So goes the cathartic exchange running between Isis Brooks D’Shey, the Divine Drag Mother who hosts Sinful Sundays upstairs at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, and her mostly queer audience of about 20 as the night slides into Valentine’s Day.
Last Sunday marked the third weekly run of the up-and-coming show, set in the new Gayborhood venue’s intimate bar and lounge area. Admission is only $5, and comes with a free drink ticket, plus Happy Hour prices ... until midnight.
Tonight’s theme: Love and Anti Love, complete with dramatic lipsyncing and a shot at winning free alcohol for the heartbroken, the eternally committed and anyone dying for an emema of the soul.
“Participate in your recovery, or else you’re gonna get nowhere, honey,” the goddess drawls in her native Tennessee accent from the front of the room, like the “good Southern Christian girl” she claims to be. She’s corseted and draped in layers of black, a fleshy cross branded into her chest (yes, branded—Isis heated a crucifix on a skillet and pressed it between her breasts, producing a scar she plans to tattoo around at a later date), and sipping a shot of Jack Daniels.
Ranging from the awesomely passionate to the wildly campy, Isis and her hand-selected team—local queens Omyra Lynn, Diana Dharling and special guest Mrs. P—inject the best facsimile of real life into stories of women being walked out on or vindicated this side of a Women’s Studies department.
In a superb solo number, Isis, the would-be preacher who got her B.A. in Seminary Theology, gyrates in a nun’s habit and padded baby bump, which she alternately rubs and thrusts to the undulations of Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach.”
The coquettish Dharling, “Philadelphia’s Broadway Sweetheart,” sprinkles “cocaine” on her arm to the tune of Avenue Q’s “There’s a Fine, Fine Line,” before dumping the contents of the baggie on her head. But Northeast-born black temptress Omyra Lynn, the youngest and most girlish of the foursome, channels her deepest pain as she pleadingly motions the explosion of her heart toward the crowd along to the heartbreak of Danity Kane’s pop anthem “Damaged.”
This display of unbridled passion comes at the right time, although for a more serious reason. According to bartender Patrick DeMarco, drag mecca Q Lounge (formerly Bump) is scheduled to shut its doors, and Philly’s tight-knit drag scene is preparing to take a powerful hit.
But as one venue dies, many more begin to crop up in unexpected places. Drag is having a revival in the City of Otherly Love, says longtime fixture on the scene, Solatta Tee. “Old is new again. There’s a new, better drag developing. It’s no longer ‘I’m the shit;’ it’s more rehearsed. [They’re] performing for the people, not for themselves.”
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