The Pride Issue
Drag's New Dawn in SA
Published: June 26, 2013
And Rodriguez dictates the format that goes on their al fresco stage.
“We are very involved. We just have an image that we want as far as the way our girls look...act and perform...” he explains.
“There are times that we tell them, ‘you’re not doing that number. You need to think of something else because it’s something similar to what they did two days ago,’” he says. “Or we won’t let them use a costume unless a certain amount of weeks have gone by.... We want them to constantly be progressive and changing it up.”
But isn’t that expensive? I ask.
“They get paid very well,” he says confidently. “That’s the one thing I like about this bar. They pay the girls what they’re worth. They start off at a base rate, then, when they progress up the ladder through the pageant systems... When you win your city prelim and your state prelim, your rate goes up.”
And the Pegasusian showgirls are watched down to their behavior at the bars.
“If we find out that they got sloppy drunk at one bar... We don’t like that. There’s an image we want to give about our showgirls. Too often when people think about crossdressing or transvestites and drag queens they think of prostitutes...and drugs and stuff. We try to keep it professional so that people know this is a different caliber of girl. They are entertainers,” Rodriguez says.
• • •
Back at the Saint, promoter Rey Lopez of Rey Lopez Entertainment has found notable success in his Thursday night production, which runs 90 minutes or more without an intermission.
“The owner of the Saint (Ruiz de Velasco), he made drag important,” says Lopez who brings a weekly parade of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants to town. “I was told that I was the next him...by doing everything that I’m doing.”
Lopez says his only form of marketing is Facebook. “I just started using Twitter like a month ago,” he says when asked how he packs the club.
He has an emcee, Tencha, and three first cast showgirls who are known as the RLE Girls.
Tencha opens the Thursday night show, dressed to the nines and lip-synching “Fuck Me,” a parody of torch standard “Get Here” by Oleta Adams. Swirling, colorful lights above highlight her amazingly intricate eye makeup. The semi-circle of mirrors behind her look like they were nicked from the non-equity tour of A Chorus Line. The headliner tonight is the mesmerizing Jade Jolie who breathlessly grabs the mic after her second number and wishes everyone a wonderful sexual experience before the night is through – but not with her because she’s married.
Last year, Lopez flew in a dozen RuPaul girls for his birthday bash in the ballroom of the Bonham Exchange, which had 1,200 fans in attendance, inadvertently setting a record. “I was the first person in the U.S. to have that many [RuPaul] girls come to a show. There hasn’t been a club or a person that has been able to get that many girls in one room. People flew in from Hong Kong, New Mexico...all over,” he says. “I was very proud of that.”