Perry’s Drag Queen Brunch
All you can eat brunch with a side of humiliation is served every Sunday at Perry’s in Adams Morgan.
The Perry’s drag queen brunch experience is one of those events that I’ve heard about and been urged to attend for years, but never found the motivation to go. Perry’s is located at 1811 Columbia Road, near Calvert Street. The restaurant’s name isn’t visible from the street; instead, 1811 on the awning and a line down the sidewalk are the indicators. It’s a considerable time commitment with time spent walking across Duke Ellington bridge from the Woodley Park metro, waiting to be seated, and then enduring a long brunch and show.
Perry’s doesn’t accept reservations for brunch because they clearly don’t need to. The line usually forms at 9:45 am for a 10:30 am seating. Sunday when I went – the day after DC’s first snowfall – was brisk and windy. Thankfully, I was with a group determined to have brunch so they arrived extra early to wait in line. Perry’s would make so much extra money if they allowed guests to wait inside at the bar and defrost.
Brunch runs from 10:30 am – 2:30 pm, with two seatings and two shows. If you’re unable to arrive that early, wait for the second showing at 1:00 pm. The line for the next group was fortunately permitted to wait indoors on the stairwell. Perry’s doesn’t seat incomplete parties so be certain that you don’t wait in vain and instead use the 45 minutes until doors open to assemble your party.
I haven’t been to many drag queen events (in fact, I reported about my second experience ever on this blog), but Perry’s was by far the most interactive and amusing.
Come hungry – pre fixe brunch is steep at $23 for two underwhelming buffet-sized tables. A pitcher of mimosas sets you back $30. In addition, the performers remind you to tip them well “so we don’t have to resort to prostitution.”
The eclectic buffet goes from breakfast, lunch, and dinner with granola, home fries, various breakfast meats, and fruits then switching to sushi, dumplings, meat soups, and macaroni. The scrambled eggs – usually the worst pick at buffets – and blueberry muffins were my favorites. Getting promptly through the buffet line for warm food is another reason to get in line early. Since my group was the second in line to be seated, we had the best choices from the buffet. By the time we were done eating and contemplating the next round, some people were still in line awaiting their chance at a first plate.
But Perry’s isn’t special to DC for the food, it’s special for the show.
Three queens make a stage out of narrow space between tables, becoming characters and kissing, mocking, groping, dancing on, or serenading guests. I knew that someone’s hand had been shockingly guided south by the shrieks and nervous laughter. One of the drag queens removed a straight guy’s shirt and sweater and waved them around the restaurant like a victorious flag (He retrieved it at the end of the song wearing a woman’s fleece jacket).
Their costumes were outrageous in size, either oversized skirts and teased wigs or skimpy beaded skirts and bandage-sized nipple pasties. The ladies strutted in 5” heels and lip-synched to pop music, eliciting gasps with each grand entrance. Lady Gaga – aptly rumored to be a sexually confused – was worthy of imitation twice. Jennifer Lopez’s infamous green Versace dress made an appearance. Some of the boobs were “real,” some were fake, all the legs were enviously toned.
Like DC, the crowd’s demographic was mixed: gay men, straight men, college students, middle-aged women, Hispanics and South Asians. My table of five, nicely dressed, nondescript women must have been too boring for the DQ’s because we barely got any attention. Instead, they swarmed toward the long table of attractive young men, the attractive straight men in groups of all women, and the loudest table of spunky women. We schemed practical jokes of bringing trusting friends here for brunch and withholding details of the scheduled drag show.
What is it about a drag queen brunch that draws birthday celebrations? About nine people, all women, came to the front when the queen bee called out for all the celebrants. She asked each person for their birthday wishes, telling those who wanted cars/jewelry/money to get herself a rich boyfriend fast and suggesting that an embarrassed birthday girl who said that she was just happy to be visiting from Canada should instead wish for a boob enhancement like her own.
One dimension of authentic DC might be in line here at Perry’s in Adams Morgan. Locals and visitors, standing in line outside in the cold weather sipping coffee to stay warm before getting inside to drink more coffee, in an effort to eat an overpriced breakfast and see one of the most entertaining local acts. Is DC home to any other drag brunches?
Filed under: Adams Morgan, Brunch | 9 Comments