I’M GAGGING. With drag entertainer Lilly Slaptsilli. Craft Burger Bar.
KAREN RUTTER reviews
A journalist, a lesbian and a Jew walk into a bar.
Which actually happened last Wednesday night, and which turned out to be one of the funniest evenings I’ve had in a while. There we all were at the Craft Burger Bar, a cutely intimate spot run by the fabulous Russell Shapiro. Burgers are on the menu – obviously – but what’s also on, once a week, is a stand-up show by one of Cape Town’s most famous and well-loved drag entertainers, Lilly Slaptsilli.
Originally one half of the duo Mince, who started out 25 years ago (yes, really), drag diva Lilly is on her own in I’m Gagging, a 60-minute comedy show. It begins in song, of course, but swiftly sashays into a stand-up routine that seems more flow-of-consciousness then formatted. This is just an impression, mind – what’s being performed is clearly a cleverly constructed programme that is far from random. It just feels casual, which makes it all the more accessible.
What’s not casual, however, is Lilly’s appearance. As she herself points out, it takes a lot of time to look like her. Every inch the diva, Lilly has her Glamazon on, and she works it. Big hair, small dress, pert boobs – it’s all still in place, more than two decades on.
And what’s also still in place is that crafty, bitchy, sneaky, hilarious sense of humour. Drag queens are meant to be outrageous – it comes with the territory, and if you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be in their ‘hood. Drag is transgressive, it’s dangerous, it’s looking for trouble (at least, until RuPaul sanitised it on mainstream TV), and in its natural state, is meant to rile. Or at least shock. All of which Lilly pulls off, in the most hilarious way.
Whirlwind one-hour tour
I’m Gagging is essentially a collection of “true” stories about everyday life in Lilly’s world. That could mean meeting some homeless people. Or settling into a new suburb. Or fantasizing about flying first class. Tales which are delivered with a twist, sometimes at Lilly’s expense, sometimes at the audience’s. The pace is fast and the delivery is fantastic, making I’m Gagging a whirlwind one-hour tour.
It may not be everybody’s cup of vodka. But I loved it – as did the lesbian and the Jew.
What: Lilly Slaptsilli I’m Gagging
Where and when: Every Wednesday night at Craft Burger Bar on Buitengracht Street until October 2019