Darcelle XV, you’ve been performing for 51 years and are in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the Oldest Performing Drag Queen in the World. How have things changed since you opened your doors in 1967?
Darcelle XV: The rent then was $200 a month! Really, things have changed so much. Back then we weren’t that popular outside the gay community. Now, no matter where we go, we’re welcomed and accepted. Thank goodness. We would never want to go back. In those early years, we were trying to get equal rights, but the rights they offered were special rights. We wanted equal rights. And now we have that.
How has the business thrived for so long?
Poison Waters: As Darcelle XV said, we are so welcomed in the world now, and the reverse of that is true too. Darcelle XV has never turned anyone away. No matter who you are, what you’re celebrating, whatever your beliefs. The heartbeat of the club is that we’re so welcoming. When you walk through that door, the world is left on Third Avenue. We’re here in our magical bubble. I’ve been here since 1990 and I think, how did all of these decades pass away in the blink of an eye? Just from having a great time.
What do you see for the future?
Darcelle XV: More of the same. Let me tell you a story, one night I was working the runway, and five ladies were sitting here and I said to one of them, as I do, “beautiful bahumbas, darling.” And her friends looked at me like I had hit her. It turned out it was her first night out after her double mastectomy. They saw she was smiling and laughing, and they said to me, “my god, we didn’t think she’d ever smile again.” That’s the kind of thing we can do.
Poison Waters: That kind of unintentional, sincere kindness, happiness and humor, it just transcends anything. And we add a little glitz along the way.
Darcelle XV: A little glitz never hurts!