Drag debut: Boone Barbies kick off series of events at Lily’s


Amena Matcheswala

Boone Barbie Willow putting on a show to Selena Gomez’s “Slow Down” at Lily’s on Sept. 11, 2022.

Amena Matcheswala, Reporter

Lily’s Snack Bar, located at 455 Blowing Rock Road, kicked off an upcoming surge of drag events in Boone. Sunday’s debut drag brunch, hosted by the Boone Barbies, consisted of the founding drag queens Benadryl and Molly Pocket. However, the show didn’t stop with just those two stars. The Boone Barbies were accompanied by performers from Haus of Liqueur, another drag group based in Boone. 

The hosts were joined by performers Lady Somerset, Willow, Chérie Cola, Lil Tito, Justin Thyme and Yutell Mi. Each performer expanded their act with multiple songs of varying genres and corresponding outfit changes.

“I saw a lot of really stunning makeup and outfits, which was just amazing,” audience member and sophomore art education major Maxwell Wallace said.

As the preliminary drag brunch at Lily’s, performers used this event to set a precedent for future events. The event revealed the Barbies’ drag brunches featured setlists from widely ranging genres, including renditions of songs from Paramore’s “Misery Business” to Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”

“It’s really the customers and the people that do things like drag that build the bar,” said Stephanie Holt, social media coordinator and event planner for Lily’s. “We just showed up and had a bar. The people made it what it is, and drag has been a huge part of that.”

Audience members were given opportunities to interact with the performers as well. Those who were new to the drag scene were pulled on stage and marked with a large red V on their cheeks to indicate their “virginity.”

“They called me up on stage because this is my first ever drag show. So they said, ‘Oh yeah, you get the virgin mark. Are you okay with me writing on your face?’ I said ‘Yes, please do that.’ and so I got the mark,” audience member Delta McCalister said.

Soon after, audience members were called up to participate in trivia, with questions ranging from Kardashian exes to the roots of Madonna’s Vogueing. Two lucky winners were invited to have a dance-off, giving members of the audience opportunities to show their love for drag by dipping their feet in for a taste of what it’s like on stage. Many queer audiences present, including Wallace, expressed excitement at getting a taste of the growth of drag in Boone. 

“I love that the scene is expanding in Boone right now. It’s really awesome. I come from a bigger city so in my hometown there’s a lot more gay bars, drag shows and stuff like that, so to still have little pockets of that community up here is really awesome,” Wallace said.

Bringing a stage to a snack bar was a fresh challenge for the folks at Lily’s, Holt said. While they couldn’t bring a stage into a space so small, organizers and performers still found a way to fit all the extravagance of drag and all those eager to participate into the space, utilizing a twisting runway leading to the outdoor seating section of the restaurant. 

“We hope to expand, and have two extra speakers outside and essentially use our porch as a stage area, assuming that the weather cooperates,” Holt said. 

Sunday’s show was only the beginning of a new series of drag events in 2022. The brunch was part of an effort to bring more queer-friendly spaces and events to Boone. 

“It’s always exciting performing, but seeing how many people come to feel safe and have a space is amazing,” said co-host Molly Pocket. 

The Barbies’ collaboration with Lily’s began in 2021 and started with drag nights once or twice a semester limited to those 21 and over, Holt said. However, this year brings opportunities for younger audiences to get excited about drag, as well as exploratory events such as open mic nights for those who might want to try their hand at drag. The Barbies informed audiences this year will also see a rise in events hosted by the Barbies based at Lily’s. 

“Every time we have a show, it just makes me feel a little bit more secure in what we’re doing,” said co-host Benadryl.