One of the charms of Columbia is watching trends from larger towns trickle into our little city. “How long will it take before we see that in Columbia?” you may think about some crazy event in the free-wheeling Pacific Northwest or in Austin, Texas.
And so it goes with drag-and-a-meal shows, which are sashaying downtown with a side of big hair, bawdy humor and sequins — there’s always sequins.
The pairing of drag entertainment, generally associated with the cover of night and a few well-placed spotlights, with earlier meals has been a staple in big cities like New York and Washington, D.C., for years. And now two such have arrived in Columbia in short order.
The first of Columbia’s new drag brunch options is at Scott Hall’s Bone-In Barbeque. Started just this summer, the event turns the barbecue restaurant into an over-the-top drag show venue where you can take in the show over a plate of Fruity Pebbles pancakes or one of the many other brunch offerings. Held on the last Sunday of each month, the restaurant has tweaked its service each time to accommodate larger than anticipated crowds.
“The reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive,” Hall says.
Bone-In now does ticketed seating times to control the flow of the crowd and to make the experience more enjoyable. The greater organization also allows the staff to create increasingly crazy themes. Hall says the next drag event in September will kick off Bone-In’s Halloween season.
The staff works to theme the food offerings specifically for each drag brunch. Some potential future offerings to look out for include the highly curious Froot Loop glitter muffins and other big, showy pastries and crazy cocktails.
“We want to personify the over-the-top nature of drag through food,” Hall offers.
Bone-In’s events aren’t the town’s first foray into drag brunches. Matt Butler, executive director of the Harriet Hancock Center, which provides community, advocacy and resources for the LGBT community in South Carolina, reminds Free Times that there was a series of such happenings at the former Mamas and the Tapas restaurant in the Vista, located where Pot Smoker BBQ is now.
“The popularity of drag shows now is probably a confluence of things to create this cultural moment,” Butler reasons, pointing to RuPaul’s Drag Race as providing context in the popular culture at large.
The second restaurant embracing drag is The War Mouth, which will host its Wampus Rompus on Sunday, Sept. 1. The early evening show begins at 7 p.m. Drag queens will entertain onlookers at the Cottontown establishment as they sip unique cocktails and other bar offerings. This is the second installment of the show, the first of which occurred in the spring.
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“There aren’t many kooky fun events going on, so we didn’t have to dangle much in front of people,” says War Mouth manager Courtney Phillips. “The first one was a lot of fun, and we weren’t expecting much but we were turning people away at the door.”
Phillips says the restaurant plans to continue holding drag shows a few times a year as special events.
Hall thinks that the slow rise of drag events in non-typical venues is a sign that the city is becoming more urban and open-minded.
“Sometimes I forget that this part of the world is so conservative, and I haven’t gotten much hate off of this at all,” Hall says, noting that these events have been the most lucrative days the restaurant has seen since opening last year.
Both Bone-In and The War Mouth donate proceeds from their events to the Harriet Hancock Center.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for neighbors to come out of their shells,” Butler enthuses. “I’ve seen people from the LGBT community, allies and people I’ve never seen before at these events.”
Bone-In Barbeque is located at 2180 Boyce St. The War Mouth is at 1209 Franklin St.. Got food or drink news? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.