The South Carolina-born bar manager claims "never in a million years" did he anticipate that booking the blackface caricature of an "inarticulate black welfare mother with 19 children" would become "a huge race issue."
Michael Shawn Talley, manager of The Eagle on North Lombard Street, said the bar meant no harm in scheduling Chuck Knipp, a well-known Texas comedian who performs as Shirley Q. Liquor. ...Talley grew up in South Carolina, where Knipp often performs to packed houses. Though the Shirley Q. Liquor shows have drawn backlash and protest in other cities, Talley didn't foresee any problem.
The bar announced the March 15 show a month ago. As an opening act, Talley also scheduled an African-American drag entertainer who planned to perform in "whiteface." When Talley created a Facebook event page, the backlash started. Deejays who had events scheduled at the bar canceled. Others planned to boycott a Saturday dance party.
"I was enraged," said Sophia St. James, a Northeast Portland nurse who frequented the bar. "The Eagle is known for being sexist and transphobic. I knew they had issues surrounding bigotry. But it shocked me."
The controversy sparked "thousands" of Facebook comments, adds the report. Staff of the gay leather bar are accused of dismissing customer complaints and "delet[ing] comments from the event [Facebook] page."
Shirley Q. Liquor is the alter ego of Charles Knipp, a gay comedian who claims to be "an ordained Quaker minister"—which itself is a conundrum because the Society of Friends has a fascinating history of progressiveness on racial issues and sexuality. Quakers also do not "ordain" ministers.
Knipp's performance schedule has faced dozens of cancellations in recent years. Many Black and Black LGBT activists have repeatedly criticized gay-owned establishments for booking the blackface caricature. For instance, a Hartford, Connecticut gay bar was criticized and boycotted after it refused to cancel or reschedule Knipp's February 23rd 2007 appearance. "Being a 32-year-old white guy, Black History Month didn't pop into my head," the manager told the Hartford Courant.