Explore Long Beach's Vibrant Drag Scene
By Jess Kung
With the popularity of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” bringing drag into the homes of mainstream America, we must be sure to not forget what the core of drag is: a real life performer giving their all in a dark club, lip syncing for fluttering cash tips.
Long Beach has a vibrant drag scene, with fantastic local queens like Ava Stone and Mia Farrow. We’re also lucky because our proximity to Los Angeles makes traveling here easy for big names, from LA and beyond.
If you’re interested in going to a drag show and you’re anxious about going in blind, here’s the one thing you need to know: Bring no less than $10 in cash for tips. Pay your performers. Tip them a little even if you think they’re doing a bad job, because at least they had the guts to get out there.
Everything else isn’t too hard to figure out (it’s good to reserve your seats ahead of time), but here’s a little guide to Long Beach’s biggest drag venues, just in case.
330 Pine Avenue
According to their website, Hamburger Mary’s is a “family of locally owned, independent restaurants.” There are unique locations across the country, united under a banner of burgers, brunch, and live performances. The location in Long Beach boasts a stage and dance floor, surrounded by ascending layers of tables like a tiny Golden Globes.
Of the venues in town, Mary’s hosts drag the most frequently. There are regular shows on Wednesdays (Wild Wednesday hosted by local legend Jewels), Fridays (The Dreamgirls Revue hosted by Emmy-award winning wigologist Delta Work), and Sundays (FACADE hosted by “drag mother to all” Psycadella Facade, which has no cover and is 18+). There are also three brunches every weekend and a rotating slot of shows for Saturday night, including a drag king night!
Most nights are 21+, and there’s a $10 cover charge. There are paid lots all around the building off 3rd and 4th Streets (you’ll spend around $4). Or, if you’re super cheap like me, you can try to find a spot for free two blocks down around 4th and Elm, in the metered spaces after they turn off.
3428 E Pacific Coast Highway
I definitely thought Executive Suite was a hotel of some kind when I first passed by, but that’s because I’m not very smart. From the colored lights and rainbow flags flanking the building, to the huge beer advertisements hanging by the door, it had every cue to indicate its status as a homosexual drinking hole.
There are two drag shows every Thursday: Opening Act (which features local queens) hosted by the absolutely delightful Nomi B, and Lipstick Divas (“Drag Race” alum) hosted by Morgan McMichaels. There’s a $7 show fee that covers both, and it’s also a “Drag Race” viewing party when the season is airing.
The location has three floors; the shows are on the dance floor up the stairs from the entrance. There’s parking available for patrons behind the Out of the Closet across the street. Worst comes to worst, you can also duck into the residential parking down Redondo.
These are only the recurring shows in Long Beach. There’s also the Velvet Lounge in Santa Ana and lots of well-known places in LA. Remember, the mainstreaming of drag means audiences are more diverse than ever. If you’re straight and cis, respect the space and you’ll have a good time. A drag queen might read your outfit to filth, but the only reason you should feel unwelcome is if you don’t tip anything.