By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
As a host, Anita's an ornery bitch. She steals a Corona from a girl, takes a swig and fellates the bottle. "I don't want my tampon to shoot out and knock your drink over!" she says to the crowd. The crowd goes insane for her routine, a raucous, ass-shakin' rendition of Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away." The blonde bartender jumps up on the bar and rocks her hips, handing Anita cash. Straight and gay guys practically molest her, and the women rub her down like she's a buff, bow-tied LaBare dancer.
When Chris Whatley first moved to Houston ten years ago, the Montrose club Heaven was a popular drag spot. "Then, when it burned down," he says, "there wasn't that one good place to go." He remembers hearing about the glory days of Rich's. And it just burns him now that Galveston has the Undercurrent Bar, San Antonio has The Saint and Dallas has The Rose Room. "But Houston has no regular drag bar -- a city as cosmopolitan as this? We should have the best because we're the biggest city. Houston should have the biggest dick."
Three years ago, he created the Anita Bump persona for the annual Montrose Softball League event "Jocks in Dresses." "I live for the instant gratification of a live audience," he says. The show gave him the idea of creating a local drag night. He envisioned a weekly gig where gays, straights, singles, couples and everyone in between could drink, shake their things and scream for drag divas.
That's definitely the crowd tonight. With all the screaming straight girls, the event could become the next big bachelorette spot. "It's because your inhibitions are out the door the minute you walk in," says Jana, a brunette from Midtown. "You don't have to worry about some crazy straight guys hitting on you here. You can hang out with your girlfriends, drink and have a great time. And you can flirt with the gay guys if you want." Jana's friend Cindy, who lost a brother to AIDS, loves the vibe. "You could actually bring a boyfriend because it's funny and witty," she says. "And the crowd's straight, gay, whatever." Chris, a young gay guy from Dallas, agrees. "This is like Dallas's Rose Room," he says, "but like, so much better -- and friendlier."
There have been some snags tonight: Anita trips, Vanessa loses an earring and Jill's CD skips during her entire second act. "How do you think I feel?" she snaps when asked how she's doing backstage. But the audience is in love. Anita returns in a black lace dress that hugs her body. Her wig is short, spiky and choppy on top, with bleached areas jutting out and long braids dangling down. There are fake bloodstains on her calves, lips and mouth. Her left eye has been blackened. She looks like a member of KISS who's just had her ass beat down. Which is the point, as her song is the '80s Pat Benatar classic "Hit Me with Your Best Shot." This is how Anita finishes all her numbers, with a kooky comedy bit. The week before, she took the stage as Britney, carrying -- often nearly dropping -- a baby. And there's no telling what she has in store for her Halloween party, which pits her and the entire cast in "some crazy shit."
"There's a little drag queen in everybody," she says. "I think that's why everyone loves this. Houston needs a show where people can drink, dance and get dissed by a crazy bitch."