Looking for Funday Sunday entertainment to deal with your Saturday night hangover? Head to Denver Milk Marketor every Sunday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., you’ll find the charismatic host, Shirley Delta Blow, hosting a jaw-dropping Drag Brunch. What better way to start your Sunday than with amazing food, bottomless mimosas, bingo and shows that will have you and your friends dancing and smiling from ear to ear?
While putting together the Milk Market Drag Brunch – which began in 2019 – was undoubtedly a group effort, a huge amount of credit goes to the drag queen and Milk Market brunch host, Shirley Delta Blow — the big city car with small-town dreams.
“Have you met her?” said the chef, restaurateur and founder of Denver Milk Market, Frank Bonanno. “Shirley is an artist. She is captivating and vibrant and once you’ve encountered it or had brunch there and experienced it, that’s what makes you want to come back. I don’t know what to say other than, she’s awesome!
Shirley’s journey into the world of drag began when she started performing in the Colorado Gay Volleyball Association over a decade ago. To raise funds to help finance the organization, the team decided to organize a big fundraising contest. Although Shirley had never done drag in this type of setting before, her experience in theater plus a little nudge from her teammates gave her the confidence she needed to take on the contest – and she didn’t. did not disappoint.
“Turns out I won the contest, and that kind of started me down that path,” Shirley said.
Not only was the fundraising event significant because Shirley walked away with the gold, but also because it was the place where she solidified her drag name, Shirley Delta Blow.
“For my talent in the contest, I told the story of Steel Magnolias in four minutes using Barbie dolls as all the characters,” Shirley explained. “I wanted to be that kind of real Southern woman. We started talking about Mississippi, Mississippi Delta, Delta Work and Delta Birch. These are names that are sort of out there, and then I was like, ‘oh, Delta Blow.’ And then it’s like, ‘oh, she got hit, she’s had a tough life.’ But of course, a Southern woman must have three names, Shirley Delta Blow. That’s where it all comes from,” she said.
From doing one show every three to four months to now doing two to three shows a week, Shirley has continued to grow steadily and make a name for herself within Denver’s drag communities.
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“I just want everyone to have a really positive experience,” Shirley said. “We’re having a lot of positive fun, uplifting humor and a great time playing bingo and celebrating everyone here together.” For her, drag is about expression.
“What I love about drag is that it takes my personality and then elevates it to 11. I’m a happy, positive, fun-loving person, but when I dress in Shirley, we’re increasing that,” she said. “I also think it’s really fun because everyone has a smile on their face when a drag queen arrives.
Many think Denver’s drag scene is a fantastic place because its trajectory somehow mimics the growth and diversity of the city itself.
“Denver’s drag scene is varied and diverse; there are all kinds of different things going on,” Shirley said. “A lot of people who do and perform drag are really pushing the boundaries of gender roles and becoming more mainstream with what we’re doing.”
According to Shirley, there are over 300 drag performers living and working in the Denver area. Having such a prevalence of drag in Denver is significant not only because it illuminates the seemingly bleak circumstances of our world, but also because it offers members of the LGBTQ community a safe place to live.
“I think a deeper message to [Milk Market’s] Drag brunch and drag shows is that queer people are welcome and accepted. And the more places there are where queer people feel welcome to be themselves, the better our world will be,” Shirley said.
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One of Shirley’s favorite mottos is “I love this story”. For her, this motto or mantra is about being authentic and appreciating each person’s unique story and what they have to offer.
“We can be ourselves and we can be really authentic. I love the story that you are, that you tell, that your life is,” Shirley said. “And I think for the queer community, especially for queer youth, it’s important to know that there are people here who have lived life, who have been authentic, who are proud and who contribute to society. .”
Speaking specifically to the LGBTQ community, Shirley said, “These are your people. We are here to support you, love you, defend you and fight for you. Yes, we are all of those things.
For those who are not queer or part of the LGBTQ community but attend queer events such as Drag Brunch, Shirley emphasized how crucial it is to stand up when something is wrong.
“For people who are not part of the queer community who come to queer events, it is important that if you come to a queer event where a drag performer is and you have a good time, when you go out in your daily life you need
stand up when there is hate being spit in the world. You must vote for queer or progressive candidates who will support queer people in the legislature,said Shirley. “We need to make sure that we take this beautiful energy from queer brunches or queer shows around the world and stand up for queer people everywhere.”
Next time you and your friends are looking for an insanely exciting Sunday brunch, be sure to stop by Denver’s Milk Marker for bites to die for, all the mimosas you can drink, prizes from bingo galore and the show of a lifetime presented by the one and only Shirley Delta Blow – it’s an experience that is sure to have a lasting effect and one that also supports Denver’s drag and LGBTQ communities.
All photographs by Joy Weinbergunless otherwise stated.