Most of the entertainers at the Gay 90s told the bar they would not be doing any more shows after what they say is poor management. Twin Cities drag icons Nina DiAngelo, Monica West, Bebe Zahara Benet, and Genevee Love announced Friday they were no longer performing at the Gay 90s. Their exit follows that of two other Twin Cities drag icons, Roxy Marquis and Cee Cee Russell. Two show technicians also announced their intention to not return to run lighting for the popular drag bar.
“Unfortunately, it’s time,” show director Nina DiAngelo said in a statement on Friday. “We all love what we do, we just no longer enjoy where we are doing it. This is in NO WAY a retirement of any sorts. We all will be performing throughout the Twin Cities, until we find somewhere to perform again, as a unit.”
DiAngelo added, “Bigger things are coming, and we are very excited.”
West, Love, and Marquis have all announced that they are moving to Lush for Saturday performances with show director Victoria Deville. DiAngelo wrapped up a last minute gig over Halloween weekend at the Saloon. Benet will host a weekly drag event called Mood on Wednesdays at the Exchange.
The entertainers’ combined experience is more than 100 years at the Gay 90s with Russell, Marquis, and DiAngelo having performed for over 20 years each. In addition, Monica West had been at the Gay 90s for 15 years, Benet for 12 years, and Love for 9 years.
According to DiAngelo, the performers did not walk out. In note to fans, she wrote: “We are individually contracted on a nightly basis, and sign a new contact every evening. There was no commitment on either party to renew said contract at any given time.”
As to the reason for the exodus: “I can only say that it just didn’t feel right anymore,” DiAngelo said. “Disrespect, lack of appreciation, and a general disregard for your entertainers, your employees, your patrons and yourselves is eventually going to affect your business. A person will put up with quite a bit when they feel there is nowhere else to go.”
DiAngelo added, “We are not bitter, we are not mad, we are just moving on.”
DiAngelo also shared the letter she sent to the management of the Gay 90s alerting them to her departure. It stated, in part:
Yesterday, I celebrated my 20th anniversary at the Gay 90s and I am extremely lucky to be able to say that, to this day, I wholeheartedly love my chosen career and will forever be grateful for the role the 90s played in it…. The entire cast shares the same sentiment as me, and although at first we were all planning to leave, two have decided to stay. You should not mistake their decision for happiness…. In addition to our departure, Tech Persons Bruce Rubin and Jim Cordero, both who also have almost 20 years of service at Spotlight Operators will also be giving notice as of today.
When contacted by The Column, Gay 90s management declined to comment on the exodus of the club’s most well known performers.
All of the performers are part of the Ladies of La Femme and will be updating fans via the group’s Facebook page.