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Beyoncé takes center stage at this all-black drag show commemorating new album

Bambi Banks-Couleé performs at Oasis, which hosts a monthly all-Black drag show. | Giotographer | Source: Giotographer

It’s been less than two weeks since Beyoncé unleashed her seventh album on the world. Per usual, there wasn’t much advance notice. Social media teases for a new project from the 28-time Grammy winner began to appear in June. By June 20, a new single, “Break My Soul” was out, sending the Beyhive into a frenzy, inspiring local listening parties and initiating a global countdown for the arrival of Renaissance on July 30.

For San Francisco drag queen Nicki Jizz, the wait took on added significance once she made the decision to dedicate the August 12 installment of her monthly, all-Black drag show to Beyoncé’s new record. Established initially as an online-only event during the early months of the pandemic, “Reparations” made the jump from the small screen to the stage when it took up residence at the popular SF drag club Oasis last year.

Since then, Jizz (or Nick Marshall when out of drag) has hosted a night each month that’s showcased Black queer and trans creative talents from the Bay Area and beyond. The performances often star popular cast members from television’s RuPaul’s Drag Race; recent shows have featured Season 11 winner Yvie Oddly and series favorite Kennedy Davenport. Jizz said making Beyoncé the center piece of this week’s show was “basically a no-brainer.”

Nicki Jizz (Nick Marshall) hosts a Beyoncé-themed installment of her monthly all-Black drag show, 'Reparations,' at Oasis. | Marcel Pardo

With the next edition of “Reparations” scheduled to take place just 13 days after Renaissance’s release date, Jizz decided to roll the dice by putting together an entire show based on the album in under two weeks. Limited preparation time is certainly not unheard of in the world of drag, but to meet this special challenge, Jizz reached out to four out-of-town guests she knew would want in.

They include drag kings Luc Ami from Chicago and Jay Kay from Brooklyn. Also traveling to play the gig are LA’s Succubus and Chicago burlesque performer Lynzo the Heartthrob. Joining them are local artists and returning “Reparations” artists Heaven on Earth and Sir Joq, who Jizz lovingly calls “some of my go-to favorites.” Fittingly, Jizz’s drag daughter, Newoncé, is also on the lineup.

In explaining her decision to host a Renaissance edition of “Reparations,” Jizz jokingly shared that she’s still holding out for the new Rhianna album but also detailed what makes this Beyoncé record an especially poignant pick for her show.

“It’s going to be a very special night because this album really does speak to the Black experience, and specifically, the Black queer experience,” she said. “There are a lot of queer references, there’s ballroom, and a lot of that is centered in the Black trans and Black queer community. ‘Reparations’ is the only all-Black drag show in San Francisco, so I feel like this is going to be the best way to see this album: with a Black cast who know what it’s about and who understand that experience.”

As part of Jizz’s commitment to inclusivity, fans unable to attend Friday’s show in person are encouraged to stream the show via the offical Oasis stream, where it will also be available to watch in perpetuity. Noting that at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone “was all in the same boat on Zoom,” Jizz shared that as things began to open back up, she wanted to be sure fans watching from locations like New York, Alaska, Utah—even Japan—didn’t lose access.

Jaymelah Moore | Giotographer

“We didn’t want to forget about them,” she said, “so we make our shows available and accessible for people, whether that’s somebody who might be sick that day or maybe someone who just does not have the funds to go. They can watch it from home and still be able to be a part of ‘Reparations’.”

Regardless of how people tune in, Jizz promises a night with plenty of memorable looks, lighting, and stunning performances. It’s a lot of work to book, promote, host and perform at “Reparations” all on her own, but she plans to keep doing “until I can’t anymore.”

For now, all eyes are on Saturday’s show—and that’s just what a drag queen likes to hear.

“At first, I was nervous about ticket sales because there isn’t a big headliner. But the headliner is Beyonce, right? It’s going to be amazing. We have a lot of surprises.”

Reparations Presents ‘Renaissance, Act I’

Oasis, 298 11th St.
Live Stream:
Friday, Aug. 12, 10 p.m. | $10-$25