Flavors of the Rainbow drag brunch

Embrace the Fabulous: Exploring the Rise of Drag Brunches

By: Mikayla Dates 

The experience of being Black in America finds an added element of intersectionality when an individual also identifies as LGBTQ+. The challenges and obstacles these folks face go beyond the everyday Black experience, often facing hurdles within the Black community itself. During Pride Month, it’s important to keep in mind the important contributions that gay Black Americans like James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry have made, along with those who made their marks and continue to work within the culinary industry. The same sort of intersectionality of culture which conjures up creole-soul dishes can be found when elements like drag performances converge with master chefs creating delicious dishes.

While much is known about how Black culture contributed to many of the greatest American cooking traditions, it’s harder to identify LGBTQ+ Black folks who added their own spice to that particular melting pot. Gay Black chef and culinary scholar Michael Twitty seeks to uncover the hidden impact of his predecessors who could not be their authentic selves. Drag queens also follow in this spirit, tearing down walls while engaging in some of the most entertaining forms of self-expression. It’s that same ethos that drives Caribbean Chef Gregory Gourdet, whose own cookbook stresses how that same inclusivity makes for a stronger restaurant kitchen.

Understanding the Black LGBTQ+ experience in America is about respect. Accepting diversity and celebrating everyone’s freedom to be who they are is perfectly embodied in drag culture — and it needs to go beyond. We can all be part of the solution by doing something as simple as listening to what pronouns folks want to be called, whether it’s she/he, they/them, ze/hir, or xe/xem. This makes people in the LGBTQ+ feel welcomed and safe. Acknowledging diversity has always been key within the Black community, so it’s only natural to extend that into every corner. During Pride Month, Black Restaurant Week is proud to shine a light on the intersectionality of drag and the culinary world.

Flavors of the Rainbow drag brunch2
Featured left to right: Blackberri, William Dorsey Swann, Priscilla Es Yuicy

Drag History: William Dorsey Swann

An amazing history only uncovered in the last few years reveals that America’s first ever drag queen was not only an African American but also a former slave. William Dorsey Swann was born in 1860 into slavery in Maryland. After the Civil War, his family was able to start a farm. But as a gay man, Swann wanted more. For years he would hold secret drag balls — being the first person recorded to use both the term “drag” and the self-given title of “queen.” Arrested multiple times in the late 1880s after Washington D.C. police raided his home, Swann turned to activism, becoming the first champion for gay rights in the nation. 

Determined to provide a space safe for his community, Swann made drag a family venture, with his own brothers attending balls dressed as women —his little brother even provided costumes for the drag community after Swann retired. Thanks to his creation, phrases like “strike a pose” and “sashay across the floor” were well in use by the late 1890s and early 1900s — almost a century before RuPaul hit the scene!

Drag Queen Insights

So what does it really mean to be a drag queen, anyway? Beyond the entertainment aspect, amazing costumes, and an outrageous sense of humor, it’s an expression of individualism cranked up to 10.

Houston drag queen Blackberri — the Bearded Beauty of Texas — does everything from nightly local shows to working for Lizzo’s YITTY fashion line. “Drag, to me, is a form of artistic expression,” she explained. “Showcasing my ideas in different ways through costuming, performance, makeup, is a way to express yourself and your persona.” Professional dancer and Minneapolis fixture Priscilla Es Yuicy is another drag professional who puts it this way: “Drag, to me, means freedom of expression. It has allowed me to find myself while being able to continue to use my craft and training.”

These attitudes embrace everything from the underground drag balls of the 1960s to the Stonewall Uprising in New York City, which pushed back on the criminalization of gay culture to “Drag Race,” mainstreaming this exciting culture. Drag is more than just fun. It’s a wonderful way to create a safe place for marginalized folks of all backgrounds — be they LGBTQ+ or people of color. And take special note of the multi-layered aspects of the performances. Linguistic play turns gender and identity roles topsy turvy. Intricate costumes can evoke anything from a Las Vegas showgirl to a Midwestern housewife to an anime character and anything under the sun. Dance moves and even the sway of a performer’s walk can emote everything from absurdity to sadness. And then there’s the sheer artistry — professional choreography, sublime costume design, mystical makeup regimes, and side-splitting comedy. These queens are giving their all to be everything they’ve ever wanted to be. And it’s just so damn joyful and liberating!

Flavors of the Rainbow drag brunch3

Brunch, But Make It Drag

What could make an awesome brunch even more awesome? How about a little drag show with your bottomless mimosas? Drag brunches have been popping up all over the United States, making for a perfect fusion of culinary goodness and uncompromising artistry. Imagine delicious eats and strong booze with an exhilarating and vibrant drag show! Performers typically sing, dance, and make some very naughty jokes, livening up your gastronomic experience with glam, guts, and stunning routines.

Performers typically live off tips, so be sure to bring plenty of dollar bills (at least 20 of them) — $5s, $10s, and $20s are even better if you can swing it. Show up in your own costume if you’re looking to strut your stuff or just enjoy it as whoever you authentically are. It’s something everybody should do at least once! Drag brunches are a wonderful way to engage with a diverse community you may not have even known exists right in your own hometown.

Top 8 Black Drag Queens To Visit for Brunch

If you’re ready to either express your own pride or just come out in support of the Black LGBTQ+ community, hitting up drag brunches is a great way to go. Not sure about where the best of the best are? Don’t worry, we got you! Here are eight of the top Black drag queens to visit for brunch!

1. Angie Ovahness Pryce

Palm Beach, FL | Instagram 

Known locally as “The Queen of Headstands,” this incredible gymnastics performer will make you wonder if your Sunday morning punch is a little too strong! Loaded with athletic energy, Angie has brunch crowds raving at South Florida favorites Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar and R House.

2. Shea Coulee

Touring nationwide.  | Instagram 

If you don’t know the fabulous Shea Coulee by now, then you don’t know your drag royalty! This RuPaul’s Drag Race alum is one of the hottest performers in the world and is in high demand across America. Keep an eye out on her website to see if she’ll be brunching in an eatery near you soon!

3. Coco Bardot

Denver, CO  | Instagram 

Look out Colorado, because drag brunch is about to take y’all to new heights! Coco Bardot loves to dress sexy whether she’s hosting comedy bingo at a local craft brewery or delivering her best material to your brunch table. Check out which Sunday to find her at the Triangle Bar.

4. CoCo Montrese

Las Vegas, NV  | Instagram 

Another RuPaul’s Drag Race all-star you cannot help but have heard of! This former Miss Gay America winner is a consummate Vegas drag performer, so expect any time spent with her to pump up some extra glitz and glam. Hit up the Señor Frog’s website to see when she does her brunch thang!

5. Tamisha Iman

Las Vegas, NV  | Instagram 

Another Sin City mainstay by way of RuPaul’s groundbreaking TV show, this “drag veteran” has helped “mother” the career of dozens upon dozens of performers. Boasting the best drag in Vegas, Tamisha is in residence at The Garden’s Bottomless Brunch so be sure to show up hungry for food and laughs!

6. Amber Crane

Los Angeles, CA  | Instagram 

Hot and heavy on the Hollywood drag circuit, the fabulous Amber Crane is well known for doing everything from drag storybook hours to some crazy disco bingo! But if you need some jokes and dancing with your Sunday Bloody Mary, then head over to Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood, where you’ll find Amber’s show along with delicious food, and yummy cocktails.

7. Dotte Com

Atlanta, GA  | Instagram 

Can we get a holla, Atlanta? How about some hilarity? Dotte Com is one of the ATL’s favorite hometown queens and a longtime champion of the Black LGBTQ+ community. Having honed her performance to near perfection, check out her drag brunch appearances at places like Brewdog and City Winery.

8. Marilyn Monhoe

New York City, NY | Instagram 

Yes, this Black drag queen is in the guise of the original blonde bombshell herself! Emulating the classic movie star is only the start of this lady’s pull-no-stops performances. If you’re in the Big Apple, you won’t want to miss a chance to experience her drive-in drag brunch at the Bel Aire Diner.

Breaking Barriers

As Black Restaurant Week honors Pride Month, it’s important to keep in mind that many of the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community are very much the same as the challenges African Americans have always faced. Standing up for their rights, fighting to be seen as their authentic selves. Marching for their freedom, even as an oppressive response from the authorities, left many battered and jailed. Their cries for liberty echo our own, and their ability to rise in the face of adversity is as inspiring as anyone else’s.

Blackberri summed it up perfectly, “The black community and the queer community are both marginalized communities who have both been through their perspective struggles and can benefit from empathizing with each other rather than trying to tear each other down.”


Black Restaurant Week
Author: Black Restaurant Week

About Black Restaurant Week – Black Restaurant Week LLC is an annual, multi-city culinary movement celebrating the flavors of African, African-American and Caribbean cuisine nationwide. Black Restaurant Week partners with black-owned restaurants, chefs, caterers and food trucks to host a selection of culinary experiences aimed to expand awareness and increase support for black culinary professionals. The organization was founded in 2016 by entrepreneurs Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell and Derek Robinson. Connect with Black Restaurant Week on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

1 Comment
  • Taylor B
    Posted at 10:56h, 06 July Reply

    Thank you so much for bringing attention to a historical theatrical artform and a new culinary experience!

Post A Comment