There’s brunch–that evermore popular way to eat and drink most of a Saturday or Sunday away–and then there’s drag brunch.
Pairing the longstanding and celebrated culture of drag performance with the slow-motion gastronomic journey from eggs Benedict to stuffed French toast, drag brunches bring dance music, elaborate costumes, and styled wigs. There’s nothing like a drag brunch to keep you awake after a long night. And thanks to the ongoing success of TV series like RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag brunches have never been hotter. Nowadays, restaurants that are themed after drag brunches have become national chains, including Hamburger Mary’s. New York City, specifically, has seen drag brunches for decades with long-time fixtures like Lucky Cheng’s and Lips NYC.
“It’s always a fun and positive show,” says Trans drag performer Alicia Love Williams (she will slay the house down henny!). As the reigning Miss Trans New York 2023 and cast member of the reality series Chasing: LA,, Williams has performed at brunches all over the country, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. With certain corners of the country renewing the cultural war against drag entertainment, it was time to talk with Williams about drag, drag brunch, and the importance of representation—more now than ever.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What inspired you to do drag?
I’ve always been the type of child who loved to dance and listen to music. By the time I was 18, I’d watched a lot of pageants, and would go to clubs, including Zeifeld’s/Secrets (now permanently closed).That’s where my passion for performing started, seeing all of the queens on stage looking glamorous. One performer in particular, Kristina Kelly, inspired me to perform.
Alicia Love Williams flows right off the tongue. How did you come up with your drag name?
Well, when I first started, I had a different drag name. When I started to transition, I wanted my name to not be too far from my government name. That’s how I came up with “Alicia.” I also had a friend who said to me, ‘You always say you can either love me or hate me.’ That’s when it clicked that “Alicia Love” was going to be my stage name.
How has your personal experience influenced your drag persona, performance, and identity?
My personal experience has definitely influenced my drag on stage. Unfortunately in 2019, I was attacked. When I’m on stage, I like to embody the pain and hurt that I’ve been through. I like to do political statement numbers, and I like to represent the Trans community when I’m on stage. Before my attack I wasn’t really doing that.
I’m so sorry that happened to you. Our current political climate has been pushing back against LGBTQ+ spaces, especially drag. What are your thoughts on the recent legislation calling to restrict or ban the artform?
It makes me so upset because they are hindering children and also targeting hard-working performers. I feel that the ban is based on hate and ignorance. I feel like the queens should be able to perform and be themselves. No matter what, the ban is a direct attack on Trans people and drag queens’ first amendment rights.
Drag brunches have always been around, but it seems more mainstream than ever. What made you want to host a drag brunch?
When I host drag brunches I enjoy the crowd, and getting the opportunity to meet different types of people. There is so much energy. For example, there are more bachelorette parties at drag brunches than at night shows.
How have brunches influenced your performances?
I usually tend to do more fun and engaging numbers with the crowd. I tend to not be overly sexual out of respect for the kids in the audience. Keep in mind, though, we still have a right to be ourselves on stage and off, period!
You have been performing at drag brunches in major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Vegas. How has the city you’re performing in influence you?
The cities influence me so much from the song I choose, to the costumes I wear. For example, when I perform in Vegas, I do more feathered costumes and glittery gowns. When I’m performing in someplace like North Carolina, the songs and costumes are more towards hip hop and gospel.
What is your favorite brunch menu item?
I love anything with fried chicken, so I always go for the chicken and waffles. I also love fish tacos with extra tartar sauce on the side, and don’t forget the mimosas. They get me fired up to hit the stage.
You can find Alicia Love performing at clubs and bars in New York City such as Pieces Bar, The Spot, and Playhouse. Follow her on Instagram to find upcoming shows.