With Ohio starting to open up more and more and the ability to get vaccinated against Covid, as best as we know. It is time to start planning your trips to drag shows to support our drag community. And what better way to talk about it than with the most recent drag show at the Cove Nightclub at Geneva on the Lake.
The Cove Nightclub
The Cove sits on Geneva on the Lake on the main drag. From the outside, it appears the small little spot tucked away amongst the lakefront stalls. Inside, it opens up into a sprawling expanse reminiscent of the hillbilly dance halls in movies like the remake of Footloose. Picture the Roadhouse where Patrick Swayze was the bouncer, that is the feeling the Cove gives. Welcoming with a sense of danger around any corner. For a brief moment, I felt as if I had walked back into a country bar back in Virginia.
The Cove opened in 1963 by Peter Macchia, his parents – Frank and Jeanette, and his nephew Bobby Nocera. Peter came to Geneva on the Lake as a kid from his home in New Castle and fell in love with the area. Peter wanted to open a live venue and patterned the Cove after the Riviera Hotel in Palm Springs California from the era of the 1950s and 60s. The Cove players host up-and-coming rock bands from Northeast Ohio, as well as national acts.
Drag Queen Invasion
Once a month, The Cove turns over its bar to Drag Queen Invasion. The show sports a monthly theme and boasts a large cast of amazing drag queens to leave you wanting more. This month’s theme was Mother, May I, in honor of Mother’s Day.
The crowd is a mix of bachelorette and ladies as far as the eye can see. It’s the kind of crowd that loves to support drag while at the same time wanting to be the center of attention.
But we are here for the show and not the scenery.
This was also set to be a touching show as it is the last one that Kari Nickles will do before she takes a brief hiatus from performing for health issues. We all wish Kari well as she recovers.
Mother May, I
As a host, Vivian Vendetta Sinclaire is a raucous and campy queen, reminiscent of the old school drag queens I grew up on. She has a style of humor that seems more fitting to the gay baths of old and it floods me with memories of being a young gay boy attending my first drag show. Vivian opened the night with a gay classic Mama Mia.
Kari Nickels took the stage next, what she did not know was that this show was actually a benefit show for her. It was to help assist with some personal health-related issues. Kari, always being the professional, took to the stage in her normal flair – which translates into as little covering as possible. Kari is an amazing force in the Cleveland Drag scene. Her first number was Total Eclipse of the Heart and no one turns a look for this song quite the way she does. I guess you can say I am a bit partial to her.
Anhedonia Delight was next on stage and is from Cleveland. If you have never seen her, be sure to head to the Grog Shop on June 4th for the return of her ever famous and engaging Glamgore. It is a must-see. Anhedonia is a queen who puts a lot of thought into the performance of her shows. She brings intellect and fun to her shows and her first number was no different. Start with an amazing outfit, mix in clips for Clueless, and finally add with the songs Pretty Girls and Shut Up And Drive, you have an amazing fun time.
The third queen of the night was Ashtabula’s own, Mona Lotz. Mona, to me, definitely fits that old-school drag kind of vibe. Throw in the fact that she sings live and it’s a sight to see. This is the first time that I’ve seen Mona and I was not disappointed. Her first number was a live performance of her rendition of I’m Outta Love by Anastasia. This is one of my favorite Anastasia songs.
To close the first show, we were to witness the acrobatic dance stylings of Gizelle Devaux from Toledo. There are two types of queens that I have always loved, old-school drag and dancing queens. Gizelle definitely delivers as the latter. She knows how to work the crowd and the floor. Giving you a well-proportioned hourglass figure that keeps you transfixed. Her first number was a mashup of Motive by Arianna Grande and Doja Cat and Promiscuous Boy by Nelly Furtado. These two songs definitely complimented her moves on the floor.
Throughout the night, they were selling 50/50 raffle tickets, which, secretly, were for raising money for Kar Nickles. The basis of a 50/50 raffle is that the winner takes half of the pot and the other half goes to whatever it was for. During the second half of the show, we would have a winner drawn.
As a host, Vivian knows how to keep things moving and on time. She promised a 15-minute intermission, which we know in most drag circles could be anywhere from at least 20 minutes to almost an hour. Ms. Vivian kept the show moving and in about twenty minutes she was back on stage, setting up the second half. This part of the show was set as a double-song set. Each queen would perform two separate looks with two separate songs. They would do quick changes between the other performer’s numbers.
Vivian’s first set was a true camp sensation. She graced the stage dressed as a firewoman and started her show with Hot Stuff by Diana Ross. From here she pulled out a tube of Icy Hot which she mimicked rubbing on her lady bits. This led to a mashup of Hot and Cold – Katy Perry, Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys, and Burnin’ Love – Elvis Presley. She closed that number with a PSA stating “this is why you don’t put icy hot on your labia, girls.”
If you know me, you know I still love Nirvana. So when Kari Nickles came out doing the cover of Heart-Shaped Box by Dead Sara, I was instantly living it. Add to that a strap outfit and pasties and this left you feeling your S&M fantasies.
A reveal number is always an amazing event for a drag performance. Anhedonia came to the stage in this blue confetti coverup to the song Fight Song by Rachel Platten. Teasing glimpses of her outfit underneath kept us entranced until she whipped off the cover to reveal a dress made out of zip ties in the color of the Rainbow Flag. This queen can make some amazing outfits.
Mona graced us with another live performance, decked out in the 60s/70s themed outfit. The number was a cover of the song Don’t Leave Me This Way called Don’t Tell Me You’re Gay. It was a campy drag song, wet dream. It left the audience laughing and wanting more.
As Gizelle was set to do her first number of the second half, Vivian stopped her and the DJ to do a song that was better for her. She changed her song to End of Time by Beyoncé. Hard bass and snappy tempos kept her moving and interacting with the crowds.
Vivian returned to the stage for her second song of the second half. Dressed in a denim dress, lip-syncing to Church Bells by Carrie Underwood. I was living for this look, it reminded me of Wynonna Judd with more attitude. It was perfect.
Kari’s second number for this set was Dirty by Christina Aguilera. She came out in handmade glitter chaps that she had created the night before. She said she couldn’t sleep so she felt it was a better use of her time to create a piece for the show. This outfit was giving me Cher with blonde hair. Loving it.
Anhedonia graced the stage in a beautiful white beaded flapper style dress. Her song was All That Jazz from the movie Chicago, sang by Katherine Zeta-Jones. Seeing Anhedonia in outfits like this leaves you with a feeling that she is an old soul. The beauty she has is that of an era where extravagance was a mainstay and she relishes in presenting it.
Mona’s last song of the night was also a camp-style tribute. She came onto the stage with a Joan Crawford look from the movie Mommy Dearest’s boardroom scene. This number mixed the songs Crazy – Patsy Cline, Found a Cure – Ultra Nate, I’m Gonna Show You Crazy – Bebe Rexha. The songs meshed well with the kind of character Joan Crawford is and was a fun experience to see.
Gizelle finished out the second half of the show doing Beyoncé’s Naughty Girl. With this song, Gizelle interacted with the crowd. One of her first stops was the bachelorette group where she gave a lap dance to the bride-to-be. Her outfit was a beautiful black one-piece with fringe along the arms to add to her movement. It was a show-stopping way to end the night.
As a first-time visitor to the Cove, I thought the size played well with the kinds of shows that queens like Kari Nickles and Gizelle DeVaux do. The types of shows that interact with the crowd to keep energy moving. At the same time, the stage was perfect enough for performers like Mona, Anhedonia, and Vivian. It gives you the best of both worlds.
If you live on the east side and are looking for a nice spot to see a drag show once a month, then make the trip out to Geneva on the Lake and visit the Cove. Heck, if you need your drag queen fill and you are anywhere in the Northeast Ohio area, grab a few friends and make your way over. I am sure Vivian Vendetta Sinclaire would love to see you each month.