Racism's a Drag

Nightclubs rush to apologize following ‘Drag Race’ racism scandal

The Court. Via Facebook

Two nightclubs in Australia have issued apologies following a series of scandals involving Drag Race Down Under contestants Karen from Finance and Scarlet Adams last week. Spokespeople for the venues have issued statements disavowing use of blackface and other instances of cultural insensitivity in drag performances.

The Court Hotel in Perth posted a statement to Facebook reaffirming its commitment to offering a space for LGBTQ people of all races and backgrounds, as well as apologizing for hosting a blackface performance by Adams.

“We acknowledge the historic images shared on social media of Scarlet Adams and other performers here at The Court have offended people,” the statement read. “Whilst we did not specify the content of the shows, we do take responsibility for allowing them to happen on our stage almost a decade ago and we unreservedly apologise for any offense caused by any performance at the venue that has not been culturally appropriate.”

Related: Two ‘Drag Race’ queens hit with allegations of racism

“The management team have worked with the drag queens to ensure that racist and culturally inappropriate shows do not happen again on our stage,” The Court statement further assured. An update also dispelled rumors that Adams had been booked to perform at the venue again.

Meanwhile, Connections Nightclub, another queer venue in Perth reissued an apology from July 2020 disavowing racially insensitive performances.

“We want to apologise to the community as we deconstruct these ugly parts of our past and recognize the historical institutionalized privilege that we carry at the expense of the BIPOC community,” the statement said. “The use of blackface and the mockery of the Aboriginal community and flag is abhorrent to us as a business and inclusive venue. Whilst the individual involved was asked to leave and suspended from shifts, we must acknowledge that this took place in our venue and a person presenting in such a derogatory and offensive way should never have been allowed to cross our threshold.”

The club also apologized for allowing the use of different Asian cultures–including China, Japan and India–as themes for drag night.

We need today to reiterate our statement (below) made last year as we reflect on a particularly unpleasant series of…

Posted by Connections Nightclub on Thursday, March 18, 2021

“We hope that the wider community can come forth and recommend community leaders or organizational bodies that we can engage in dialogue as we seek to educate ourselves, our staff and our patronage and show that we want to be consistent in heading towards a future of more diverse representation and education of the cultures of those we have hurt,” the statement concluded.

The apologies follow mea-culpa posts by Karen from Finance and Scarlet Adams last week, both of whom were called out for racist and culturally insensitive performances in the past. The use of blackface and other racist imagery in their performances came to light following the announcement that both queens would compete on the inaugural season of Drag Race Down Under.