Queens of Culpeper

Richmond-based drag queen Bianca Blake Starr at Jackleg in Culpeper.

Wigs, makeup, rhinestones and lip-syncing are what’s in store for attendees of Culpeper’s most successful and seemingly underrepresented entertainment gig.

“I was expecting to not be received very well, but at every (Culpeper) venue that we’ve worked at, the people have probably been some of the best crowds that I’ve had in all of the different cities that I work in,” said Richmond-based drag queen Bianca Blake Starr. “I’ve worked all over the country and, I have to say, it is one of the most receiving cities that I have worked in.”

Drag queen shows under the direction of Starr have been popping up around Culpeper for nearly a year.

Starr and Jackleg co-owner Gina Rivas met a few years ago when another queen had asked Starr to join her at a show at Noodleheads, a now closed restaurant at 201 S East St., where Rivas was the DJ.

After Noodleheads closed and Jackleg opened in September 2020, Rivas reached out to Starr to bring drag back to Culpeper.

“She reached out and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a venue. I’d love to start something and see how it goes,’” Starr recalled.

Starr, who was recently crowned Miss Pride Virginia 2022, and husband, Kevin Jones, are the owners of the Queens of Culpeper and have recently decided to expand their venture into an entertainment company called Dominion Divas Entertainment.

After signing on with Jackleg last year, their inaugural Fourth of July show completely sold out, sparking Rivas's interest in hosting the queens once a month.

“It just got so popular after about six months, we started doing the double seating,” Starr said.

“It kind of took off from there.”

Starr got her start over a decade ago in Richmond when a local bar heard her sing karaoke “as a boy” and invited her back to sing live. When she showed up in street clothes, she noticed everyone was dressed up.

“When I got there, I was like, ‘Why are all these women done up in all this makeup and costuming?’” she recalled. “And then I realized they were all men.”

After some styling, she did her first performance in drag.

After traveling around the country performing, Starr said, Culpeper is one of the most accepting and enthusiastic areas.

Despite receiving push back from some online when announcing shows, Starr said, fans come back harder to defend them.

“From day one, we’ve had support,” she said. “The amount of uproar the community does to defend us is unbelievable. That’s why I’ve continued to come back.”

Show attendees, she continued, range widely from man-woman couples to families to members of the LGBTQI+ community.

The shows at Jackleg at 110 East Davis St. are held the first Saturday of every month, usually beginning at 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The girls can also be found at Fraternal Order of Eagles Culpeper #4551 on Brandy Road every three months and brunches at Rixey Manor beginning the weekend of June 11.

To celebrate the show’s first anniversary, the queens will again host a Fourth of July show on July 2.

Starr said shows are a mixture of all types of drag entertainment like lip syncing and comedy.

“We like to get away from the norm, and make fun of each other and make light of all the terrible things that are going on in the world right now,” she said.

Culpeper, she continued, has favored some queens including London Lestrange, Stacy Monique-Max and Avalanche Brentwood.

maria@culpepertimes.com

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