In a building on Buford Highway, just a drag queen’s eyelash north of North Druid Hills Road, lies a place like no other in Atlanta. It’s the city’s only full-time drag and dining establishment, and it’s drawing a diverse group of visitors five days and eight shows a week. It is Lips.
The club boasts an impressive list of notable queens on its 24-strong roster, including local legends Charlie Brown and Bubba D. Licious along with established veterans like Savannah Leigh and Monica Van Pelt. Promising up-andcomers like GA Voice Best Drag Queen winner Evah Destruction are also part of the show.
The idea for Lips sprouted from the mind of a Studio 54 regular named Yvonne Lamé, who drew inspiration from the famous New York City club during its heyday and dreamed of one day opening up a big, shiny, over-the-top club of her own. That day came in 1996 with the opening of the flagship Lips location in New York City, quickly followed three years later by a second location in San Diego, a third in Fort Lauderdale in 2008 and finally Lips Atlanta last September.
‘LIKE A DRAG QUEEN’S JEWELRY BOX EXPLODED’
The dining-and-drag concept isn’t a new one, with cabaret-type theaters featuring drag queens going back as far as the 1940s and 1950s in New York City. Lips’ office and reservations manager Bubba D. Licious hosted a Monday night show at Nickiemoto’s for nearly a decade before the restaurant closed up shop. Cowtippers has also done it before, and you can even order up something from the kitchen during drag shows at Blake’s and Burkhart’s.
But as those who have visited can attest, the Lips experience is something completely different. Once you walk in the door you’re surrounded by all things that shimmer and shine, a sea of pink and teal and red and gold with bedazzled mirrors, revolving disco balls and huge chandeliers reflecting the sparkly madness back and forth across the entire club.
“As Yvonne says, it’s like a drag queen’s jewelry box exploded,” Bubba D. Licious tells the GA Voice.
She says that about half of the entertainment staff is gay but that most of the audience is straight. Although, as always, the gays come out in force for brunch—Gospel Brunch that is, hosted by Licious and Justice Counce. And visitors shouldn’t feel shy and sit on their hands.
“It’s very participatory,” Licious says. “You are encouraged to get up and dance and sing along.”
STYLES RANGE ALL ACROSS THE BOARD
If you go to Lips expecting one certain type of drag, forget it, because the entertainment is all across the board in terms of drag styles.
“There’s everything from the campy Armorettes-type entertainment, then we have the former Miss Gay Black America,” Licious says. “We have major title holders in national drag … and we have a lot of the younger girls that are like what you see on ‘Rupaul’s Drag Race’ that are more androgynous.”
As far as cost, there’s a $15 food minimum with a $5 cover charge added onto the check for Sunday through Thursday shows and $10 added for Friday and Saturday shows. Reservations are suggested for tables, and if you want to take in a Friday or Saturday show, both of which are hosted by Charlie Brown, Lips recommends booking it two weeks in advance.
There are no separate checks, and if you have a problem with that, try taking it up with your waitress—who, yes, will be a drag queen. So good luck with that.