I HAVE BEEN A DRAG PERFORMER IN NYC FOR FIVE YEARS. I HAVE ALSO HAD THE FABULOUS OPPORTUNITY TO SPREAD MY (LEGS) TALENT IN MANY OTHER COUNTRIES, BUT NEVER IN ALL OF THE MANY FACADES I HAVE PAINTED ON HAVE I COME ACROSS A PLACE WITH AS MUCH HEART AS BOOTS AND SADDLE.
I started working at Boots and Saddle as a DJ almost a year ago. At the time the bar was already filled with fun and fresh drag, but in the past year I have watched the owner, Robert Zigler, literally tear down and rebuild this bar into a show palace. It’s rare that you find a bar owner who pays as much attention to his venue as Robert. He is there every day, working to make sure the place is run well, and all the queens and clientele are happy. In fact, I think that he has probably asked me “Are
you happy, Honey?” at least 10 times a week.
Robert serves as a father figure over this little place that many of us call home in the West Village, but with over 20 drag queens on the payroll it’s no surprise that he has relied on the wonderfully talented Victoria Chase to be our house mother. Victoria Chase is the queen of karaoke and the queen of a good time. She was the first queen Robert hired six years ago. She started with just one karaoke night and has since transformed this bar into an eclectic drag paradise, where at any point of the day you can stop in and see a wide variety of performers: from the Judy and Liza impersonations of my M’lady Uppercrust to the sharp-tongued, high-sass humor of Misty Meaner. Victoria keeps the queens fresh and on their game by providing the love and structure needed to make this family work.
Recently Robert asked me to join his cast of queens as a performer, not just a DJ. I have to say, while there is nothing like slinging tunes and talking trash with a Cherra Secret and Yuhua Hamasaki, my favorite times at Boots are my Monday happy hour show from 6-8 p.m. and our Saturday bingo show with Delilah Brooks and yours truly. When I take the stage at Boots I am surrounded by the love of our regulars. I am surprised at how even tourists come in and jump right in on the good time, and I am sincerely blessed to be a part of an establishment that has kept drag, in all its varieties, alive and vivacious.
So, New York, it’s been a minute since I shared something for you to get into. But, if you haven’t discovered this little gem, that’s home to fabulous drag queens, fresh fried chicken wings (my personal favorite) and really freaking lowpriced booze, I suggest you giddy up to the bar and mount yourself a place in the Boots and Saddle family.
AND THERE SHE IS, WALKING ON AIR, SHE IS FAIREST OF THE FAIR, SHE IS THERE, SHE IS – MISS BOOTS AND SADDLE: YUHUA HAMASAKI!
After competing in the pageant for five years, the one and only Yuhua Hamasaki snatched the title of Miss Boots and Saddle this year. I caught up with the jump-splitting, glamorous, hardworking Chinese princess of the West Village to get her opinion on the bar she has worked at for four years and the title she was finally been able to win this year.
You did the miss Boots and Saddle pageant for five years. What kept you coming back?
I entered pageant for five consecutive years, and I never gave up on it because it was my home bar. I started there, and it would be meaningless if I continued working there and do not hold a title there. It is also to keep pushing myself to be better the next following year and be the best that I can be.
What do you think you biggest strengths are?
I can swallow swords, juggle up to six newborn babies at a time in the air and do the “Gangnam Style” choreography over a pool of fire.
What’s your favorite thing about Boots and Saddle?
It is in the heart of where gay pride started, right on Christopher Street! Within its neighboring radius, there are multiple venues for people to hop to, including The Stonewall Inn, Pieces, The Cubbyhole, etc.
If you could change one thing about Boots, what would it be?
Expansion! But I guess that’s out of the question. But wait! We can always glue more chairs and tables to the ceiling for customers to sit, right?
You have been at Boots and Saddle for four years. What contribution has that bar made to your drag?
Where do I even start?! It is the first venue that gave me my first show, and I was just a baby drag back then. I guess that should tell anybody how much they have contributed, which is A LOT!
Describe your show at Boots and Saddle in three words?
Midnight, free, COME!
What kind of a crowd do you get at Boots?
The type of crowd that loves to have a good time and sometimes thinks I’m a real woman!
What responsibilities do you have as Miss Boots and Saddle?
Do not make a sex tape…sometimes I even have to be cautious too when I pose for my modeling agency, Instagram.
Describe your favorite Boots and Saddle moment?
When the owner, Robert, showed up for my birthday in 2013 and during my opening performance, she came up to the stage with a bouquet of flowers with 100 $1 bills all circling the flowers inside…and yes, I counted!
What advice would you have for queens looking for work at Boots or a queen looking to snatch that title next year?
We’re not hiring. JUST KIDDING! Be nice, be humble, be yourself! “WOW” THEM! And to someone looking to enter next year’s pageant, make sure you sleep with the correct judges!
BOOTS & SADDLE
76 Christopher St. New York, NY 10014