At the end of a week-long vacation and what felt like a longer drive, past two amusement and minigolf parks, four hundred hotels/bungalows/motels/bungatels, and a few bare-lit backroads (not in that order), we arrived at a bar in the cabana, wood-walled, thatch-roof vein.
Ushered in from outside, the space opens on a large patio area. Wooden benches line the fence, on which we sat across the centerpiece of Tiki torches and statuettes. Our feet kicked mulch chips and we smoked while fending off polite proposition from two roaming shot boys.
Entering the bar, we walked on scuffed checkerboard around an intimate, wraparound bartop, upon which two Go-Go men danced. The dancer “Sweet T” rifled through a variety of banana slings with the same astro hightops. Another, which I only surmised to learn was “Russian,” wore American flag boy shorts for the duration of his performance. He proved briefly amateur when, bouncing his baton with vigor, he knocked a shaker backward off the bar.
Splash Bar has been around for nearly (or entirely?) fifteen years. Tony, the owner, was gracious to talk with us before the show. When asked about Splash, and its place in the self- and snidely proclaimed “Redneck Riviera,” he admits that he retooled his business model to evolve with the community. In its first five years, Splash was known for employing an all-male dancer lineup, mostly with folks who had worked at Swingin’ Richards. But as drag culture became more prominent and popular, Tony wound up with a partnership with Logo TV, and Splash has become a great spot to see Ru Queens across the seasons. When I ask what their typical crowd is like, he likens it a work-shopping crowd; while in Atlanta certain venues have insular scenes, Splash has a large tourist crowd alongside their regulars, and it’s a great crowd to test material on.
As the bar steadily took on capacity, the delay in the performance (due to a setback with Ginger's flight) produced some audacious dancers, and two bachelorette parties livened the proceedings. Soon enough, everyone in the building joined in the chorus of the Only Dance in the World.
Our host, Envy from Auburn, strolled out in a one-piece emblazoned with weed leaves. Palm trees, she swore with a wink, as she worked the crowd to welcome the first queen, China Moon.
With some eighteen years of service in Panama City, she was an excellent introduction to the scene. She began her performance on the floor, kicking off with a rousing disco number, “Can You Feel the Groove.” China did a great job with her sync, lips trembling with inflection in the lighting, which highlighted bold, yellow/blue/red eye lines.
The second queen of the evening, Miss Nadia Simone of Pensacola, began at the back of the room to a cover of “Don't Stop Believin',” by, who was it? Olivia Newton? (It was the Glee version; I’m not paid to know these things.) Well, she certainly synced as her, twirling through the crowd in lime green fringe. After her number, she proposed a toast with Envy, to a laundry list of deviants and flavors of sexual escape.
Miss Amanda Black began upon the bar, also in the back. As she made her way along the bartop in fur and fishnets, she performed Christina Aguilera’s “Express” with her back mostly to us, picking on a goateed Walter White in beach plaid and khaki shorts.
Finally, Ginger Minj strolled out to by then frenzied applause. She shared the mic with Envy, discussing her itinerary (Orlando—New York—London–Akron), popping a coke/meth joke, and launched into medley of “All About That Bass” and “Anaconda/Big Butts....” She’s bedecked in a blond beehive, white sequin jacket (ripped between songs on cue), and a dotted Monroe. Though we had a good spot at the time, the rush of recording devices doubling as iPhones and Androids made it difficult to view. (There was even a moment where I viewed a stretch through someone's phone, the magic of the lip sync shattered by a screen.) Mopping her “moisht” brow, she then worked an eager and drunk crowd with humor. Some choice bits include, on her performance in Denver, that “you get tipped in edibles!”, and telling a boy in a nondescript polo that his “grandmother was a whore.”
With “some champagne and pack of cigarettes” awaiting her in the dressing room, she made her exit, as the rest of the crowd was ushered out to the Only Other Song In The World Besides That One Song. Donning a newsprint one-piece, she re-emerged for her meet and greet, which seemed enjoyed and was in turn enjoyable. After a brief introduction, I asked if she had anything for Wussy's Atlanta readers.
“Herpes, honey, I've got that for everyone.”
Christopher Kaluzienski is assistant editor at Wussy in Atlanta, Georgia. He dreams of one day watching a queen introduced to the crowd as “Dwanche Bleveauxrow.”