Shirley Q. Liquor's Racist Scum

Ban ugliness from Miami Beach.

When drag queen Shirley Q. Liquor takes the spotlight at this weekend's Exxxotica convention in Miami Beach, she will say something like this to her audience: "I'm gonna burn me up some chitlins and put some ketchup on there and aks Jesus to forgive my sins."

The muumuu-clad, garishly made-up queen might also make references to "Kmark," "Egg McMuffmans," her "gynechiatrist," and "goin' to the store for some collard greens, ham hocks, and cheese." And she'll likely purr her trademark greeting — "How you durrrin'?" — and sing a song called "Who Is My Baby Daddy?"

Here's the thing: Shirley Q. Liquor is a black character played by a gay white man — in blackface paint — named Charles Knipp. African-American activists throughout the nation have protested the modern-day minstrel act, and performances have been canceled in Hollywood, Atlanta, Boston, Hartford, and New York. More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition, at www.banshirleyqliquor.typepad.com, demanding that Knipp cease his stage show for good.

"I just don't think it's appropriate for him to be making fun ... of someone's race," says Jasmyne Cannick, a Los Angeles-based writer and blogger who started the petition. "When I look at that character, I see grandmothers, great-grandmothers who struggled."

So far there's been little buzz in Miami. Exxxotica spokesman Woody Graber refused to answer questions regarding Knipp's act. He says the convention will "showcase a wide variety of exhibitors, seminars, and attendees who embrace alternative lifestyles and ... enjoy a multitude of personal pleasures. Although all may not be of one mind, at Exxxotica we all agree to not pass judgment."

But when New Times told Liberty City activist Rev. Richard Dunn about the upcoming show and e-mailed him video clips of Knipp's act, he hatched a plan to mobilize protesters and bring it up on a Tuesday radio show he cohosts with Bishop Victor T. Curry on WMBM-AM (1490) at 9:30 a.m. "It shows that unfortunately racism is alive and well in America," Dunn says. "It shows that we are not serious or sensitive enough about the rights of everyone."

Knipp, who is 46 years old and lives in Kentucky, would not comment for this story. He grew up in Texas near the Louisiana border and is in many ways a typical rural Southern white boy; his classes were integrated when he was 11 years old, which is when he "fell in love with black people," he told the Lexington Herald Leader in March 2007. He's a registered nurse who volunteers at hospices and an ordained Quaker minister who performs same-sex marriages. He's also a donor to both the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and he claims not to be a racist. "I don't think that black people should be exempt from parody," he told the paper. "We should act like nothing is funny about any of them? That's a form of racism in itself."

He created the Shirley Q. Liquor character in the early Nineties, drawing on the speech patterns of his childhood nanny, who was African-American. He said the performance is an homage to strong black women and a way to break through the race barrier. "There are so many pent-up things that black people want to say to white people and vice versa, but we're all scared to death of offending each other," he said. He adds that many black people love his show.

Never mind that the character is on welfare, loves malt liquor, and has 19 "chirren" with names such as Cheeto, Orangello, Chlamydia, and Kmartina — Knipp insists he created Shirley "out of love." And possibly money. He told Rolling Stone in 2007 that he makes between $70,000 and $90,000 a year through stage shows and merchandise sales (a popular item: baby bibs that read "Inmate" or "Who is my daddy?")

Knipp's core audience is gay white men — the stage show was born in small Southern gay clubs. Locally the show is scheduled at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. The drag performance will be sandwiched between the "pillow fight league" act and the "screaming orgasm" contest.

Shirley Q. Liquor even has some well-known fans: CSI: Miami hired Knipp to perform the drag show for its wrap party, while hosts of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy frequently used Liquor's trademark query, "How you durrrin'?" on-air. "People really need to take a chill pill," singer and fellow drag queen RuPaul wrote on her blog. "Shirley Q. Liquor is so clearly coming from a place of love."

Unsurprisingly, black activists don't buy Knipp's — or his fans' — naiveté. Cannick is considering traveling to Miami Beach to protest Knipp's Exxxotica performance. She and other LA activists shut down one of Knipp's shows at a gay club in Hollywood in 2007. Around that time, CNN asked the pair to appear on television together. Cannick said Knipp refused to debate her. "If you have the balls to do what you do, why don't you have the nerve to debate a real black woman?" she fumes.

Mel Reeves, a black Miami activist, was insulted when shown a video clip of Shirley Q. Liquor portraying a stewardess for "Ebonics Airlines," in which the black-owned plane crashed from ineptitude. "That insinuates that black people can't run successful businesses. The fact that this person has a receptive audience is revealing. This wasn't funny to me."

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
38 comments
Benichols62
Benichols62

"I just don't think it's appropriate for him to be making fun ... of someone's race" You mean like when 2 black comedians dress up as 2 shallow WHITE CHICKS? Yeah.. I can't stand it either. I was so offended, I laughed through the entire movie! But then us crackers aren't as uptight as those of color... Obviously.

Orlyvazquez
Orlyvazquez

I'm sure Dunn and those same protesters claiming Knipp is a rascist protested Richard Pryor, chappelle and the Wayons when they paint themselves white and "act" like white people. Humanity, please get over your subjective rascism. We all have funny quirks, idioms and dialect that make us redreshingly different.

Changeagent
Changeagent

Get over it. Ethnicity and culture are two different things. Even liberals can be narrow minded. Check yourself!!!

Moo
Moo

Dem black ladies is akkin ignunt

Dlong831
Dlong831

Wow....wouldnt it seem better to stop being angry at each other and let the hatred die? We can go in for generation saying who did what. And with each one enfused with this belief we will ignorantly drive the walls between us. Are we not yet evolved enough to just be honest and say unfathomable. Ills were committed. I am of Irish decent and there is a uniquely different experience there yet no less powerful to those who died in the streets of New York, beaten to death and acquaintance to justice. We all have persecutions in our past. But isn't it time we let it all goes as a unique. afront. We all need to grow up and drop this shit! We need to realize that each of us have a unique and painful and brilliant and valueable history. What would our lives look like if we started truly being interested in each others experience instead of just our own. I believe that as long as we battle for this illusion of power and fear of losing we'll never get there. It seems like we are missing out on SO much of life's potential by digging our heels in the sand, self-righteously proclaiming how our cases are unique and different instead of just accepting that given any getting on about the business of being enthusiastic about those of others. It is not what a man believes, but how (Not why) he arrived at that belief that we uniquely have experienced.

BubbaT
BubbaT

Liberals are always chanting racism. Unless it's them doing it. Then it's ok and allowed. Howabout this? We outlaw Liberals and Liberal writers like this one. Because when it comes down to it they are the real modern day Nazi's.

Jeff Diaz
Jeff Diaz

But it's okay to make fun of white people and make a movie out of it like the Wayans Brothers did with White Chicks? When do we draw the line? White racism is okay but black racism isn't? Black men dressing up as blonde hair white woman is racist too, but nobody banned the movie, DVD, or anything else!

MasterJ
MasterJ

Would anybody be trying to ban this type of performance if the performer was actually a black woman?

Danrhon
Danrhon

I loves me some SQL! Hilarious stuff!

M. Allen Draper
M. Allen Draper

Parody always has the element of truth and in it. Some other cultural Parody is done by Jewish, Asian, White and Hispanic Comedians. Bobby Lee, George Lopez, Anjelah Johnson Phil Hendrie, Williams and Ree. Get a Grip! This stuff is funny!

Michaelstar
Michaelstar

I'm guessing a black woman wrote this artical.

A,M.C.
A,M.C.

As a member and supporter of the LGBTQ/Trans community and especially during Pride Week, I am astounded that is going on. Therefore, I am protesting racist and stereotypical Black Face acts of any sort in 2010 "Shirley Q. Liquor", an African-American woman, as “a welfare mother with nineteen kids who guzzles malt liquor, and drives a Caddy” on June 18th at Russian River Resort (RRR) http://www.russianriverresort....

I spoke ,to Author the Manger at Russian River Resort, and he gave me the typical response, Well, "RU Paul" supports this act and this act gives a lot of people pleasure... He said that many of people from all ethnic backgrounds bought ticket, blah blah blah. Some things never change, and racism is on the rise and is being reinforced in "Black Face" by this act at RRR... as they laugh at a characterless welfare mother called "Shirley Q. Liquor" acted out by a gay white man. Give me a break, this is Gay Pride month and this is the garbage people want to see in 2010?

Racism is on the rise, just look at the Southern Poverty LawHate Map | Southern Poverty Law Center website. Mr. Kipp says he is bringing attention to the plight of many African Americans, well is he working with the government or any major social change agency and helping with this issue? that would be fore effective than this garbage is spouting out and convincing people of all ethnicity's who are clueless to the major negative social ramifications that this act reinforces. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, he makes between $70k-$90k a year to do so.

I feel that this act is insulting, perpetuates negative stereotypes, and is troubling coming from the LGBTQ/Trans community which is supporting this racist/bigoted act. I don’t care of Ru Paul give his/her blessings, she/he does not speak for the entire African/POC community or the LGBTQ/Trans community. Please protest the appearance of "Shirley Q. Liquor" by Charles Knipp or at least do a story that offers an historical education as to why Black Face is aberrant and really triggers Racist practices in entertainment. In the past African/Blacks were excluded from the entertainment circuit (unless it was the Black Circuit) and whites were able to make fun of Blacks by doing this awful over exaggerated Black Face acts. At that time people thought these racist acts were normal. Well, racism in any shape of form from any side of the spectrum . . . is not socially acceptable. I would not want a Black making fun of whites in a negative sterotypical manner. It would be repulsive. I did not even like the Wayan Brothers (Director: Keenen Ivory Wayans. . . when they were in the silly movie "white chicks" and acting all valley-girl.

Contact Arthur, mgr to complain and protest this racist act.

Street address.16390 4th Street, Guerneville Ca. 95446Phone.707.869.0691 / 800.417.3767Fax.707.869.0698U.S. Mail.P.O. Box 2419 Guerneville, CA 95446Email.info@RussianRiverResort.com

Ban Shirley Q. Liquor petitionhttp://www.petitiononline.com/...

Bill J.
Bill J.

It's hard to be objective when the title of your article is "Shirley Q. Liquor's Racist Scum"! I can't believe this kind of thing passes for real journalism. And actually TELLING the Rev. So-And-So that she was performing in Miami, just to rile him up? You REPORT the news, you don't CREATE it for your story!

What about the movie "White Chicks"? Should be banned as well? Or is it only whites parodying other races that gets you upset? Do you not see the irony in calling for a ban on free speech from a free press?!

M.M.
M.M.

All ocmedians make fun or other groups, their own and stereotypes. Maybe the costume is a bit too much, also it's reminiscent of a minstrel show. Then agian, if Eddie Murphy were the comedian, thre wouldn't be any uproar.

Peter Persico
Peter Persico

People need to focus on thier children staying in school and off the streets.Cleaning up thier neighborhoods of gang activity.Black comedians make fun of other races as well,from Redd Fox to Bernie Mac.Im white and i could care less what is said about my race,most of the time I just find it funny anyways.Find something better to do than protest.Clean up your city,mentor a child,get involved with your childrens school,and chill out its going to be a hot long summer

steev mike
steev mike

Nice one for the New Times to create a story by showing the activists Shirley when she wasn't on the radar in the first place.

dalla
dalla

What do you think about the same-sex marriage? I have a friend getting married with the same sex under the help of the site biloves.com. And now they live very happily.

Roadgeek
Roadgeek

I was there at the beginning in Orange TX when Chuck was first honing his act; he was extremely popular in his hometown. As I grew up, I learned that there were many blacks; male and female; just like Shirley Q. Liquor. It would be real nice in some sort of perfect world for all black women to be like Oprah Winfrey or Condaleeza Rice; howewver a great many black women seem to have a lot of Shirley's characteristics. Chuck calls 'em like he seems 'em. Of course, that automatically makes him a racist.

Glenn61
Glenn61

Strange,,,I don't recall any outrage or cries of racism when Eddie Murphy made himself up in white guy make up, did the tight ass walk and secretly caught white people breaking out the booze and laughing it up as soon as the last black guy got off the bus to satire white ignorance in a skit on Saturday Night Live.

Nor do I recall any protest in the media from white professional men when Dave Chappelle did his hilarious white weather guy in the news room act.

Seems like there's a section of black folks in this country that need to lighten up and stop taking themselves so serious.

It's all about how their great grand father was a slave, or their third grade educated mother who started popping out one baby after another shortly after her sixteenth birthday had to clean rich white folk's houses.....BOO-HOOO-HOO.

It's the same shit one could here from any person with no sense of self worth,,,It's the "WE ALL GOT PROBLEMS, BUT MINE ARE THE ONLY IMPORTANT ONES" attitude.

I don't want to hear it,,,,all the fuckin cry babies can go die in a dumpster for all I care............I'm Glenn61,,,,Google my name bitch..!

Tamara Lush
Tamara Lush

Thank you all for commenting on this story. I appreciate your thoughtful feedback.As far as this story being plagiarized, it's simply not the case. I stated very clearly in the article when and where I quoted from other publications. I gave attribution when I quoted Shirley Q. Liquor's comments from other newspapers. That is not plagiarism -- look up the definition. Charles Knipp/Shirley Q. Liquor would not respond to an interview request from me.And, finally. Am I a real person? Or a fifth grader? Maybe you should Google my name to find out.

Rayovac Johnson
Rayovac Johnson

Duracell Jones,,, why don't you post a link here to the article so we can all check it out. Being vague in your references takes away from your credibility...bla-bla-bla

Duracell Jones
Duracell Jones

Anyone who reads this with a critical eye can tell immediately that this "article" was plagiarized, word for word, in its entirety, from:* The August 2007 issue of "Rolling Stone* "Wikipedia" * Jasmyne Cannick's weblog.

This begs the questions...

� What are the journalistic standards of the "Miami New Times?" (A 5th grader could have written this._ Is "Tamara Lush" an actual person or a pseudonym?

Beeker
Beeker

Don't we still live in the United States? He has the right to put on his show and say whatever he wants, and anyone who finds it offensive should just not buy a ticket! If our society gets anymore politically correct, we will have nothing to laugh at or make fun of!

Beeker
Beeker

Don't we still live in the United States? He has the right to put on his show and say whatever he wants, and anyone who finds it offensive should just not buy a ticket! If our society gets anymore politically correct, we will have nothing to laugh at or make fun of!

Glenn61 (Googole my name)
Glenn61 (Googole my name)

"Comment by Ben Patrick Johnson �I write from the bias of being a Shirley Q. fan. For the record, I'm also a white gay man.........Thank you. You may unplug your ears now."

YOU TELL 'EM BITCH...!,,,,,,,,,good job...LOL

Ben Patrick Johnson
Ben Patrick Johnson

I write from the bias of being a Shirley Q. fan. For the record, I'm also a white gay man. Judge, belittle or disqualify my opinion accordingly, if that's your inclination.

1. This piece refers to itself as an "article," suggesting at least some degree of journalistic objectivity. But it's an opinion piece with a clearly-visible slant. Boo to the editor for allowing that to pass as such and relegating the piece to an Op-Ed quarters where it belongs.

2. Please tell me I'm not the only one who got a hoot out of the author earnestly referencing a protest email from a sometimes-visitor who took exception to the city of Miami allowing the performance to occur. I wonder if the e-mailer has heard of the First Amendment. You know, that little addendum stating that speaking one's mind, whether in blackface, dressed as Queen Elizabeth, or hanging from their toes in a bikini made of baby seal fur. Point is, it's protected. I suppose the city could bump Shirely Q. by invoking some kind of reference to "community standards"--a certain infamous fatty-in-bikini ban comes to mind--but the city of Miami would have such an army of lawyers and civil libertarians (self included) up their...bikini...as to not require a Poly Sci grad or constitutional scholar to point out it'd be a first-class blunder.

Thank you. You may unplug your ears now.

will
will

The activists just have nothing to bitch about. Everything is fair game in comedy. Black comedians make fun of white people. White comedians make fun of black people. And everything in between. Get over yourselves.

Mr Clean
Mr Clean

I can't help it. I love Shirley Q and think she is really funny. I have every CD Shirley ever did and still crack up every time I listen.

Biscayne Bystander
Biscayne Bystander

Comedy is an exercise in 1st Amendment rights and should never be taken literally. Funny this paper is organizing protesters at an event that's being advertised on this website. ESPECIALLY FUNNY given the fact that the paper's chief editor, Michael Lacey, was recently quoted using the N word at a banquet: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0...

Glenn61 (Googole my name)
Glenn61 (Googole my name)

And...why aren't Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh organizing protest at appearances by Larry the Cable Guy ,Or calling for a ban on reruns of HeeHaw...?

And why is Barack H. Obama given a pat on the back for stereo typing poor whites as bitter dummies who cling to their guns and Bibles...?

Smacks of a double standard to me....if we are going to ever achieve equality of the races, classes and genders then we all need to stop being so damn overly sensitive to what is just comical about us....some people just deserve to be made fun of.

Glenn61
Glenn61

Why are the Black activist who are so offended by racism not at the Hard Rock's comedy club when Chris Rock was lambasting everything about white people if they are so bent on stamping out racist stage acts.

...I think Shirley Q. Liquor and Chris Rock are funny.

Lots of Black comedians are applauded when making humor of trashy white crackers,,,it's funny because there is an element of truth to it. Just like laughing it up over fagots and niggers.

I feel like if you can not joke about crackers, niggers and fagots then we are all too serious and we should know what can happen when disdain for negative stereo types is serious.

Nazism, Communism and Islamo Fascism is the alternative.....I plan to be there this weekend at the Convention Center to take in the sights.

Orlyvazquez
Orlyvazquez

Pffffffff! I guess you're a Fox republican huh? It happens on all sides and it's not limited to politics. It has more to do with ignorance, such as your earlier statement.

Str8 T
Str8 T

I'm Black and even I'd say that "White Chicks" movie is horrible, unnecessary, and offensive . Doing that movie was done in very poor judgement on the Wayans brothers' part. However there is NO way that you can compare that particular movie's "White Face" Portrayal(along with a small handful of similar movies) to the history of "Black Face" portrayals in many, many, many movies and stage productions over the last century and beyond.

Here's a few links on the subject that might enlighten you a bit about the whole "Black Face" issue:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/...

Also, here's a small example of how even in these days such ignorance is still affecting people:

http://www.rhymeswithsnitch.co...

The bottom line is the scales still haven't been balanced when it comes to such race portrayals. And I don't believe it would be positive or just if the same Lampooning were to be done by a Black Person either. So obviously Charles Knipp ia going to so going to do whatever he wants to, but there shouldn't be any surprise that there are some, if not a lot, of Black people who are offended. He even admits that his core audience are gay white men, clearly his "Homage" or "tribute" is not being overwhelmingly well received by the very people he claims to be Championing for.

Am I personally offended by his act? I have to admit I don't care for it. I'm not overly emotional about it. But what i do find especially disappointing is when people don't enlighten themselves enough about issues like this to understand that Black people or any group of people(Race, sexuality, economic standing, etc.) could be offended from historical mockery. Your previous statement leads me to believe that really aren't very aware on the subject.

Str8 T
Str8 T

I don't know about trying to ban it. But speaking for myself as a Black person, I don't celebrate any Black Women doing self-deprecating lampoon standup comedy(and there are some out there), no matter if their core following were gay white men or anyone else for that matter.

William M
William M

I'm guessing a beautiful woman of color of enormous weight wrote this article.

William M
William M

As a southern person who once worked on a farm as a young man, I understand that, on occasion, just a few rotten apples can ruin a whole barrel of apples. This means racism never truly exists as most of us always got along. But I guess you need convincing that times are truly different for the worse? Well, just check out the interracial nude art (pornography) going on if you don't think things are different and that people of every race, creed, and color aren't sleeping together. Have fun.

William M
William M

Bingo! This isn't real journalism.

 
Miami Concert Tickets
Loading...