It was a racially charged weekend at Manhattan’s Monster bar where drag queen Honey Davenport — long a featured entertainer at the club — called out manager Italo Lopez over a series of text messages insisting the image of a black man be replaced with a photo of “a beautiful man.”
No sooner did the altercation hit social media than Lopez’ superiors announced they had “accepted” his resignation and immediately put in place plans for diversity sensitivity training for the entire staff of the spot.
The brouhaha couldn’t have had a more high profile setting: the weekend of RuPaul’s triumphant return to New York for DragCon with an Emmy for best reality show not even two weeks old sitting on the mantle and Manhattan flooded with visiting drag queens and their fans all looking to carry the fun of their convention experience out into the city and its nightclubs.
Add to that Monster’s location: It’s situated across the street from the country’s only park dedicated to LGBTQ inclusivity — and directly across the street behind that park sits the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the struggle for gay equality.
The showdown with Lopez began over a flyer to promote an upcoming event, according to the drag queen. To support her claim, she posted screen shots of text exchanges with the now-former manager. Lopez complained the flyers for an upcoming show appeared to be promoting a “black night,” which would be “not good for the businesses.”
Davenport used what she thought might be her last appearance on the Monster stage to call Lopez out. “I can’t do this anymore,” she told the startled crowd. “If you don’t want my people at the party, I won’t be there.” Trembling with emotion, but clearly resolute, a video of the moment shows her extending her arm, dropping the mic and exiting the stage.
Once the fracas hit social media, Monster owner Charlie Rice posted that the Monster ownership were “deeply upset as to how the language used in the recent text messages that came to light on social media miscommunicates our strong belief in community and diversity. We at The Monster are not going to make excuses.”
As a gesture of good faith, he says the bar will require all staff members to take part in racial sensitivity training. “When any member of our staff does or says something insensitive,” Rice posted, “we know it reflects on all of us.”
Rice concludes by saying that Lopez’ resignation has been accepted and that he, on behalf of the club, is sorry. “I can’t take away any of the negative feelings you may have about us as a result of this situation,” he stated, “but I can promise that it does not represent us in the past, present or future. We will use this experience to grow and ensure our words, our behavior and our advertising represent us all.”
Is the incident over? No, it appears to be in flux. There’s no word yet of whether Honey Davenport plans to return to the bar now that changes have been implemented. And both haters and defenders have entered the skirmish on the Facebook pages of the club and the queen.
It bears pointing out that we are now 49 years past the Stonewall riots, and less than a year from celebrating World Pride in New York City.
Last modified: October 2, 2018