Hostess Miss Patti
Hostess Miss Patti

Welcome to the Funhouse

Saying that anything can happen during Talent Night at King Leo's Club is a massive understatement. It's more like anything will happen during this popular lip-synch competition. On one occasion, a lady known as "Choice" came up to perform Mary J. Blige's "Your Child," and her wig flew off right in the middle of the first chorus, to a howling audience. Either too proud or too inebriated to be embarrassed, she went on with the performance while the crowd passed around her fake hair.

"Girl, thank God that was just a wig," said the show's MC, Miss Patti, "because I thought your head came off your body." After the show, Miss Patti, better known as 42-year-old Houstonian Shirley Davis, confided it's those kinds of "incidents" that have kept the show going for 15 years. "That's something we could've never paid her to do," she said.

Talent Night (not to be confused with Open Mike Night on Thursdays, hosted by Miss Vanessa) has been a long-standing showcase for folk to come down and lip-synch to their favorite tunes. While some show up to compete for cash prizes, others show up just to get into it with Miss Patti. "A lot of people say they come up just to cut it up with me," she says. "They call it ranking, but I don't call it ranking, I just call it being myself, you know?"

Miss Patti is an acerbic spitfire whose on-the-spot wit and ability to check drunken hecklers make her one of the show's top draws. Apart from being a professional MC, she's also a single mother, stand-up comedienne, star impersonator, hairdresser, cosmetology instructor and die-hard Patti LaBelle fan.

The club's owner, Betty Reid, encouraged Patti, after a five-year hiatus, to return to the unpredictable show she manages so well. "Some people try to come out to get rid of their inhibitions," Miss Patti says. "Some people just come out to be seen, to have a good time."

By the way, remember the gal whose hair fell out in the middle of her performance? Well, guess who won first prize?

Talent Night, hosted by Miss Patti, occurs every Tuesday night at King Leo's Club, 4546 Griggs. It starts around 11:30 p.m. For more information, call (713)741-5105.


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