March 07, 2007


Apparently, Shirley Q. Liquor'ss blackface routine has now raised enough eyebrows and inspired enough protests at her gigs that GLAAD has issued a statement condemning her, even though GLAAD seems to base their objections on hearsay. Here's their proclamation from a couple weeks ago which lead to an LA gig being cancelled. It also lead to Shirley's Hartford, Connecticutt gig being cancelled at a gay club called Chez Est, which I was glad to fill in as the headliner last weekend. Because of the name Chez, I assumed it was a long E and therefore a latino club. (Is that racist if love cheesy foreskin?) I was mistaken, but nevertheless delighted to make my Hartford debut and announce to the crowd that they had cancelled the controversial performer in favor of possibly the only area queen who was filthier and even more offensive! And I finally revealed that Lady Bunny is actually a character portrayed by me, actually a black male actor in whiteface. And that unlike Shirley, I did not dress up as a fat, poor, trashy black woman--just a fat, poor, trashy white one. And that appropriately enough, it was black history month: Shirley's black and face it, SHE'S HISTORY! Just kidding, Shirly-girl! Shirley, as alter-ego Chuck Knipp, called to say "hi" after the show and I told her I'd never performed in Connecticutt. Without missing a beat, s/he quipped "Me either!" Hee hee!


Anyhoo, Frontiers mag asked Jackie Beat and I, as dragoons, to comment on the issue. Jackie include a picture of her in blackface to illustrate how different it was to dress up as a glamorous black woman, as opposed to Chuck's poor, fat, welfare mother of 19 "chirren". Well, I don't think the fat is part of either Chuck or Jackie's costume--it doesn't come at the end of the night along with my wig and braw either! But Jackie does look wild. Those highlighted cheeks! She does the best shading, the shady bitch! In truth, though, Jackie did not intend for Frontiers to use this pic as her main photo, only as a bonus image of something she tried once. And Jackie was a peeved at the photo's usage. And you don't peeve that ho. I imagine her response is on her blog on, but I couldn't get on.


Here's GLAAD's statement:


Los Angeles, Tuesday, February 6, 2007 — Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), today condemned performance artist Charles Knipp’s “Shirley Q. Liquor” character for promoting and perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes.

The character, a staple of Knipp’s live local performances and spoken-word recordings (including a CD entitled Spirit of Ignunce), is performed in drag and blackface. “Liquor” is described as a welfare mother with 19 children, and Knipp’s depiction relies on a stereotypical misappropriation of African American dialect often associated with the South.

Recent email communications by several community members speaking out against Knipp’s performance brought his act to GLAAD’s attention, and local activists protested a scheduled – and subsequently canceled – performance in Los Angeles.

“While our work at GLAAD is about promoting fair, accurate and inclusive media representations of the LGBT community, this issue has risen to a level of visibility and importance that we feel compelled to add our voice to those speaking out against this awful portrayal,” Giuliano said. “Based on what we have heard from community members and read about this character, we are joining those taking a stand against Knipp’s offensive caricature.”

“We recognize that this performer has a right to free speech and expression, but we also have the right to condemn his performance and speak out against this harmful depiction,” Giuliano added. “This performance perpetuates ugly racial stereotypes that are offensive, hurtful and simply unacceptable, and we are urging our constituents to visit so that they can express their concerns to the venues at which Knipp is expected to perform in the coming months.”

Here are Jackie's and my response from Frontiers archives.(I added my unedited version which is not found online. I also added my response to Jackie's take on it but could not find her response to mine online in their archives.)


After a series of complaints led the Comedy Store to cancel Charles Knipp’s drag performance of his blackface character Shirley Q. Liquor, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) joined the fray when GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano released a statement saying, “Based on what we have heard from community members and read about this character, we are joining those taking a stand against Knipp’s offensive caricature. … This performance perpetuates ugly racial stereotypes that are offensive, hurtful and simply unacceptable.” Frontiers spoke with two of today’s hottest—and most controversial—drag performers, Jackie Beat and Lady Bunny, to get their take.

BUNNY: I see several sides to this controversy. In my own act, I frequently venture outside the realm of tastefulness. I’m also a drag queen who’s dressing up as something I’m not. Oppressed by men, some women feel that a man in drag is as offensive as blacks find blackface to be. I’m also less PC than most, and actually can’t completely condemn Tim Hardaway’s recent “I hate gays” vent. I may not like to hear it, but it’s his truth and freedom of speech must be upheld. Shirley’s freedom of expression must also be upheld and her detractors should have every right to protest her appearances freely.

I’ve never seen Shirley’s entire act—only snippets online which I found funny. Her “How you durrin’?” has become a popular catchphrase—in fact a black queen said it to me just last night. RuPaul used Shirley for a voiceover on his last album—so Miss Liquor obviously doesn’t offend all blacks. But I was also told that Shirley’s act contained a joke something like this: ( I’m paraphrasing) “My son had diarrhea—and I thought he was melting”, which equates black skin with shit. This shocked even a black friend of mine who’d once opened for Shirley because he was such a fan of hers.

It boils down to where you draw the PC line. A general rule in comedy is that you’re free to berate your own kind. So jews can make jewish jokes, HIV+ folks can make AIDS jokes, and the handicapped can make crippled jokes. Since these people experience the discrimination or hardships that come with their ethnicity, orientation or condition, they are less likely to be condemned for targeting their own. By wearing blackface, Shirley is clearly crossing that line.

A black person can't shed a lifetime of discrimination the way Shirley removes her greasepaint at the end of a show. In addition, since she’s dressing up as a poor, ignorant black woman with 19 children, she’s hardly creating a positive image. So if you’re already opposed to the notion of blackface in general, Shirley’s character would seem particularly reprehensible. Especially when you consider the history of race relations in this country. There are still blacks alive today who had to drink from separate water fountains, so deep wounds still exist. But humor can sometimes help heal wounds.

I think most people would find Shirley’s long list of her kids’ ridiculous names, in her dead-on accent to be amusing. Why? Because some blacks give their kids funny-sounding names. Black comics make fun of this and so do white ones. But is it too offensive coming from a queen in blackface? And if it is offensive, should all offensive performances be cancelled? If so, say goodbye to many beloved comedians. I’d hope that the venue which booked Shirley would have the conviction to back up their choice despite protests. There isn’t one answer to this because it involves personal boundaries. Because my own act may be considered offensive by some, I get very nervous about show cancellations. However, I rejoiced when Jamaican artist Beenie Man’s concerts were chopped because his lyrics recommended attacking gays. To me, Shirley’s act is not that seditious. But then again, I’m not black. But I also didn’t see fit to go and protest the negative, whiteface bimbo images portrayed by two black actors in WHITE CHICKS when the fucking atmosphere is collapsing and my tax dollars are unnecessarily murdering Iraqis every day.

JACKIE BEAT: “This liquor leaves a bad taste in my mouth”

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not a big fan of GLAAD. I have, in fact, referred to them as “the Nelly Nazis” in the past. In the spirit of full disclosure, let me also admit that part of the reason I dislike GLAAD is because I spent a hellish week sequestered in a horribly decorated West Hollywood apartment for a reality show called Seriously Dude, I’m Gay! attempting to coach a hetero hunk into passing for a flaming faggot and, thanks to GLAAD’s whining the show was unceremoniously pulled from Fox’s lineup. You can imagine my shock when I learned that I actually agree with them about “performer” Shirley Q. Liquor.

Anyone who has seen my act or read my writing knows that I am no prude, and am certainly not afraid to push the envelope. I have appeared onstage with a Hitler hand puppet, I have enough songs about human feces to do an entire 90-minute show (“For one night only, Fubar becomes Poo-Bar!”), not to mention songs with fun titles such as “Cancer Don’t Care That It’s Christmas,” and I am currently the opening act for legendary feather-ruffler and wave-maker Roseanne Barr. Enough said.

Yes, I will say just about anything on stage, and to me, when it comes to comedy, nothing is sacred. But, when I make a joke that could be considered racist, the audience is laughing at me—the ignorant white person who sadly knows no better. They are laughing at the self-centered white lady who is so wrapped up in herself and her world that she is a clueless idiot. They are laughing at the white lady, not a crude black stereotype. It’s called irony, and the definition is saying one thing to express the exact opposite. My simple rule of thumb is this: If a member of the KKK would laugh uproariously at your act, something is very wrong.

When you watch Borat, you have a gut feeling as to what the ultimate message is. When you watch Shirley Q. Liquor (who has none of the intelligence or irony of Sasha Baron Cohen), you may laugh, but it’s a shallow laugh, not a deep, healthy, cathartic one. People may think that Liquor is funny because she’s “so wrong,” but this just proves that audiences have become stupid and lazy and will settle for simple shock value instead of well-conceived, well-written, well-performed comedy. The same thing has happened to music. If you don’t believe me, I have two words for you: Paris Hilton.

Look, if I honestly thought Shirley Q. Liquor was funny, like Lisa Lampinelli or Sarah Silverman, I could and would forgive just about anything. But sadly, she commits the ultimate sin of any comedian, far worse than even blatant racism—she’s just not funny.

MY REBUTTAL TO JACKIE'S PIECE: So Jackie Beat is prejudiced AND cruel to animals! Otherwise she wouldn't exclude animal feces in her act. She takes great pains to specify "human feces"--It's just not fair! Seriously, few people are as funny as Jackie. But the issue here is whether or not Shirley should or shouldn't be wearing blackface. And though Jackie may not find her funny, if no one else did, then Shirley wouldn't be getting booked enough to warrant GLAAD's condemnation of her. Shirley has fans, and I don't think the fans get off on the shock value alone, as Jackie suggests. Whether it's offensive or not, Shirley beautifully recreates an interesting accent which is not only one of place, but of time and yes, ethnicity and poverty level, too. The accent appeals to me as much as her humor. And Jackie, I hate to tell you, but there was a guy in a KKK hood at your last show. And he laughed uproariously every second...that he was awake!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at the horrible picture of Shirley Q. Liquor. If you're going to charge people to watch you enact your perverted transvestite fantasy, you'd better learn to do your makeup properly and you ought to get your wigs styled instead of slapping on something from the Halloween store.

Chez Est's crowd came out ahead when they got you instead, Bunny!

8:30 PM  
Blogger Lady Bunny said...

I appreciate that, Buffy. But I don't think Shirley's necessary trying to look pretty or polished. Unlike me, who tries and fails! --LB

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:20 AM  
Blogger Lady Bunny said...

Crystal, are you related to Pepa? --LB

6:30 AM  
Blogger DJ Fruit Loops said...

Bunny you dont fail at all

For the longest time we could not convince Jimmys Mom (who adores you btw) That you were indeed a man
she swore that you were Dusty Springfields Daughter
and she was dead serious

7:34 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Divine Grace makes a really good argument...why IS it that racism is only decried when it's perceived at being directed at blacks? I believe it's because our "history" isn't that far behind us, and there's still great suffering. It was only a generation ago that blacks formally got the legal right to vote, and the wounds of hundreds of years of racism are still raw. So people are very sensitive to any perceived slur, and yes, there are those who use this sensitivity to their advantage. They also feel that "paybacks" are only fair, hence the "Y'all evah notice how white people..." jokes you hear on BET.

Some gay people were very offended by Isaiah Washington's remarks, but let's face it, do any of us really expect better from such a person? I know I don't--he's notorious for being a hotheaded, arrogant asshole.

And you're right, everybody just needs to take their comic beating, because we're all going to get one. But I think comedy is most effective if performers stick to what they know, which leads me to wonder: what does Chuck Knipp know about being a black woman? I know when I watch non-gay black men imitate gays, it's irritating because it looks so ignorant, uninformed and superficial. Shirley must look the same to black people...

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are Blacks allowed to attend the Shirley Q. Liquor show. Maybe if they were banned and didn't see it, then they wouldn't be so furious

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love Shirley Q. Liquor.

She is hysterically funny.

Yankees don't "get" the joke.

Her impersonations are brilliantly done.

Chuck Knipp is a very talented comedian.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh lord have mercy. I can't believe I'm actually going to disagree with the FIERCE Jackie Beat.

Shirley makes me laugh until my stomach aches. I am totally lost in the character that Chuck becomes. His comedy is funny because it's real, which is why most stuff is funny, right? I identify with a lot of Shirley's jokes because I grew up very poor. Lord, the "homeopathic Kool-aide" bit is SOOOOO true! HA!

I can absolutely see how people would be so offended by Shirley, but that just makes her all the more fun.

And I agree with many of the comments on this post--what about "White Girls"? What about the BET comedy shows? Do I laugh when white people get made fun of by the black comics? Hell yes! I can't help but laugh at stuff when it's funny--no matter how wrong it is.

Bunny, Jackie--you both are so wrong that it's right--and that's why you're loved! I don't see much of a difference in the comedy you two do and the comedy Chuck does.

By the way, didn't GLAAD do this song and dance already with Shirley? Isn't that how the Boston gig got canceled a while back? Get a new focus, GLAAD! We need you working on more important shit.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rike SHILREY Q. RIQUOR velly much, tee-hee! She funny rady! She inspile me to stalt my new act. You come see it, yes? Miso funny!

8:05 PM  
Blogger amandalynnette said...

I love Shirley Q Liquor and Betty Butterfield. Do white people get mad at him for doing his betty butterfield act? It is Comedy. If people have not noticed every comic makes fun of someone. I don't get why people are mad at chuck knipp. Is it because of the blackface? I'm pretty sure being shirley would'nt work if he didnt paint his self up. I can't understand why people are mad about it. I live in texas and people really do act like shirley and betty here thats one of the reasons its so funny. Black people can make fun of white people but white people sure as hell better not open their mouth about a black person. its ridiculous.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuck gladd

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The united states and Britain have apologised for their forefathers' part in the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. But in the spirit of going forward, shouldn't certain african tribes apologise for cooking christian misionaries in enormous metal couldrons and stealing their top hats? If black people had read history they would also know that they were white slaves too, yes they were! but lets forget about those as they have nothing to gain. I'm sorry if this is all out of context I've taken two do-do chesteze tablets with a large glass of absinth. Oh and another thing the MOBO black music awards can you imagine the hoo-haa if white people had a white only music award ceremony. What are the GLAAD brigade going to ban next bubble perms, sunbeds, silicon lip implants? The fucking nit pickers they should get a life and stop interfering!

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimiphil,your mother is a jackass.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was very offended by Michael Jackson's song (It don't matter if you're) Black or White, it's political correctness gone mad, and shows complete lack of respect for my situation in which being black or white is a matter of life or death.

A polar Bear
Somewhere in Arctica

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People should try and look at this situation through Shirley Q. Liquor's eyes. Granted, the act is horrid. It should have no place in any society. However, isn't there something refreshing about it?

Is it possible that the man who is playing Shirley Q. Liquor is actually aware of how sick his act is, and his M.O. is to high light the absurdity of stereotypes by demonstrating an extremely ridiculous example of one.

Maybe, the punch-line of his act is that the joke isn't funny. While it may be fun to laugh at Shirley because she's so extreme, perhaps the debate that she's creating is whats most important.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charles Knipp, the creator of Shirley Q. Liquor, in his own words, taken from the Southern Decadence website:

"I am a firm believer that comedy is a way to heal past injustices, prejudice and hate. Laughter is healing and in my attempt to make people laugh, I think I can work just as hard as any social activist to make this world just. I have seen prejudice and hatred and know it well. My hometown is in the heart of hatred. I commuted with black students to and from Lamar University."

"My character Shirley Q. Liquor was created in celebration of, not to downgrade, black women. Like most characters, she is a composite woman from a person I know and my own creativity -- and also a composite of reverse stereotypes and cultural differences. Shirley Q. Liquor is just one of many characters that I do, but she has caught on because of her unique view of the world."

"My comedy isn't racist, nor am I. More than anything, my comedy makes fun of whites' views of blacks. My comedy pokes fun at everything, including myself. That's what comedy is about, making us escape form everyday life and seeing the funny side."

11:07 AM  

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