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Whipped Cream and Other Delights: Drag Show Brunches

By Chris Lillja,

originally published: 05/04/2023

Whipped Cream and Other Delights: Drag Show Brunches

Drag is an incredible pastiche of creative self-expression, fantastic outfits, LBTGQ+ identity, and the power of attitude. It celebrates self-acceptance, acceptance of others and carefree enjoyment of living. The shows are an eclectic mix of cabaret, burlesque and comedy.

Brunch needs no introduction. Breakfast foods at mid-day? Maybe an adult beverage mixed in? What’s not to love? Combine brunch and a drag show, and you get an unforgettable event that can satisfy in many ways. A quick search will show that drag brunches are having more than “a moment” right now. Here are two that may deliver on those many levels.

Astala Vista and friends invite you to “celebrate the most important Queen in your life, Mom!,” as reads their promo, with their Mother’s Day Disney Drag Brunch May 14 at the Collingswood Grand Ballroom & Scottish Rite Auditorium. Step into a world of magic, glamour and fierce performances with this extraordinary celebration of Mother's Day. This Disney-themed drag show brunch will combine the enchantment of Disney with the artistry and exuberance of drag performances. The show is billed as “All Ages,” but the content/language will be PG-13.

Whipped Cream and Other Delights: Drag Show Brunches

Astala Vista performing at the Collingswood Grand Ballroom. (Photo by Paula Lara. Courtesy of Collingswood Grand Ballroom & Scottish Rite Theater).

“The group we work with has a great, regular following and that helps make a great atmosphere,” says Paula Lara, Director of the Collingswood Grand Ballroom & Scottish Rite Auditorium. “It’s a mixture of newcomers and enthusiastic fans — people dress up, some in character. This is our third year for the Mother’s Day Brunch, and we usually sell out both seatings. It’s a great success from our viewpoint and a tribute to the performer's excellence.

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“There’s something really special about the event. You can take mom out to brunch, to a restaurant and it’s nice, but this - this is really fun. It’s very special and different. Our space is beautiful and that adds to the magic,” says Lara.

Lady Celestina and friends invite you to Drag Brunch at the Vogel, part of the Count Basie Center for the Arts, June 10, billed as an “over-the-top, midday mashup of breakfast, lunch, and the most fabulous array of killer Queens we could convince to be awake at such an early hour.” The performers “will entertain you and your friends as you dine on delicious brunch fare, with add-ons including bottomless mimosas, champagne box seats and more,” reads the event listing.

“Drag is a very special and unique art form,” says Lady Celestina. “It allows tremendous freedom of self-expression. We allow ourselves, and others, to step into our fantasy filled with glitter, glamour and good times. What makes an exceptional performance is a few things: your ability to tell a story, your ability to command the stage and the audience and your ability to adapt quickly. Drag is an art form where there is no fourth wall and so there’s tons of thinking on your feet and making sure you’re entertaining the audience.”

Whipped Cream and Other Delights: Drag Show Brunches

“Why brunch? We wanted to do something different” says Adriana Gomez of the Basie Center. “Drag performers often have night-time cabaret-style shows. This format helps them find new audiences; it’s convenient for that audience. Our last drag brunch was a huge success so we decided to do it again. Lady Celestina did our last brunch. Everyone had such a great time, so we brought her back.”

The event will feature a classic brunch menu with contemporary touches like an oatmeal bar (gluten and dairy-free), vegan grilled veggie and hummus wraps (some in gluten-free wraps), vegetarian pastas, a chafing dish of “brunchy sweet things” (PBJ French toast, baked French toast, Belgian waffles), as well as the classics like an omelet station and assortment of breakfast meats — pork roll, bacon, sausage. Champagne and mimosas are available (1st mimosa included with the meal, “bottomless” mimosas available).

“Our first time (hosting a drag brunch) was a lot of people’s first time at a drag show,” says Gomez. “The space is really nice - it’s a perfect place to hold a brunch. There’s a real sense of community. It’s intimate - it’s easy to enjoy a fantastic show in a beautiful space like that. The comfort and familiarity of a brunch set the scene for people to let themselves go a little bit. As the show unfolded, everyone became a little more relaxed and people really started to enjoy themselves. There are lots of laughs, the performance is great, people get comfortable and people really start to enjoy the show. It’s a fun time.

Gomez continues: “We are starting to see more representation in our audiences, and we are very excited to be a part of that. The response we got from the community was just amazing! We want to continue that, we want to keep it going. It’s relaxed, it’s fun, it’s awesome. When that word gets out the people start coming in.”

About the author: I have devoted my career to education, art and photography. The love of art, compassion, and the expression of human dignity drives my work. I am a mechanic, reader, maker, and sometimes baker in my spare time. My formative years were spent on the farms of Ringoes and working in the family machine shop on Pennsylvania Avenue in Trenton. I left the area for a few years to get a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in theater. When I returned to New Jersey, I found it had become a wildly diverse cultural and culinary wonderland, just minutes from Philly and New York City. I dig these roots; things are just getting really interesting.

Content provided by Discover Jersey Arts, a project of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.



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