Doing The Most: Hater's Roast Delivers Heaping Serving Of Sass

Bewitched, bewildered....and always be-jeweled. This drag entertainer never steps high-heeled foot outside the home without sparkles galore.
Bewitched, bewildered....and always be-jeweled. This drag entertainer never steps high-heeled foot outside the home without sparkles galore. Photo by Magnus Hastings
There's not a lot required to command a crowd: Just a touch of eye shadow, a tasteful stroke of blush against the cheek, and a truckload of attitude and sass...that's all a girl needs. It's really quite simple. Throw in some hip and chest padding, costumes so bedazzled that Liberace's shower curtain would be jealous, and a touch of humor, and it's a combination that can't be beat. At least that's what the ladies of Hater's Roast: The Shady Tour will be serving. A hilarious, loud-mouthed gaggle of RuPaul's Drag Race divas are heading to House of Blues on March 27 for a night filled with jokes and jabs with a 100 percent guarantee they will leave the audience in stitches — in the good way.

"It's a lot of fun. It's a bunch of girls that people know and love. It's a bunch of very talented comedians. We all get together, get on stage, and it's a traditional roast," said BenDeLaCreme. "We’re making jokes about each other. It's all in good fun. We banter back and forth, and the girls are so clever."

DeLa, as she is commonly referenced, is part of the team that will poke, prod and provoke the other entertainers, at the expense of each other and at the delight of anyone within listening distance. Promotions for the show list Darienne Lake, Latrice Royale, Shea Couleé, Thorgy Thor and Willam as the other guests performers. This is the best of the best when it comes to RuPaul's touring arsenal of lady impersonators who double as comics.

Have you ever seen drag queens "read" each other? After all, reading is fundamental — just ask your local librarian. For the non-indoctrinated, a "read" is when one drag performer jokingly makes fun of another person with a subtle yet unmistakable commentary. It can be anything from sounding off about a misplaced hair line to someone's crooked teeth to a general lack of ability to perform under pressure. The doors are flung wide open, and the comments flow freely. In other words, all bets are off, and everything is on the table. But it's all said in love...or is it? The jury is still hung on that one.

It's a boisterous, fun-filled knee-slapper situation for them to make fun of one another, and it makes for great entertainment for the rest of us. This is the stuff comedy is born from. (Saturday Night Live take note; they're doing it better than you are. Perhaps you should borrow a page from their book.)

This topic begs another question: Is it a "read," or is it "shade?" Let's consult the gay Bible Paris Is Burning to discern the difference.
DeLa is one of the more surprising members of the cast. He has built his persona around a figure that is, as he coins it, "terminally delightful," so it's out of character for him to insult others, but he says that's where the fun comes in.

The show seems like a natural extension of RuPaul's reading challenge - a task where the contestants have to deliver salty, filthy comments to one another. RuPaul lovingly refers to this segment as "The Library Is Open." Yet instead of just delivering one comment per person in traditional RuPaul style, this show allows the performers to have much longer stage time to go ham on everyone else.

"People were surprised when I won the reading challenge [on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars], but the reality is that my character may be sweet but you can do a lot with that and still be in character. She might not know she’s insulting anybody, and that makes it all even funnier," he said. "The difference is that when Ru opens the library, it's very fast. In this thing, each of us is doing a 10 - 20 minute set. There's also no rules. Different girls go different routes, but there are no limits. Some go really hard, they say a lot of things you’d never say outside a roast. What happens at the roast stays at the roast."

So there you have it - all rules are disbanded and nothing is off limits. And in a room full of drag queens, that seems like some pretty dicey territory. But the bravest of souls will still find a way to steel his heart and attend - after all, these are members of the drag royal court who are participating. Even if it requires a stern tongue lashing, these broads are worth the bucks and the brutality.
click to enlarge Oops! This pin-up princess may be terminally delightful, but don't discount her sassy mouth. She'll shock you when you least expect it. - PHOTO BY MAGNUS HASTINGS
Oops! This pin-up princess may be terminally delightful, but don't discount her sassy mouth. She'll shock you when you least expect it.
Photo by Magnus Hastings

DeLa says the show will vary from city to city depending on who is in the lineup. The show often shifts the participants so that no one city gets the exact same performance. And if that wasn't enough, you can always depend on the Goose to shift things up. The amount of alcohol they consume inevitably plays a factor.

"It just depends on who is up there and what kind of mood they’re in and how many cocktails they’ve had. That determines how wild they get," he said. "We’ll do a show one night, and then we'll show up the next day, and we have two new queens [in the lineup] who we need material for, so it keeps us fresh too."

The show is not for the faint of heart. After all, if these men have the guts to dress in women's clothes and beat their faces with makeup to the point where they resemble a different gender, then they surely aren't going to hold back once they get hold of the microphone.

As a general rule, DeLa advises, "Come prepared, and don’t bring your children. Be prepared for the gloves to be off and the nails to be out."

Nails clipped. Hair snatched. Attitude checked. We're ready for some cream of the crop entertainers.

Hater's Roast: The Shady Tour takes place 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. For information, call 888-402-5837 or visit $24.50 - $165.

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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd