatiana Mala-Nina (who had been reading to children at the popular Drag Queen Story Time event at the Freed-Montrose Library) was a convicted sex offender. Initial reports were relatively vague, with journalists using their very limited information to break a story around a subject that has been at the center of heated discussion over the past few months. Since Drag Queen Story Time first began in Houston — previously put together once a month by Trent Lira and Devin Will, until their recent resignation as directors of the program — it has been met with its share of acclaim, but has also been subjected to backlash and criticism. On the inside, local drag queens put on their made-up faces and don their most fantastical dresses while reading an age-appropriate book to the children who are there not only to learn a lesson in literacy, but in acceptance.
But outside of the library’s walls, matters aren’t quite as calm. Anti-LGBTQIA protesters would gather along the sidewalk thrusting signs quoting biblical verse, hate speech, and condemnation. One group in particular was hoping to do away with Drag Queen Story Time; and they go by the name of MassResistance, a conservative values group based out of Massachusetts that is known for taking a stand against LGBTQIA-positive issues in the name of “traditional values”. It was MassResistance that brought Tatiana Mala-Nina’s criminal history under the press light; and spreading this news was only just the beginning of a much larger fallout.
The offense in question is a matter of public record: Mala-Nina was registered as a sex offender after being convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a minor under the age of 14 in June of 2008. Further details revealed that the accuser was the child of a family friend, and that Mala-Nina had been sentenced to five years of probation and community service, which ended in June of 2016 without incident. Within hours of the article stating her sex offender status hitting the internet and the story playing across the five o’clock news, it seemed as though everything in Houston’s queer community had changed. Community members assumed sides, some calling Mala-Nina guilty and disavowing her, others swearing their allegiance and believing that she could not be capable of such an atrocity, and many reserving commentary until more evidence surfaced. Only, it seemed there wasn’t time for that; over the weekend ahead, the news would go on to get picked up by national news stations, and later would become international news. Conservative and liberal-leaning news outlets alike took the story and ran with it — many of the articles referring to Tatiana Mala-Nina by her deadname (and the wrong one, at that) and just as many misgendering her. You see, Tatiana Mala-Nina is more than just a drag queen; she is also a trans woman. While she may have identified as male at the time her conviction took place, her pronouns today remain to be she/her/hers. The fallout got worse, however. People all throughout Houston’s queer community — especially performers, drag and non-drag alike — grew fearful of what might happen at their forthcoming shows, and Tatiana Mala-Nina effectively lost every booking she had around the city.
By Sunday, just when the community thought the worst was over, it became quickly evident that it had only really just begun. As news continued to circulate around the globe, the ins-and-outs of the news report began to get messier. The largest example of this could be when fellow Houston drag icon, Blackberri, became a target after conservative news site Breitbart wrongly used her image rather than Mala-Nina’s when reporting on the story on 16 March. While Blackberri had also read at the library’s story time, her likeness to that of Mala-Nina is considerably small. More importantly, it put Blackberri in a position of danger, as well, once her face had been plastered against the headline, “Nolte: Houston Library Allowed Sex Offender to Read to Kids During Drag Queen Storytime”. Still, after the weekend had passed, many had taken note that Tatiana’s social media pages had been removed from the internet, and most outside of her nearest friends and family had not heard from her, until that Sunday afternoon, when Mala-Nina released the following statement through a friend’s social media:
“By now, many of you have seen the news that is circulating from KHOU. I would like to make a statement, and then am asking you all to respect my need for privacy at this time. I am safe, and with my family, but please don’t contact me for now, I will need some time…
Many years ago, I had a family friend. I had been babysitting her son for many years, and was considered a member of their own family. I made the difficult decision to come out as gay, and my life changed forever.
The boys mother was scared that gay = predator. She concocted a story, and went to the police. Her son attempted to tell the same story, but his changed many times during multiple interviews. There was no physical evidence or witnesses to what she claimed, but as a gay person of color, my side didn’t matter.
They did not have witnesses or evidence. They did not have a case, just a made up story. In the end, it didn’t matter. I plead not guilty. The jury did not all say I was guilty, but the judge defied the jury and chose to convict me.
Did you know that there are over 60 thousand people registered in Texas as sex offenders? Many of these people are in situations like mine. I wish that we could catch anyone who would ever hurt a child, and throw them in the deepest pit we could find. I would never. The catholic church has more sex offenders than any other organization. I would never do anything to hurt anyone, let alone one of our most innocent and vulnerable.
You all know me. I am sorry that this happened. I am sorry that I made a decision that could hurt people. I wasn’t thinking, because I’ve done all I can to put this horrible thing behind me. I am sorry that these horrible people are doing anything they can to attack us. But, I cannot be sorry for something I did not do. I have broken no laws, and although I regret the hurt this is causing, I wanted you all to know what really happened.” (sic).
That status update was shared 57 times from the original post and reached masses all across the queer community of Houston. Still, Mala-Nina was not being seen in a positive light by people in the community. Many questioned what made her accept the volunteer gig to read to children knowing she was a registered sex offender, regardless of whether or not she was innocent. Others stood up to say that, in cases of sexual assault, one should always believe the accuser. But for some, there was something about Mala-Nina’s story that set them to forge a path to find the truth, to look for something that hadn’t been seen that might exonerate Mala-Nina and prove her innocence. After all, this was an 11-year-old case that had been closed since Mala-Nina completed her probation terms in the summer of 2016; and finding details that could help prove her innocence was not going to be easy. That being said, it didn’t stop a few of Mala-Nina’s friends from Houston’s LGBTQIA community.
One of the most instrumental in this research was Jonny Lessard, who stated in an interview that he’s known Tatiana Mala-Nina for upward of seven years. Upon seeing the controversy spark and watching Mala-Nina lose everything, he stated that he felt like he had to do something. “I think there was this part of me — like I’m sure there was for everyone — that just didn’t want to believe it was someone I knew.” That feeling didn’t come singularly to Lessard. Across social media, friends and fans shared similar sentiments, some expressing doubt in the accusations, others hoped that they were not true, and some disappointment. Lessard and his boyfriend, Scott Lupton — a stage performer and former paralegal — had taken the time this past week after the news broke to travel down to Harris County Constable Precinct 6 to review the file related to Mala-Nina’s 2008 case. While unsure of exactly what they might find, both Lessard and Lupton took to the documents hoping something there might be indicative of Mala-Nina’s innocence. “We looked at those documents for about an hour and a half,” Lessard said in our interview. “If I’d had more time, I might have been able to get more information; but with limited time, we were just there looking for facts.”
Facts, believe it or not, are exactly what they found. Reviewing the documents — which included witness statements, court appeals, and more details about the case and are available to the general public — Lessard and Lupton found (again) that the claimant was a child under the age of 14 who had been the child of a family friend. The child alleged that he had requested access to Mala-Nina’s bedroom to play a video game, and that Mala-Nina had obliged under the condition that the child remove his clothing. The child then claimed that the Mala-Nina performed oral sex on the child for a few seconds before requesting that he do the same to her. The child alleges that he did so, but stopped after an additional few seconds, feeling uncomfortable, and left the room. According to trial documents, “The Complainant did not tell anyone what had transpired because the Appellant [Mala-Nina] told him not to, and because he was afraid of the Appellant. However, he did not remember telling the police that the Appellant had never told him not to say anything […]” (sic). Documents go on to say that the child, “[…] stated he was “pretty sure” that the above incident happened to more times when he was around the same age, the only difference being that he was not asked to touch the Appellant.”
The latter detail — regarding the two other instances — came up at an awkward time during the trial. Mala-Nina and counsel were not informed of this until just before the trial, and when the Defense requested time to review these claims. A separate document filed 7 December 2010 outlines an appeal requested by the Appellant and speaks more to this. “The outcry was made in February 2008. From then until trial, the complainant only revealed to police a single incident of assault. The complainant testified that he felt safe talking with the prosecutor though, and mentioned that appellant had also assaulted him on two other occasions. The complainant testified that these occasions occurred in the same place and at some time before the event described during the summer of 2006. The only apparent variation on these occasions was that the complainant was not asked to perform oral sex on appellant.” (NO. 14-09-00828-CR, pg. 3).
Moreover, another point to be considered is that Mala-Nina maintained and continues to maintain her innocence with no explicit admission of guilt to the allegations brought about by the accuser. However, in court documents entitled “Motion In Limine”, it would appear as though (although this is not confirmed) that the court attempted to use a sworn statement by the Defendant (Mala-Nina) of a separate occasion in order to imply guilt. In United States law, a Motion of Limine takes place when an attempt to exclude a testimony is made away from the jury. In the case of Mala-Nina, it would appear as though the testimony in question came from an interview in which Mala-Nina made a statement that reads as such in the Motion In Limine:
“[…] Defendant (currently 21 years of age) and Complainant (currently 10 years of age) were in a public pool when Complainant was younger, Defendant noticed that the Complainant (NOT THE DEFENDANT) had an erection while playing in the pool. As described by Defendant, it was the Complainant who inadvertently came into contact with the Defendant in the pool while Complainant had an erection.” (“Motion In Limine, 3). The court document goes on to state (in paraphrase) that the State of Texas tried to use this as an admission of touching the child inappropriately, but argues, “[…] which is a complete misrepresentation of what Defendant said.]” The same document (and on the same page) goes on to state another instance in which the Mala-Nina was present in the bathroom while the child was showering, but that nothing of any sexual nature took place and that this information was not an admission of guilt. It goes forth to say, “Most importantly, Complainant has affirmatively stated to the Children’s Protective Services interviewers (two separate interviews were recorded with Complainant), and has always stated, to the knowledge and belief of undersigned Counsel based on what has been provided to Counsel through discovery, that Defendant had not engaged in any other alleged sexual molestation.”
As per Mala-Nina’s official statement following the reemergence of this story on Friday last, Mala-Nina was a babysitter of the child in question. If the child was aged 6, 7, or 8 as alleged by said child at the time of these allegations, it may not seem unreasonable that either of the aforementioned incidents happened without sexual foundations, and calls into question why the State would elect to have this testimony be considered — especially so if it were to be used as an admission of guilt. Of all of these facts however, there is one document that raises more questions than all the others, which can be found in a document in the file examined by Lessard and Lupton.
The document is titled “AFFIDAVIT OF NON-PROSECUTION” and is dated to have been filed on 14 September 2009. In the document, which has been transcribed below (a photo of this document has also been included), the child who accused Mala-Nina of the alleged sexual assault claims that he would like all charges against the Defendant dropped and that no further prosecution take place. Unfortunately, in a case such as this where the State is now in opposition of the Defendant, the law does not require that the State drop charges at the request of the Plaintiff (the child). The document reads as transcribed:
“BEFORE ME, the undersigned authority, appeared [accuser’s name redacted] who being duly sworn, stated:
I am a witness in criminal Case Number No. 1169980 in the State of Texas vs. ALBERT ALFONZO GARZA [Mala-Nina], wherein the defendant is charged with the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 14.
It is my personal desire that the defendant not be further prosecuted for the offense and that the case presently pending against the defendant be dismissed. I do not wish to testify against the defendant as a witness, although I am aware that I can be compelled to do so if subpoenaed by the State.
I have not been compelled, threatened, or coerced to sign this affidavit in any manner. Nor have I been offered any bribe or improper inducement as a benefit or reward for signing this affidavit. My action in signing this affidavit is knowingly, voluntarily, and freely undertaken on my part.”
The above affidavit is not to be confused with a retraction of the original testimony of the Plaintiff. It does however, beg the question, “Why?” After the trial had gone on as long as it had, and before the jury had reached a decision on 18 September 2009, why would the child suddenly have a change of heart about the proceedings of the case? It may not be a blatant admission of Mala-Nina’s innocence, but certainly it is worth the consideration that the case — or rather, the handlings of the case — were not properly aligned with the events that took place.
Other details should be considered when reporting on this trial, as well. The first of which being that during an interview, Mala-Nina (who then identified as a gay man) was questioned about the nature of her sexual orientation, at which time she stated that she was a homosexual man. It is stated in page six of the Motion In Limine that, “The interviewer then elicited a great deal of details from the Defendant about the origins, history, and development of his sexual preference.” It was the belief of the Defense then (and remains to be so now) that after discovering Mala-Nina’s sexual identification, the State may have taken prejudice upon the Defendant and the case as a whole, which is why this issue is brought up in the Motion In Limine. The Defense — in order to leave no room for prejudices based on sexuality — wanted this testimony thrown out. In a case like Mala-Nina’s, which was presided over by Judge Mary Lou Keel — a registered Republican and member of the GOP — this Motion In Limine is especially important, as Republicans have a less than positive history with LGBTQIA issues and stand for “traditional family values”.
Another noteworthy piece of information goes back to the jury itself. While reviewing a document titled “General Orders of the Court” dated 18 September 2009, it is found that the jury was, “[…] deadlocked.” It further went on to state, “State requested an Allen Charge and the Defense objected. Court grants the State’s request.” In layman’s terms, an Allen Charge is an order set forth when a jury is deadlocked and cannot reach a verdict. The typical use of this is to have the minority of the jury reconsider their stance on the pending verdict as to prevent a hung jury. It is also worth noting that Allen Charges have been rejected and prohibited in twenty-two states across the U.S., Texas not being one of them (see the case of Early v. Packer, 537 US 3 that describes California’s rejection of Allen Charges). When the jury did return later, however, they had come to a unanimous decision that the Mala-Nina was guilty, although they suggested that a ten-year sentence be probated rather than served in prison. This final detail may be indicative that, although the decision finally became unanimous, there was still room for doubt as to whether or not Mala-Nina was truly guilty.
With all these facts in mind — albeit, possibly too many to absorb all at once — questions still loom as to the truth about what — if anything — happened between Mala-Nina and the accuser. While the Court found Mala-Nina guilty, she has since been meeting with an attorney to further evaluate her options and maintains her innocence in the case. We cannot predict what will come of these efforts, but we can state that the details outlined in the above article are a matter of public record and are able to be obtained and reviewed by any citizen and encourage anyone with more questions to do so. As it stands now (and as mentioned at the beginning of the article) former Drag Queen Story Time directors Trent Lira and Devin Will released a public statement in Houstonia Magazine where they announced that they would be stepping away from the program, and explained their decision to do so. This morning, the Houston Chronicle reported that in spite of this, the City of Houston had initiated plans to resume the program in the future, possibly as early as the summer of this year. The story of Tatiana Mala-Nina and of Drag Queen Story Time is ongoing. About Magazine will continue to provide all of the details as they come to light and unfold.
Both KHOU Channel 11 Houston and MassResistance were reached out to for comment. Neither responded to About Magazine’s outreach.
REVIEW: Drag at Bar Boheme
Twice a month, Montrose’s very own Bar Boheme hosts a monthly drag brunch, which spans from noon to 4 PM starring Chloe T. Crawford, Angelina DM Trailz, Chloe Knox, and Cyn City.
(HOUSTON) — It’s no secret that Houston is at no shortage of drag shows throughout the city. With most Montrose bars hosting multiple during the week, the city has a variety of shows to choose from spanning from comedy shows, gentle cabarets, and even competitions spanning the course of several weeks. But the integration of drag shows into predominantly straight bars is still rather rare, even if those straight bars are located directly in the heart of Montrose. But for Bar Boheme, that hasn’t been the case for quite some time. Bi-weekly on Sunday afternoons, the upscale bar and restaurant located at 307 Fairview — just a hop, skip, and a jump from most of Montrose’s most popular gay bars — offers a drag show to its diverse audience of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Directed by Chloe T. Crawford, the show features drag queens Angelina DM Trailz, Chloe Knox, and Cyn City.
The show began a few years back when the idea for a drag brunch came about that soon led to Chloe T. Crawford, London Adour, and Raja performing for the Boheme patrons. From that point on, as Crawford points out, the bar would simply pick up the phone and call her when they wanted to have special events that featured drag queens; and she would put together a cast. The cast has grown to include Angelina, both Chloes, and Cyn in the time that’s passed, with Ondi making appearances when one of the cast members is out. And although Bar Boheme isn’t targeted toward the queer community, the cast had nothing but kind things to say about the bar staff, owners, and what they’ve done to aid and expand the community. Crawford says herself, “It’s funny because Boheme isn’t your typical neighborhood bar … but it is a neighborhood bar. But most of the people who come here are from the Midtown-Montrose area. So it’s a catch-all of people from all around.”
These queens aren’t newbies to what they’re doing, either. Cyn City recently just retired her Treasure Island USofA Newcomer pageant crown and took up the Austin Newcomer crown. Additionally, Chloe Knox was the first alternate to Miss Gay Texas America in 2018 and Crawford was Miss Gay Harris County America that same year. Each queen appears in multiple shows throughout the city, with Angelina DM Trailz hosting Houston’s Best Drag Show at Guava Lamp on Saturdays as well as the monthly show, Angelina & Friends, at the same venue once a month on Sundays (a new installment coming tomorrow). In addition, Cyn City is the host of F-Rated Fridays at Hamburger Mary’s.
What’s most intriguing about the show at Boheme — not to mention what makes it stand apart from the other shows each queen performs in — is that the queens aren’t performing for the type of audience they’re used to performing for (jaunty queer folks who are excited to see a drag performance). They’re performing for a mixed bag of individuals of all gender identities, sexual orientations, and expectations. But one thing stands true amongst the audience: they’re all excited to see the queens come out and perform a four-set show (something not often done in a drag show) while also spending time with the audience afterward, serving up champagne, taking photos with patrons, and remembering that they’re doing something to bridge the sometimes growing gap between the straight/cis-community and the queer community.
Tomorrow, on St. Patrick’s Day, the queens will be joined by guest star Violet S’Arbleu for a special holiday edition of their show. Join them beginning at noon and going until 4 PM to see something a bit out of queer element, but worthwhile to support our community and (again) help bring together two communities that often can be segregated by our current political climate.
Trans About Town: Adriana LaRue
Adriana LaRue is a local celebrity in the drag community of Houston. A regularly-featured performer at Hamburger Mary’s and JR’s, winner of the thirteenth season of Dessie’s Drag Race, and current reigning Miss So You Think You Can Drag, she is a force to be reckoned with and has made a name for herself with her high energy performances, amazing dancing abilities, and a personality that can only be described as infectious. For the latest edition of our column Trans About Town, we sat down and talked to the queen herself.
Ian Townsley: How long have you been performing.
Adriana LaRue: September 9th was my three year anniversary — so three years and counting.
What has been your favorite performance thus far?
My second performance ever, which was at Meteor, when I did “Break Free” by Ariana Grande. That was the night I actually realized that this is what I wanted to do. Three years later, I’m still doing it and I’ve never looked back. Every time I perform that song, that same feeling I had that night is with me. In my finale performance for season 13 of Dessie’s Drag Race, I left my heart on that stage with the same song. It paid off, too, and I was chosen as the winner.
I don’t care for a label to be honest, because a label should not identify us. I’m simply an entertainer. But, in this community, people care so much about labels. They can classify me however they want!
Do you think being a trans female drag queen is easier/harder and why?
For myself in particular, I think it’s an in-between. I can get away with just looking pretty and not having to wear so much, such as pads and all those pantyhose, because my body is naturally curvy. In another way, it’s hard being that I am plus-sized. Lots of people have that mentality of, “Oh, she’s big so she can’t dance,” or “She can’t do anything but walk around and be boring.” I have to set the bar high for myself to exceed people’s expectations of what a big girl like myself can do!
What made you choose to be “out”?
The LGBTQ+ community, my friends, the encouragement I’ve received, and honestly self-love! A couple of years before I started performing, I actually wouldn’t tell people that I was trans because I was scared of not being accepted in the “straight world”. But coming into the community, it was a whole different situation. I would tell people that I was trans and they would be like, “Oh my god! I’m so happy for you! That’s amazing that you’re living out your truth and you’re being your true self!”
What advice would you have for new or up-and-coming trans female entertainers?
My advice to up-and-coming trans female entertainers is: Sister, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what these queens have been doing for years! You are just as equal as any of us! If no one is giving you an opportunity, make opportunities for yourself. Be heard! Be an active member of the community; spread love; be positive’ and don’t give words powers that they don’t have!
Follow Adriana LaRue:
To be featured or to nominate someone to be featured in a “Trans About Town” interview, please send a suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SATIRE: Feud Erupts Between Anthony Ramirez and Ondi
In a shocking turn of events, former acquaintances Sonny Michael Woodcock (Ondi) and Anthony Ramirez have found themselves feuding … but probably only for attention.
(HOUSTON) — About Magazine editor-in-chief and The Anthony Project creator and star, Anthony Ramirez, is no stranger to feuds. Earlier this year, the Less Than Butterflies author fired shots at Dallas’s New Country 96.3 KSCS afternoon host and assistant programming director-turned-‘daddy’, Al Farb. At the time, it was claimed that the former New 93Q Country morning show producer had seen Ramirez while guest judging Dessie’s Drag Race at Rich’s Houston and snubbed Ramirez without so much as a hello. The feud has recently seemed to have settled, having seen Ramirez giving Farb a kiss on the cheek in this recent photo from a taping of Ernie Manouse’s PBS program Arts Insight:
But Ramirez has a long history of feuds he’s maintained over the years, including one with critically-acclaimed author Anne Rice, who released her 2014 novel Lestat on the same day as Ramirez’s 2014 critically-ignored novel, Witches of the Deep South. His newest feud however, is with an entirely new type personality — Sonny Michael Woodcock, better known (if known at all) as drag queen Ondi. The queen — who previously performed in Michael’s Outpost now-defunct C.U.N.Tuesday show — now only makes performances occasionally, stating, “I am white.”
After a less-than-successful music career with a debut album from music producer Brice Cobb (Vitamin B), Ondi who often can be heard stating, “I’m an artist. That over there is trash,” was reportedly attending a late-night hoodrat party at the same time as Ramirez in a high-rise neither Woodcock nor Ramirez had any business attending because they are, in fact, both trash. At one point, it was reported that Woodcock left his phone unlocked on the kitchen counter, leaving Ramirez to his own devices (and one of Ondi’s). Moments later this status update appeared on Facebook:
More shots continued to be fired over the following weeks. Which can be seen here:
The LGBTQ community of Houston seems to be incredibly torn with this feud, some people even playing both sides. In fact, Ramirez’s former feud-mate, Al Farb, seemed to be in support of Ondi on social media, but released the following statement in defense of Ramirez exclusively to About Magazine:
“I’m sorry. I don’t have time for this feud. I’m busy starting my own feud with Pride Houston. But leave my son alone.”
Other community members have also chimed in, including drag legend and queen, Kara Dion, whom we caught up with before her show backstage at Rich’s. When asked about the feud, Dion simply turned around in her seat and stated the following:
When we asked Ramirez — our boss — for a comment on the feud, he released two statements. The first in the form of this GIF:
And the next in the form of this image:
Who is this and how did you get my phone nUmber? […] I’m also at Phobia every weekend for the rest of Cocktober.
You can catch Ondi performing at Boheme this Saturday and catch Anthony Ramirez talk about his new sitcom The Anthony Project on a special episode of Ernie Manouse’s Arts Insight airing Friday, November 2nd at 8:30 PM on PBS.
This is a developing story.
EVENT: Benefit for Drag Queen Vitamin B
After an on-stage accident left her with a broken tibia, drag queen Vitamin B (Brice Cobb) has spent her days in bed incapable of ambulating. To support her, Chloe T. Crawford is throwing a one-night-only benefit in her honor at JR’s tonight.
(HOUSTON) – While many know her by her stage name as Vitamin B, Brice Cobb hasn’t been getting into face much these days, let alone onto the stage. Since an accident at Magical Girl Day (a previously Sailor Moon-themed event that now caters to all magical girl characters and their fans) that resulted in Vitamin B falling onto her own tibia and snapping it in half, the drag queen who was making her mark on the Houston gay scene has been on bedrest for several weeks. Luckily for Brice, his doctor is confident that he will recover well, although also states that there will be long-lasting issues with the leg even after recovery. During an interview with Vitamin B on Wineding Down with Anthony, which will air later this week, Vitamin B told us that she will likely walk with a limp for the rest of her life and that many of the performance moves she’s been accustomed to for so long will be out of her reach. That being said, Vitamin isn’t giving up her seat at Houston’s drag table, and plans to make a stellar comeback at the beginning of 2019.
All that in mind, Vitamin B has suffered more than just physical trauma. The young performer was also set to begin substitute teaching this school year and earned a living doing drag. Vitamin B was getting booked left-and-right. She was featured in Wednesday’s rotating cast of Millenial Dolls at JR’s hosted by the incomparable Dessie Love-Blake, was featured in Barcode’s Celebri-Tease on Saturdays, was traveling to College Station’s Bar 12 to perform every Wednesday, and was featured once a month at Halo (also in College Station and owned by Rich’s proprietor Jeff Harmon). Saddest of all, Vitamin B was prepared to compete in Dessie Love-Blake’s Dessie’s Drag Race All Stars 3 at Rich’s and was willing to do whatever it took to win. But now that the teaching gig has been deferred and with no means of performing in her normal drag repertoire, Vitamin has been staying with family after not being able to afford to keep her apartment without work. With medical bills stacking up and other financial woes related to her accident now weighing down on her, Vitamin is seeking help in any form or fashion she can receive it until she’s back on her feet (quite literally).
Thankfully, Cobb has not given up on the drag community and leaving her mark wherever she can, even if doing so from her bed. As About Magazine reported previously, Vitamin B left social media screaming with her mock album covers she put together of prominent community members (samples featured below). If she hadn’t caught your eye before while performing, she certainly did with these albums, which boldly stated that she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The drag community doesn’t seem to think she will be either, which is why tonight at JR’s, one of Vitamin’s two drag mothers, Chloe T. Crawford, will be hosting an even for Vitamin B from 9-11PM called “B Stands for Benefit”. The show will feature performances from Crawford herself, as well as friends Tatiana Mala-Niña, Dessie Love-Blake, and more. The proceeds will be used to keep Cobb afloat against the tides of medical expenses and daily living until he’s able to get back into drag as Vitamin B and begin substitute teaching next semester.
When asked about what inspired her to throw this event for Cobb, Chloe T. Crawford said:
“My [drag] daughter’s passion is the art of female impersonation. It also happens to be her source of income. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. This job doesn’t have paid sick days. Vitamin is starting to become a person of interest on the drag scene, so I knew people would be willing to help her in her time of need.”
Vitamin had this to say about the community, Crawford, and her injury:
“Knowing that my Drag mother, Chloe T. Crawford, set up this benefit to help me and my mom is truly amazing. It’s nothing new for a drag family to stick together and be there for one another. I’m so thankful for not only my drag family, but for my drag community, that is willing to help a fellow queen. [It] makes me feel like it’s a real real family.”
JR’s is located at 808 Pacific St. in Montrose. Those who cannot make it can still make donations by following this Venmo link. You can RSVP to the Facebook event here. Check out some of Vitamin’s album covers here (starting with one I made for Vitamin myself, and followed by one she made for me at our Wineding Down interview).
Anthony’s Album for Vitamin:
Vitamin’s Album for Anthony:
A Few of Vitamin’s Others:
The Last Five Years: Neon Boots Celebrates an Anniversary
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.
(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.
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.
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!”
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.
Follow Neon Boots
Join Us at Neon Boots’ 5th Anniversary Party
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.
Tomorrow, 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.
So 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
Follow Neon Boots
Follow Paige Lewis
Vitamin B Releases Parody Albums of Drag Queens and LGBTQ Artists
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.
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:
Yes, 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”.
Blackberri: Bearded Beauty Herself
Highlights: “Angelo Where Are My Photos”, “I Host Everything”, and “U Don’t Book Me, I Book You”.
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”.
Violet S’Arbleu: I Am 31
Highlights: “Carbs (Gimme Gimme Gimme)”, “Hi Hi”, and “There’s My Mom … Drinking Her Wine”.
Estella Blow & Blackberri: Blowberri
Highlights: “101% African”, “We Were Drunk When We Crowned Iris”, “Did Angelo Send Your Photo?”, and “Skin 2 Skin”.
Tatiana Mala Niña: Looking for Roman
Highlights: This whole thing is magic. Let’s be honest.
Angelina DM Trailz: AHHHHHHHH
Highlights: “Guys Come to Guava”, “Don’t Forget Your Vitamins”, and “Ahhhhh”.
Carmina Vavra: Waluigi
Highlights: (Also basically perfect, but if we have to pick) “Wahhhhh!”, “Bring Me Cigs”, and “Crimson Chin”.
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”.
Regina Blake-DuBois: Current Reigning
Highlights: “Fair Regina” (feat. the Broad’s Way), “Dessie’s Gown”, and “Good Witch”.
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”.
One 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.