A former nurse from McAllen, Shady Lady entered the world of drag queendom on a dare (one that involved several friends forking over $100 each to witness the transformation). This yellow brick road began at a “titty bar in Brownsville” called Camichín, where Shady emceed for more than 50 dancers, emerged as the club’s main attraction, and was eventually discovered by the Saint’s late owner Raphael Ruiz de Velasco. Her wickedly funny approach to entertaining (which includes cussing, bilingual lip-synching, self-satire, outrageous costumes, and rolling across the dance floor with wads of dollar bills in hand) has made her one of the few “must-see” drag acts in town — and easily the best reason to stay out past midnight on a Sunday. After performing for 17 years at the Saint (1430 North Main) and 10 years at Heat (1500 North Main), Shady shocked the scene with a recent move off the Strip to Woody’s (800 Lexington). Then, in another surprising, almost serendipitous shift, the Saint — the Main Strip’s anchor and most enduring nightclub — set up shop at Woody’s. Ushering in a new era, Shady and the Saint are together again and working toward reinventing the space as a more “Vegas-style cabaret.”
After the Shady Lady Super Sunday Show at the Saint, we asked the living legend and a few members of her “new circuit” what does Gay Pride mean to you?
— Words and photos by Bryan Rindfuss