You might think “Sinful Sunday” is just a cutesy way to match a day of the week with an accompanying adjective, a la Thirsty Thursday, Frisky Friday, etc. But no. Thing is, Sunday night at Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar is a different kind of church. Or for that matter, you’re welcome to come hear The Goddess Isis preach from her pulpit 12 hours after dragging your hangover-havin’ self to service with Mom and Dad and listen to a preacher cut from an entirely different cloth.
Isis has only been in Philadelphia for about three years, after a long and edifying stint in the South. But that’s been more than enough time for her to get up and running with her own headlining weekly gig, which recently hit its two-year anniversary and is going stronger than ever. She’s more of a Carrie Underwood fan than a Rihanna queen. The first time she was in women’s clothes was when her parents dressed her up as Dolly Parton at the tender age of four. She doesn’t even remember it, but there are plenty of photos. The boobs, the wig, the dress, everything. You can’t be Dolly Parton without huge fake tits, can you?
As a youth, Isis grew up in the church. She loved the music, the pageantry, the fainting and outpouring emotion from folks moved by the spirit, whatever that may be. She loved it so much that she went and got herself an A.A. degree in Bible Theology. For real. At Lee University in Tennessee. Turns out Lee has an outstanding music program, so she traveled up and down North America with a gospel singing group. One of those rare drag queens who does more than put on a wig and a dress and give face like there’s no tomorrow, Isis can also sing. Musicality and performance is at the forefront of her drag. It’s what makes her one of, if not the, most successful and electrifying performers in the city.
Isis has come a long way since her first cognizant drag performance, at the age of 16, when she was pulled on stage in D.C. and forced to wear styrofoam falsies that kept falling down to her stomach. The song was “Make It Happen” by Mariah Carey. She can still turn out a mean Mariah, but she also dabbles in all kinds of divas, from Erykah Badu to Whitney Houston, and when Isis performs drag, she does it all the way. She knows every word, and you can tell. And every Sunday, she and her rotating cast of friends and queens give you show for days for a mere $5. And the great thing about Tabu’s upstairs lounge? It’s like you’re in her living room. A Sunday service in a drag queen’s living room. And she likes it that way.
She’s also heavily involved in Mimi Imfurst’s Dollhouse Revue at Voyeur on Wednesday nights and has been for years now, too, but that’s a whole different kind of drag night. The stage is high and narrow. The price of admission doesn’t buy you a drink. There’s four or five times as many people in the audience. On Sunday nights at Tabu, you might just get called up on stage and commanded to take your shirt off. (Especially if you’re straight, and it looks like you’re easy to fuck with.) As for the bang you get with your buck, there’s no better regular, steady night of wig-wearin’, heel-stompin’, lip-syncin’, face-givin’, arm-swingin’ entertainment in the Gayborhood.
Sunday nights. Doors at 9:15pm, showtime at approximately 11pm. $5. Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, 200 S. 12th St. tabuphilly.com
The Barrymore Awards aren’t ballyhoo