Dollar bills. Mimosas. Wigs. Pop songs. Lipstick. Welcome to Mobile’s Drag Queen Brunch, hosted by OK Bicycle Shop on Dauphin Street the first Saturday and third Sunday of each month, rain or shine.
The brunch features a special menu and copious amounts of Champagne and orange juice, but the main attraction is the Wakettes — Champagne Munroe, Jawakatema Davenport and Zamareyah Dawn. Dressed in elaborate costumes, stilettos, flawless makeup and wigs, the ladies lip-sync to well-loved pop hits while dancing, flipping and even performing “death drops” — on-purpose falls that result in the drag queen on her back with a leg folded underneath — all while collecting hundreds of single dollar bills being thrust at them by excited bachelorettes and birthday girls.
“Sometimes people think there’s some kind of agenda in drag,” says Jawakatema Davenport, who goes by Joshua Lockwood when not performing as Davenport in clubs along the Gulf Coast, from New Orleans to Pensacola. “But really, we just want to make money, entertain people and express ourselves. If you think about it, everybody has a drag queen in them. Everyone has listened to a song in the car or in the shower and performed in some kind of way. We just take it to another level and have a spotlight and stage to do it on.”
Drag is an adrenaline rush like any other performance, Davenport says, comparing the experience of a drag show to any other concert or theater production.
“At my shows, I like for people to forget what’s going on in their lives for a little while,” Davenport says. “If you’re having a bad time at work or an argument with your spouse, you can come and forget about all of that and enjoy yourself. I love to see people in the crowd smiling, jumping up and down and cheering.”
Drag can be a full-time career for some performers, but Davenport says most of the money she makes at a show is invested back into costumes, jewelry, makeup and wigs.
“It’s a lot of work, and it’s actually pretty expensive,” Davenport says. “For example, we spend a lot of time on padding — we create our curves out of foam — and I have to spend a lot on shoes because I wear a size 12 in men’s.”
Davenport was born and raised in Mobile and in 2003 moved to Birmingham, where the drag scene was already booming. She performed “Toxic” by Britney Spears as a joke at an amateur night but ended up winning the competition.
“Winning that $50 was a huge deal as a college freshman,” Davenport says. “I was hooked.”
Davenport moved back to Mobile in 2007, and says the community has since welcomed the drag brunch sensation. The regular event at OK Bicycle Shop began as a one-time fundraiser for a local charity.
“The place was sold out — standing room only,” Davenport says. “I was like, ‘I see dollar signs. I think this could happen.’ And now it’s been going strong for over a year. Here we are, three drag queens with a regular gig at a venue on Dauphin Street in Mobile, Alabama. It’s been amazing.”