The Many Queens of Brooklyn Drag

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Published October 30, 2021
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The Montclarion
Rify Royalty, a Muslim drag queen, performs her second number of the night. Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

A forest-bed of dollar bills, almost camp wardrobes, electrifying lighting, plastic skeletons in erotic positions suspended from the ceiling, surrounded by fairy lights to create a very Williamsburg version of a Renaissance painting.

With some luck, this is how one will know they have found themselves at “Trish,” a biweekly drag show held at 3 Dollar Bill, an East Williamsburg oasis that has been a respected watering hole for the queer community since June 2018.

Co-hosted by drag queens Rify Royalty and Charlene, “Trish” has found itself as a mise-en-scène of Brooklyn drag, a subculture that has been constructed to be one of the most expressive forms of drag in New York City.

Charlene, a host of “Trish,” performs her number in a sultry and smokey manner, evoking the feel of a jazz club. Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

Charlene, a host of “Trish,” performs her number in a sultry and smokey manner, evoking the feel of a jazz club.
Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

This is in contrast with the other borough-specific drag scene, Manhattan drag, which is generally seen as more traditional and commercialized. Mo’Riah, a 26-year-old drag performer who made their debut “Trish” performance just last week, explains the difference between the two.

“Brooklyn queens are more artsy and very different,” Mo’Riah said. “Brooklyn has more artistic girls than the Manhattan [drag queens]; very creative.”

Mo'Riah, characterized by their energetic and fiery performances, showcases their first number of the night. Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

Mo’Riah, characterized by their energetic and fiery performances, showcases their first number of the night.
Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

With these distinctions in mind, the individuality of “Trish” speaks volumes to the innovation and grandeur these Brooklyn drag performers scream to the world; they are more artists than performers, and should absolutely be respected that way.

The latest installment of “Trish,” a Halloween special, featured some of Brooklyn’s most incomparably original performers: Ginger Von Snap, Blair B**ch, Mo’Riah and co-hosts Rify Royalty and Charlene. Headlining the night was Utica, a drag queen featured on season 13 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Former “RuPaul&squot;s Drag Race" contestant, Utica, performs her headlining number at “Trish.” Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

Former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant, Utica, performs her headlining number at “Trish.”
Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

“Trish” serves as a special haven for both newcomers and seasoned drag performers alike.

One of these “Trish” first-timers is Blair B**ch, who has been performing drag for the last four years.

“I started performing and playing dress-up at a young age, so it was inevitable I’d become a drag queen,” Blair B**ch said. “Drag is my artistic and performance outlet … it’s the ultimate culmination of all my creative skills and interests.”

Blair B**ch shows her tip money. Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

Blair B**ch shows her tip money.
Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

This passion, however, was equally recognized amongst all the drag queens. There seemed to be a certain hunger for a sort of gilded artisanship, one that can be comparable to any other art form that is highly regarded in our society.

Nonetheless, this hunger for individuality that seems to be so distinct to Brooklyn drag tore out the honesty in each performer, shoving away the omnipresent notions of how drag queens traditionally present themselves.

Ginger Von Snap carefully holds her phone, showing off her claws. Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

Ginger Von Snap carefully holds her phone, showing off her claws.
Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

With Ginger Von Snap’s ghoulish presentation, Blair B**ch’s emotional numbers, Mo’Riah’s fiery persona, Rify Royalty’s eccentric and powerful costumes, Charlene’s risqué stage presence and Utica’s pleasantly off-kilter acts, each performer is expanding beyond how mainstream audiences view drag.

Alongside a more artistic brand to “Trish,” it is understandable why an almost-sold-out crowd made their way to 3 Dollar Bill on a Tuesday night. Considering the witty chit-chat between the hosts, a boiler room set-turned-drag-show ambiance and cheap beer, it would be questionable on one’s character why they would not want to attend such an occasion.

The sparkly boots of Utica while she greets fans. Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

The sparkly boots of Utica while she greets fans.
Photo courtesy of Julian Rigg

Upon making a leisurely exit of the venue, one may be at a loss for words at what they just experienced. Was it a melatonin-induced dream? Was it the collapse of our objective reality?

Simply put, it was just another Tuesday at “Trish” and a most likely delightful experience of the tightknit community known as Brooklyn drag, which can be summed up in the parting words of Blair B**ch:

“The Brooklyn drag community is beautiful, bonkers and a melting pot of drag,” Blair B**ch said. “You can find it all if you [only] look for it.”

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