Drag Race hall-of-famer and recording artist Trixie Mattel just wandered into her latest, unexpected venture: the drag star has bought out This Is It!, her favorite gay bar from her Milwaukee upbringing.
Though she now lives in Los Angeles, Mattel (real name Brian Frikus) grew up in the Milwaukee suburbs. Visiting This Is It! at the tender age of 21 turned out to be a formative experience for Mattel, as she started developing her drag persona thereafter. Now she’s showing gratitude to the 53-year-old establishment by acquiring the bar in hopes of keeping it afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. This Is It! is reportedly Milwaukee’s oldest continually-running gay bar.
“A lot of drag queens made This Is It! our happy hour moment before we had to put on the wig and go do the drag show,” Mattel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “My relationship is such that sometimes I will come from General Mitchell [Milwaukee’s airport] to the bar with my bags. … It really is like the Cheers in Milwaukee. I met some of my lifelong best friends there.”
Mattel joins proprietor George Schneider as co-owner of This Is It!. The pair hope that with Mattel’s notoriety, the venue will become something of a destination bar for tourists. Mattel also added that she plans to add performance engagements at the bar to help boost business.
“It will elevate the bar’s recognition on a larger scale, and even for people here locally,” Schneider told the Journal Sentinel. “Trixie has roots here in Wisconsin, and made good on all of her talent and ability, and still recognizes the value not just of her hometown, but the places she holds close that are also near and dear to their hearts.”
Mattel’s actions come at a delicate time for LGBTQ-owned and targeted businesses. Establishments all over the country have shuttered due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which blocks patrons from gathering in large groups.
“In 2020, it’s been thrown in our faces that queer spaces can disappear like that,” Mattel told the Journal Sentinel. “And it really makes you think this is a really valuable service we are providing, not just to the community, but to humanity. People need this. They really do.”