From left: Ivy, Miss He, and Minty formed Chapel Beauty to be a show “rooted in authentic Blackness.” / Photo by @yeahitslyle

The Search for a New Chapel

There are ten commandments for the Chapel Beauty Show: Thou shalt pay the dolls, thou shalt respect the dolls, thou shalt pamper, thou shalt protect, thou shalt uplift, thou shalt feed, thou shalt love, thou shalt comfort, thou shalt praise, and thou shalt worship the dolls! At your first show you might think the captivating trio of hosts Miss He, Ivy, and Minty are the dolls in question. However, the Chapel Beauty Show is bigger than them. The show was meant to be and has become a sanctuary for all the Black trans dolls of East Atlanta and beyond. With the recent closing of the Chapel Beauty Show’s venue, Noni’s Deli, the dolls are in need of a new sanctuary. Miss He, Ivy, and Minty sat down with Georgia Voice to discuss their year of growth and success, the congregation they do it for, and the search for a new home.

The Chapel Beauty Show could still be considered fairly new, having come together for the first show in July 2022. However, the show has established itself as a cornerstone of the community. Chapel Beauty finished a very close runner-up for Wussy Magazine’s Peachies award for Favorite Drag Show while not yet a year old, and the team had seven nominations overall. It would not be a stretch to say that almost every show this year has been a hit. The 420 show, Mother’s Day, Juneteenth, The Roast of Miss He, and the Pride Day Party were just a few examples of the array of shows that have left a lasting impression on the year. It has been clear that what Chapel has to offer is what the community has needed.

Early in 2022, Miss He was the reigning Misc. Edgewood pageant winner, and Noni’s Deli was interested in having her host a recurring show there. She did not want to be the host of just another show; she wanted the show to have a purpose.

“There would be no drag without Black trans people,” Miss He said, and spaces had not been holding Black trans people on the pedestal that they deserved.

At around the same time, Minty was speaking out and ruffling some feathers in the community and was very possibly on the way to getting blackballed from the scene. As drag was reemerging in the wake of the pandemic, Minty had been the victim of bookings falling through and struggling to get a callback. Anyone who has seen Minty perform knows that she has the talent, and she was already popular for her mugs. She noticed some people were not experiencing these same difficulties and could not figure out why, so she spoke up. A few rants on Instagram and an open letter to the community highlighted some issues she was seeing in the scene. What seemed to be favoritism and a lack of adequate opportunities for new performers was stagnating the scene with the same faces from month to month. According to her, the people who needed to hear the message got it — “hit dogs will holler,” as Minty says.

During this time, Ivy was blowing people away on stage. Miss He was at Ivy’s first-ever show back in December of 2018 at Star Bar and says Ivy was amazing people from the start. The two of them were throwing around names while on the way back to Atlanta after a vacation together, and Chapel Beauty stuck. The show was named after the popular Decatur beauty supply store of the same name, where Miss He says “a doll becomes a doll. It’s a very magical place.” This would turn out to be a perfect inspiration for the community staple they wanted to build.

Chapel is far from the only place to find the dolls, but it is the home base. While Atlanta is a very Black city, the East Atlanta drag scene is predominantly white. This is not to say there are no other Black shows; the Chapel trio is thankful for the shows that have been established before theirs, such as Neon Black, the first show Miss He ever did in Atlanta. The three needed to emphasize the Blackness of the show as a statement, a show they say that was, “for us by us … rooted in authentic Blackness.”

Chapel has become a space for the dolls to feel like stars when they are in the room, on stage, or in the crowd.

“In the year that we’ve had Chapel established … I have seen so many girls getting their flowers,” Ivy said. She has also seen more Black trans girls out at the shows, and she attributes this to not having always felt like there was a space out there that was totally theirs.

“There was not always a reason to show up and show out,” she said.

After having such a big year, Chapel is looking to expand and grow even more in 2024. They are looking forward to branching out beyond putting on shows, becoming more of a multifaceted brand like Southern Fried Queer Pride, and leaning more into their mutual aid and community building works. In 2023, they partnered with the cast of Amen: It’s a Drag Show at Sister Louisa’s for a Trans Day of Visibility fundraiser. Just recently, Chapel partnered with Spark Reproductive Justice for Trans Day of Resistance, Resilience, and Remembrance to raise funds for abortion access and trans health care.

The Spark show was the first Chapel Beauty Show since the closing of Noni’s Deli, and the turnout was proof that the congregation is ready to travel wherever the show lands — but to have the huge 2024 that is possible, the dolls will need a permanent home. The standard was set very high at Noni’s (as high as its ceilings).

“Noni’s was unmatched … they truly cared about what we were doing and creating a comfortable, safe space for us,” Ivy said.

They also want to have the space to sustain more “growth and elevation.”

“We’re resilient and we grow and we get better and Chapel is no different,” Miss He said.

The three are certain that wherever they end up, they will be able to make magic happen for everyone involved.

The trio will be hosting a brand new Christmas Brunch at BrewDog Atlanta on Sunday, December 17 at noon. Follow them on Instagram @chapelbeautyshow. When you make it to a show, make sure you don’t forget the chant: “B-E-A-UTYYYYYYY!!!!!”