'Lips' Unsealed: Drag Queens Will Soon Be Serving Up Food, Entertainment In South Loop

A new drag and dining experience is setting up shop on Michigan Avenue.

Lisa Fielding
August 14, 2019 - 1:32 pm
Lips Chicago

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Inside the old Ford Motor showroom on Michigan Avenue in the South Loop, is a transformation only a queen could love.

"It's sort of walking into a drag queen palace. In the entrance way, the walls are covered with pink leopard with little rhinestones here and there. There are eight-foot-high chandeliers. Every wall is covered in glitter, feathers and boas. It's glitz, glam and just exciting," said Yvonne Lamé, Founder, Owner, Lips.

Lamé opened Lips in New York, 23 years ago as a drag and dining show.

"We're a dinner theater and looking back 23 years, New York magazine came in and did a little blurb, they took some pictures and when people saw that, the phones didn't stop ringing," she said.

Lips Chicago
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Lamé said they auditioned more than 100 performers and had to turn away dozens of others.

"I did pre-scout the show hostesses. I went out to the clubs and found them that way. We have some of the superstars of the Chicago drag community here," she said.

The queens are mostly local talent who will do double duty.

"What makes us different than some other places in town, the waitresses are actually the drag queens. We are set up like a dinner theater. The queens are serving you, then they get ready for the show," Lamé said.

Lips Chicago
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Performer Delilah J. Brooks said drag became her life after doing theater for many years.

"When I was a kid I wanted the parts I couldn't get," she laughed."They weren't going to put the 6-year old as the lead in Annie. I used to do it every night at my house honey. I was always performing in college and in companies, so I was always performing. I didn't know I wanted to dress up as a woman, but I knew I loved dressing up. 

"I wanted to fit in in the gay crowd and the way to stand out, it was drag. It was putting on a big wig and embracing your difference"

Lips Chicago
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Brooks said drag has come a long way in recent years, but it's a key part of LGBTQ history.

"The history of drag is so important. Nowadays everything is lost to the moment instead of who we were. We are the story tellers of the LGBTQ history. We carry the history, we've learned the lessons. We've come so far," she said.

Lips Chicago
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Brooks said with the help of RuPaul's Drag Race, the art has become more accepted and loved within the entertainment industry.

"We touch the heterosexual community. Yeah, the gays come in, but we expand the visual of drag to the heterosexual mainstream world. Our stage is important because people who wouldn't normally enjoy drag, now because of things like 'Drag Race' want to know more," she said.

Yvonne LaMé, Founder, Owner, Lips and performer Delilah J. Brooks
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Lamé is a former performer herself, but now serves as the queen behind the queens.

"I tell myself I'm like Fosse now. I'm probably as crazy as he his," she laughed."I'm sort of the show director and help create the talent and make sure they know how to make the magic."

Lips Chicago
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

In the dressing room, it takes about two hours to transform Brooks into her alter ego. Her bright colors, her makeup, gowns and wigs, she said, she's found her true self.

"It's that power of drag that makes you realize that you can do anything and be anything you want in this world. There are no more limits, especially in this progressive world that we live in today. You're allowed to be different now," Brooks smiled.

In the dressing room, it takes about two hours to transform Brooks into her alter ego. Her bright colors, her makeup, gowns and wigs, she said, she's found her true self.
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Lips is already in New York City, San Diego, Fort Lauderdale, and Atlanta.

Lamé said the timing is right to bring the unique drag and dining show to a more diverse audience in Chicago.

"Business has been surging everywhere. Drag is in vogue, darling," Lamé laughed.

Lips Chicago
WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

Lips Chicago opens to the public on Aug. 23. 

It will be open 7-11 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; and noon-11 p.m. Sunday, at 2229 S. Michigan Ave; and is closed Monday-Tuesday. Reservations can be made by calling 312-815-2662.