MC Alexis Nicole Whitney
Despite my years of being entrenched in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, I’ve never attended a drag show. But last night – even as I received flash flood alerts – a small group of us assembled at our friend Jaspal’s Montrose home, for a bachelor party that we organized for our close friend, Oskar, who will marry his long-time partner, René, in just two weeks.
After dinner, we grabbed our umbrellas and loaded into Jaspal’s car to drive toward TC, one of Montrose’s oldest GLBT bars where there’s a drag show every Saturday night.
Inside the dark club, René along with his mother, sister, nieces and friends assembled at tables directly in front of the stage. The table seemed cramped, so I perched at the nearby barstool.
A woman in a sparkly green dress walked onto the stage and sang karaoke to a song I didn’t know – not surprising, since I don’t listen to pop music. After she exited the stage, another woman, who served as MC, picked up the microphone.
“So the rain’s cleanin’ us up, isn’t it?” she commented. “All our dirty minds need scrubbin’, right?” She made a joke about body parts, one that I’ve already forgotten.
I took a deep breath, wondering how long I would need to listen to vulgar jokes before I could leave. But then I remembered the rain and our car-pooling system. At the urging of René, I joined everyone at the table.
As I listened, I learned that the MC, Alexis Nicole Whitney, was blind, but she navigated the stage and the mic with perfect ease. After her song ended, another older black woman shifted up to the mic to sing, and Alexis commented on how the performer needed extra love because she had experienced partial paralysis.
In between the performers, Alexis shared stories, talked to us, even directly asked me how I was enjoying the show. Without being able to see my face, she could tell I was at TC’s for the first time.
The longer I sat and listened, offered money to a singer and in return received a kiss and a smile, the more I wanted to learn about the performers and their lives.
Our group was the last to leave. By the time we stepped out, the rain had ended. I drove away from my friend’s house knowing that the performance is one that I will remember and will return to experience – not for the singing or the dramatic visuals, but for the stories.
Note: Alexis’ statement on the JC website reads:
I was born on May 7, 1976 in San Antonio. Although born in San Antonio, I now live and reside in Houston and call Houston home. I have been pursuing the art of female impersonation for 19 years. I have been visually impaired for 15 years and visually impaired meaning completely blind. During my career I have captured many city, state, local and national titles, some including Miss Unlimited, Miss TX Unlimited, Miss Tx EOY, Miss Oklahoma USofA, Miss Gulf Coast USofA at Large, Miss Dallas USofA, Miss Energy USofA, Miss Austin USofA, just to name a few. I am the Show Director here at TCs where I have been employeed 3 years. I work 5 nights a week and you can catch me as your hostess and emcee every weekend. I love to help individuals learn and grow and anyway I can help you please let me know. I look forward to hearing you here at TCs.