A Catholic church in Times Square is outraged that a brunch time drag show is being performed at Lillie's restaurant next door in the middle of Lent.
Parishioners at St. Malachy's Catholic Church on 49th street are not happy.
“It’s terrible,” lamented parishioner Della Connolly, who said she is “almost” 100 years old. “Why are they acting like this? What did the church do to them?”
At the center of the controversy is a drag performer known as Epiphany Get Paid and the church's pastor, the Rev. Richard Baker.
The New York Post reports that the battle began last week when churchgoers noticed a poster hanging next to the church for the opening of "Breakfast at Ephiphany's" a show in which the 6-foot-7 drag queen sings show tunes.
"Ephiphany" is also the name of a sacred Catholic feast day and the first scheduled performance of the so-called "dragilicious brunch event" would have coincided with the first Sunday of Lent.
After parishioners complained, Father Baker complained to the management of the Victorian-themed restaurant.
“He was upset,” recalled Shannon Noecker, Lillie’s general manager. “He felt it was inappropriate.”
Epiphany, whose real name is Calen Tomaszewski, insisted the revue would be “lighthearted and family-friendly.”
“I could see how [Baker] might think a drag show would mean hookers and [oral sex],” said Epiphany, 31. “People are always afraid of what they don’t understand. These old ladies probably cried when Liberace died and they found out he was gay.”
Lillie agreed to cancel the show and move it to a sister restaurant nine blocks away. But Epiphany protested.
“It’s New York City. It’s Times Square,” he said. “If you can’t have a drag show here, where can you have one?”
Last week, the drag queen and the priest had a talk and agreed to disagree.
“I think as a man of the cloth, he’s used to saying a few choice words and getting his way,” said Epiphany. “I’m not worried. I’m victorious.”
The show will open at Lillie’s on Sunday, February 24, along with a march at noon in support of the event.
Father Baker, who softened his stance somewhat when he learned the show would not be as provocative as he feared, said, “I’m not pleased that we’re having a drag show next door.”
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