Risque Business: Hail to the Queens

Terri Vanessa Coleman at the Connection. PHOTO BY JOEY HARRISON

No time to write a proper intro this morning. Here’s my latest story, in the June issue of  Louisville Magazine, about the drag queens of the Connection nightclub and the businessmen behind this growing entertainment — well, maybe not an empire, but at least a sub-empire. You can also read it here. Joey Harrison shot the above photo, but photos in the story are by Mickie Winters.

It’s midnight, Saturday, April 5, at the Connection nightclub on South Floyd Street downtown, and Terri Vanessa Coleman is singing. Her muffled voice comes through the walls from her dressing room. It means she is in some kind of a bother, a ferment that’s been building since the first show at 10:30 p.m.Another performer says Terri Vanessa bumped her out of the way during the opening production number, leaving her to flounce onstage unescorted. Then Terri Vanessa had angry words about who-knows-what with the guy who cues the music, and now he’s upset. And she’s been singing ever since. That’s never a good sign.

She doesn’t want to talk about it. “Not now!” she says, poking her head from her dressing room door and waving a long pink fingernail. “This is just not a good time, honey. Maybe Thursday.”

In a dressing room at the other end of the narrow blue hall, Mokha Montrese shivers, a small white towel draped over her shoulders. Apart from a G-string and tape over her nipples, she wears only jewel-red lipstick, her No. 301 false eyelashes and gold jewelry. Her wig is off, her own hair crushed into a tight cap. She cannot get warm, but she does not get dressed. Next door, Cezanne Blincoe is nearly ready for the next set, her makeup perfect, her dress picked out. She moves like a woman with all the time in the world.

Mokha shouts to Cezanne through the wall. “Cezanne, I really need to go home.”

Cezanne walks in, taking in the scene.

“I’m feeling worse as it goes on,” Mokha gasps. “I really need to go. I feel so weak. And I’m so f–cking cold.”

“Put some clothes on,” Cezanne offers. Instead, Mokha puts her head down and closes her eyes, each breath coming with a tiny catch.

At the other end of the hall, Hurricane Summers and Franco de la Rosa can still hear Terri Vanessa’s indistinct warble through the wall. They look at each other, and Franco, aka the  Puerto Rican Papi, goes back to sizing up his physique. He’s the male lead in the drag show, LaBoy LeFemme, escorting the girls through production numbers. They tower over him in their impossible heels. … READ THE REST OF THE STORY

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