A new month typically means a fresh round of weekly “Champaign Drag Brunches” at Dallas gay bar Mr. Misster, but demand for November’s first show was lacking, prompting the venue to scratch the performances and cancel the event.
Last year, Mr. Misster was put in the spotlight for hosting an all-ages drag show with multiple children in attendance. When protesters began targeting the venue for allowing underage individuals to attend, the bar backtracked and began enforcing a 21-and-up policy.
The Dallas Express has attended a number of drag brunches at Mr. Misster following the backlash, and while no underage children have been seen since the bar’s policy change, the number of paying customers has seemingly dropped off.
San Antonio resident Vanessa Trevino was in Dallas visiting family for the weekend. She spoke with The Dallas Express outside the venue on Saturday around the time the drag brunch was supposed to be underway. She said her past experiences at drag shows have “generally been pleasant.”
“I have only ever been to shows in San Antonio and Austin, but as far as I remember, I’ve always left drag shows feeling great,” she told The Dallas Express. “Drag brunches are certainly more toned down than the late-night shows, but [they’re] still fun.”
When asked if underage individuals should be allowed to attend such performances, Trevino said no, adding that she did not think it was her place to decide.
“So, hear me out. I get that kids shouldn’t be there — I totally do — but for the adults who can legally be here, well, then, these shows are a great source of entertainment,” Trevino said. “Yes, young kids shouldn’t be here, but if a venue can legally allow it and a parent brings their child for whatever reason, then it’s really no one else’s business.”
Kelly Neidert, executive director of the local activist group Protect Texas Kids, believes otherwise, arguing that drag shows are not a place to bring kids. The Texas Legislature seemed to agree, passing a law to prohibit “sexually oriented performances” from being held in the presence of minors.
However, U.S. District Judge David Hittner ruled the law unconstitutional for restricting speech protected by the First Amendment, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. While not presently in effect, the law could still be reactivated by a higher court.
While many LGBTQ activist groups celebrated Hittner’s decision, Neidert said she sees the ruling as a perversion of common sense.
“I think anybody who disagrees with the bill has some issues — because nowhere in that bill does it say anything about drag shows. It’s not targeting drag. It’s literally … preventing children from attending sexually oriented performances,” Neidert previously told The Dallas Express. “So I really don’t understand how any sane person can disagree with that.”
Drag performances more generally have caused some consternation elsewhere in Texas. West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler canceled a planned drag event on the campus, claiming such performances are a form of anti-woman blackface.
“Drag shows stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes for the amusement of others and discriminate against womanhood,” Wendler wrote in an email to university stakeholders, reported NBC News. “Drag shows are derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent.”
While Mr. Misster attracted many patrons over the summer, attendance at recent drag brunches suggests ticket prices may be too high, or interest is simply winding down.
Tickets for most drag brunches attended by The Dallas Express have ranged between $10 and $30 for standard admission, with Mr. Misster typically charging on the upper end of that price range for its afternoon drag shows.
If you include the cost of food and beverages or voluntary tips for each of the five performers, then a typical afternoon drag brunch at Mr. Misster could set patrons back between $50 and $80.