Well, it looks like Atlanta could quickly lose another one of its major drag bars.
Burkhart’s Pub, one of Atlanta’s oldest and most popular drag destinations, has been at the center of controversy this week—even making national news. On Friday, we shared some screenshots from the owner, Palmer Marsh’s Facebook account, one in which he called Barack Obama “a stupid n*gger”.
The following day, Burkhart’s general manager Don Hunnewel released a statement via Georgia Voice, stating that he would leave the bar once everything was settled with his employees. “I have an immediate obligation to those dedicated souls and once their lives are stabilized I will seek new opportunities.”
As of Wednesday, the bar had completely disabled their Facebook account amidst a sea of angry reviews and comments. The owners have not responded at length for comment, but Mary Marsh did give WUSSY the thumbs up emoji.
As the story broke nationally, social media buzzed with anger and confusion—some calling for a swift boycott and some demanding action from the drag queens and employers who work at Burkhart’s.
Popular drag entertainer, Angelica D’Paige Brooks, wrote on Facebook this Thursday that she would be quitting her job after performing and hosting shows for many years.
“About 3 years ago Ruby Redd and I were hosting a karaoke there another employee( who will remain nameless) said the word N***** of course I was offended in the beginning and still am offended but the person tried to justify saying the word I spoke to the Ruby about it she immediately went to the person and to management were they try to justify it again, the next day our budget was cut and she decided to leave because we felt like we were being punished because we said something about something that was wrong she stood up for me when I couldn't stand up for myself. I was told if I said one more thing about racism that that was going to be the end of my employment. I needed that job I need this job but last night I ended my employment with Burkhart's Pub..."
Ruby Redd, along with Amber Divine and several other Atlanta entertainers, quit working at Burkhart’s in 2016 after similar allegations came to light.
Later on Thursday night, Atlanta queen and entertainment director for Burkhart’s (and formerly Jungle), Phoenix announced that she would be putting in her resignation along with the entire staff of entertainers. “It pains me and also terrifies me to say, that Ive officially turned in my resignation, beginning now. Also, as a whole, all entertainers that are under my direction have turned in their resignation.”
Brigitte Bidet, host of the Sunday night show Tossed Salad, also announced on Saturday that she would be quitting along with the rest of the Burkhart’s queens. “No matter how you spin it, the money ends up with the owners. Their silence on the situation is disturbing, and that’s just not ‘how things are’ or how things should be. My heart goes out to the employees and entertainers who kept that place going.”
Tossed Salad will move to My Sister’s Room at 10pm starting this Sunday.
The Atlanta activist group, ATL Activate, will be hosting a public meeting on Saturday about the Burkhart’s situation, with the goal of coming up with organized solutions or actions. You can find info on that here.