On June 13, Philly’s veteran drag queen VinChelle streamed their latest Black Girl Magic show “Revolutions,” in which two dozen local drag queens of color celebrated Black and LGBTQ+ lives.
“I always like to think that every single Black Girl Magic that I do is a very important show,” VinChelle said. “I think that this one obviously now has a deeper meaning because of what’s currently happening. But I must stress that this is not the first time that police brutality happened, it’s just come to light a little bit more. I’ve been thinking about stuff like this for several years now.”
The evening’s performers included Icon Ebony Fierce, Sir Donyx, Omyra Lynn, Sakura Allure, Lasha Snark, Marcha Pisces, Poochie, Paula Deen-White, Diva Luvs It, Iyvanna Blackout, Tina Montgomery, Daught Ladell, Mz. Peaches, Dalyla Mizani Cristal, Phi’ly Jawn, Heavens 2 Betsy, Zephyra Rivers, Kareem Anthony, Mae Rose, Miss Ty, Strawberri Tang, Zsa Zsa Dali, Sapphira Cristal and Marcus G. Tina Montgomery’s and Strawberri Tang’s performances were from previous live Black Girl Magic shows.
Some of the show’s performers wove overtly political messages into their performances, making powerful commentary about today’s ideology in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Others celebrated Black lives by simply showing off their talents and performing to songs by Black artists.
In addition to sharing artists’ online payment details for tips, VinChelle shared their details and promised to donate all monetary contributions to Black Lives Matter. Jocks PHL, a Black-owned bar, matched VinChelle’s donations, which brought the total to $4,472, according to VinChelle’s Facebook post.
VinChelle kicked off the evening with their own act, in which they celebrated their African culture by performing a couple of songs, one of which was “SPIRIT” from Beyonce’s album “The Lion King: The Gift.”
“Pretty much the basis of my drag is African and tribal artwork,” VinChelle said. Beyonce’s album hit home for VinChelle on multiple levels. “I was just like, ‘Oh my god, it’s the best of both worlds for me, I can [pay tribute to] Beyonce and I can represent my African culture.’ [Beyonce] actually brought African people to be on the album. That song means a lot to me.”
Following VinChelle, Sir Donyx performed a set laden with satirical commentary in voiceover format, interspersed with music including Leikeli47’s “Attitude,” and more pointed commentary about Black lives from various media outlets. Sir Donyx also lip-synced to a voiceover by Elektra, a trans character from the TV show “Pose,” as she verbally eviscerated a cis woman who mocked her for being trans.
“I know our presence threatens you,” Elektra said via Sir Donyx. “We fought for our place at this table, and that has made us stronger than you will ever be.”
“Honestly, every single performance really resonated with me,” VinChelle said. “However, I remember when I was sitting there going through all the videos before, Daught Ladell’s video really stood out to me. I remember the crowd responded really well to it.”
Daught Ladell brought a very powerful, politically-charged performance that began with photos of protests, of people fighting for Black lives, paired with the song “Stand Up” by actress and musician Cynthia Erivo. Photos of protests were interspersed with shots of Daught Ladell walking down the Art Museum steps and down Philly streets. To end their performance, the drag performer stripped off most of their clothes and wig to reveal their body, feigned getting shot and collapsed into the street, symbolically standing in solidarity with George Floyd and all people of color who were murdered at the hands of police.
Zsa Zsa Dali passionately lip-synced a performance of the Langston Hughes poem “Let America be America again,” wearing fluorescent makeup, with forlorn piano music accompanying.
“Oh, let my land be a land where liberty/ is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,” the poem reads. “But opportunity is real, and life is free,/ Equality is in the air we breathe./ (There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this ‘homeland of the free.’)”
Sapphire Cristal incorporated the Porsha Olayiwola poem “Angry Black Woman,” which was interspersed amid Danielle Brooks’ song “Black Woman.” In a fierce delivery, the local drag queen mouthed Olayiwola’s potent words:
“I’m pissed the f–k off, I’m mad,/ Because above everything,/ At any given time and in any given space,/ I, as a Black woman,/ can suffer from racism, sexism, homophobia, classism./ I can be raped, beat, be burned alive and no one,/ Not a single soul would look up to acknowledge my absence/ from this universe…”
Plenty of entertainers showcased thematically lighter fare, like Mae Rose, who submitted a burlesque-like act in front of a live audience. Paula Deen-White danced in a kitchen in a swanky, bathrobe-turned-dress, and Dalyla Mizani Cristal brought some serious dance moves in an R&B music video-esque performance.
“On the entertainment side, I really enjoyed Dalyla Mizani Cristal’s performance –– I love that whole music video vibe,” VinChelle said. “I think that everyone really really brought it.”
VinChelle made available the show in its near entirety on their Facebook page, which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/SheaButterWerk/. As of press time, the two-part performance gained over 7,000 views combined