Earlier this year, when the Rainbow Lounge met its fiery end, the stage and spotlight many a performer called home in Fort Worth were snuffed out with it. We have plenty of bars in the city, but few that can cater to a live performance-based act with many moving parts and audience interaction –– most local businesses are configured for small live bands only.
It’s no surprise that losing one of the few LGBTQ-focused meeting spots in the area would leave a crater in Fort Worth’s nightlife and drag scene. This is especially true when losing a place so beloved that the famous drag performer, activist, and icon Whitney Paige considered it her home bar until her tragic passing from pancreatic cancer in 2013.
As Lady Elizabeth Lindsey, former show director of the Rainbow Lounge, described, “It was a safe place, a family … where many of us became entertainers, friends. Especially for the young kids coming up, they had a place to go where they could be free and express themselves.”
Such was the quandary when the end of the venerable Rainbow Lounge also meant Bianca Davenport Starr’s wildly popular Super Sunday and Starr Studded Thursdays drag shows no longer had a local performance space. All of the LGBTQ bars had existing shows, so availability was a little hard to come by at first. But there was no keeping the fierce and fabulous ladies away for long, even when it meant flipping the script and partnering up with a bar not traditionally known for hosting drag nights.
If you are under 30 years old and not a TCU student, new hotspot Hooky may have passed under your radar entirely. The nightclub is one of the six bars that share the 2800 Bledsoe Street address I affectionately call the Lambda Gamma Thunderdome. However, Hooky doesn’t appear be a one-trick pony, as management and staff have been reaching out to members of the community to help put a little variety into their slice of the West 7th party-verse. Show director Lady Elizabeth and host and performer Bianca have teamed up with Hooky management for Rhinestone Cowboy Sunday Nights. The “Best Little Drag Show in Texas” will feature a rotating cast of performers, including both locally renowned and world-famous divas, each Sunday night starting at 11pm. No two weeks will be the same, so expect unique, innovative performances in a positive, inclusive environment.
If you are one of the Fort Worthians who has never attended a drag show before and is interested in seeing what all the fun and fuss is about, let me recommend you put yourself in the very capable hands of Queen Bianca. She is the former host of the two aforementioned Rainbow Lounge shows, current crown bearer of Miss Gay Dallas Pride, and the former Miss Gay Texas State. Her dynamic personality, and the company she keeps, will carry any crowd through a late Sunday night party.
I’ll confess, when I first spoke with Lady Elizabeth about having a traditionally straight-people focused bar as the location for an epic drag show, I was pretty incredulous. But she assured me that this has been a great experience from the start. “It’s been a blessing to be able to bring this into the ‘normal’ bars, as some say,” she said. “When people let go and just have fun, life is much more enjoyable. And drag is entertainment!” Cheers to that.