by Ed Williams
The LGBTQ community has always been synonymous with the camp and comedy of drag. And with all the political rhetoric flooding our collective television and social media feeds — we need to laugh more than ever now—in ways that promote unity, safety, camaraderie and just plain enjoying a good time with others.
Two West Chester restaurants — Split Rail Tavern and Sprout Music Collective — play pivotal roles in providing the stage for the most raucous entertainment the ‘burbs has seen this side of Rupaul and the two venues have welcomed the drag community with open arms.
Drag queen hostesses Roxanne Rohls and Ophelia Hotass orchestrate participants in “Off the Rail Karaoke” on Tuesday evenings and “Drag Me to the Wheel” on Wednesday evenings, which not only benefit audiences, but local businesses get customers in during the week.
Roxanne (who’s been queening locally for about five years) emits a sense of classic nostalgia on the stage with grace, poise and a subtle sarcasm that can playfully slice you in two. “Sometimes things just spill out of my mouth—but it’s all harmless fun,” notes Rohls. “We have a great team of professionals who make sure that everyone is included in having a great time.”
Ophelia’s character (newer at three years in the business) contrasts with explosive hair, vibrant makeup, a huge derriere and a splendiferousness aura that energizes an audience. “I love to shock people. To push the envelope while welcoming diversity. This is my true creative outlet.” she notes while indicating that she sews her own lustrous ensembles and has an addiction to fabric.
When asked what type of audience typically follows the dramatic duo, Rohls promises, “We create a space that’s safe and inclusive for all. Our audiences run the gamut with straight, gay, black, white at all ages.” Ophelia adds that “We cater to the attitude of those we entertain while bringing all the best parts of our personas to the mix.”
Challenges for the ladies include reading the audience (“it’s different every time”), creating cohesive themes of makeup, wardrobe and of course the shaving (an average of two to five hours in prep). But the end results are inclusive events that provide a feel-good experience to both the community and the businesses of West Chester.
The twosome have hosted successful benefit performances (sometimes including special guest stars) to raise funds for LGBTQ causes and promise to do more when possible. They are also open to taking their show on the road if approached. Follow Roxanne and Ophelia on facebook for up to the minute information.