Her two appearances on an uber-popular network talent show likely got millions of more viewers than any episode of “Drag Race,” and her nearly two decades with a New York drag dining institution have established her as an icon in the scene. As we prepare for the long awaited reopening of Lips NYC, we find ourselves starving for the live vocals and larger than life presence of All Beef Patty!
Thotyssey: Hello Ms. Patty! Thanks so much for talking to us today! How has your crazy pandemic year been?
All Beef Patty: Long but fast, if that makes any sense. Happy to have life coming back, and looking forward to entertain people at Lips again… and making money, lol!
It’s been so sad to have a year without Lips. You must really miss all the girls!
Yes, that’s been one of the hardest parts. I stay in touch with a few, and have seen a few. I live with Ginger Snapt, so there is no escape from her! And my landlord is Madiva. Big family affair in Brooklyn! [Lips in New York is] the last [national branch of Lips] to reopen; all the other locations are open, and doing quite well.
Well, nothing beats drag brunch with the ladies who practically invented it! How long have you been a Lips queen now?
I started working for Lips part time in September of 2002, so a very long time. I’m one of only a handful of queens that have been there that long. Hard to believe where we started, to where we are now. It’s really incredible… a real NYC institution.
Where are you from originally, and did you have a performing background or interest before you started drag?
I was born on Long Island, and we moved around a bit… but I have been in the general area for over 25 years now. I have always done theater and sang a lot, so the performance aspect of drag came quite naturally to me.
What actually inspired you to get in the drag biz?
I became friends with Tony Cody–better known as Penny Tration–many years ago at a gay meetup group called Twentysomething. He convinced / forced me into it. He would make all my costumes and wigs, and even do my makeup. He was my drag mother.
Oh wow! I bet the business and art of drag have changed in so many ways since you started, right? RuPaul’s Drag Race, for one thing.
It’s been a real amazing shift. When I first started at Lips, we would never see any teens. But as it became more popular in the media, we would get large sweet 16 parties all the time… it was really crazy. One of the first audition spots for Drag Race was the old Lips location on Bank Street.
Lips is a venue that is very welcoming to straight audiences, particularly women. Lots of drag queens in bars complain about loud and disrespectful female audiences, but the Lips girls really have it down to a science and everyone leaves happy. Do you ever lose your patience with rowdy audiences, ladies or otherwise?
I think we all get frustrated at times, but that’s part and parcel working in the entertainment / service industry. Luckily, being in drag we are able to put people in their places rather easily, and have it come off as funny and campy as opposed to rude.
Is there an actual big difference between Lips’ clientele and gay bar audiences?
What I like most about straight girls is that for most of them, this is a new experience. They really appreciate it, and have fun. Gay men can be very aloof and not very friendly–especially the young ones. They’re constantly comparing us to Drag Race girls, or just not being appreciative. It’s unfortunate, but I would much rather perform for a room full of bachelorettes than gay guys any day.
I vividly remember you competing on America’s Got Talent. You were one of the few drag queens or queer acts ever on the show to have their second performance televised, and the judges seemed relatively respectful towards you (compared to other drag acts on the show)… and you slayed! Judge Howard Stern in particular loved you. What was that whole experience like for you?
It was very surreal. I really didn’t want to do it, but they pursued me and made it quite easy to audition by not waiting on long lines. My family treated me like a rock star, which was fun. Howard did seem to like me, but we didn’t have much interaction with the judges; reality tv is far from real. The whole experience, though, was very positive–I got a free trip to Vegas from it, with my own suite at the Venetian, lol!
You were always known as a very tall and plus size queen, but since you were on AGT you slimmed down quite a bit! That’s a good thing as far as health goes, but were you afraid that it would change your drag presence considerably?
Well no fear, after this pandemic I’ll have a much bigger presence for everyone! When I first was presented with the idea of doing drag, Tony made it clear that he thought I would be successful because of my size. He was right, and it was also a way for me to hide. I’ve never been thrilled being the chubby friend! I think the one thing that always separated me from the other queens was my live singing–so no matter what size I was, that was unique and offered me gigs maybe other queens couldn’t get. This year, I gained back a lot of weight… so it’s something I need to work on. But thank goodness the voice is still there, lol!
Gurl, we are all in the same big boat, lol! So, Lips returns Thursday, May 20th. Obviously there will be social distance protocol enforced until the city is cleared back to full capacity (on May 19th, or July, or somewhere in between or beyond… depends on who you ask). You’ll be there on Fridays and Saturdays! What do you think the children can expect from the reborn Lips?
A bunch of hungry queens very excited to be back performing and making some fierce coin. I think what made Lips so successful over the 25 years we have been in business is the uniqueness of each girl: from live singing to amazing dancing and comedy queens, we really are a true cabaret drag attraction. We certainly will have our challenges with the new protocols–God knows how all that makeup will stay on under masks–but we will make it work! The owners have been working to refresh the restaurant with new paint and redone floors, so it will feel like a new, shiny jewel box. Lips is the greatest place to celebrate a birthday, wedding or Bat mitzvah! From divorce to alien abduction, we make that special day even more special.
It’s so inspiring that the tradition of Lips endures!
I’m glad to see so many queens that have started at Lips and gone on to great things, like Drag Race. Especially our amazing girl Peppermint, who I used to sing karaoke tracks with back in the day. So exciting to see those careers take off.
Pep’s success has been a glorious and well-deserved process! We’d be remiss, though, not to mention Lip’s late, legendary bartender Frankie Cocktail, who we lost two summers ago and who’ll still be so missed when Lips returns to normalcy. You must have may fond memories of her.
Oh my goodness… that was such a huge gut punch to the Lips family. I have countless ones, but I think the funniest thing about her is that she would sing along with her lip synch when she performed her songs. And she was not a singer! So funny to see her gliding around the dining room, loudly singing to the song without a mic. She was truly one of a kind. The customers adored her, and it was a terrible loss,
Her legacy will always be a part of the fabric of Lips! Okay, to end on a hopeful note: what is one song you can’t wait to perform live again… or maybe even for the first time?
I’m currently working on some ABBA; they are a real crowd pleaser. And maybe a classic Gaga song! We always have to feel out the crowds before we perform. Something tells me that these crowds will be thrilled with just about anything at this point!
Couldn’t agree more… thanks, Ms. Patty!