Shirley Q. Liquor Responds to Debate Over Portland Booking

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A screenshot of Shirley Q. Liquor's Twitter profile, taken April 23. A screenshot of Shirley Q. Liquor's Twitter profile, taken April 23.
By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
In our recent coverage of the community debate around the Eagle's booking (and later cancellation) of blackface performer Shirley Q. Liquor, we sought to represent a wide range of perspectives. In the coming days we will expand on that by posting additional excerpts from those interviews. But in the meantime, you may have noticed one voice was missing from the conversation: Chuck Knipp, better know as Shirley Q. Liquor. Unfortunately, the request PQ Monthly sent Knipp's booking agent at Divas and DJs was flatly refused, with an emphatic, "NOT INTERESTED." The website for Divas and DJs indicates that the agent is Stephen Ford, though the email responses included no signature and their author declined to identify him/herself when asked. PQ has since twice requested an interview with Shirley Q. Liquor via the performer's Twitter account after Knipp said in a since-deleted Tweet: "Too bad you don't have the balls to ask me for a comment." The performer responded to the first request with a link to a piece in Xtra! (a Canadian gay/lesbian news site) in which she was quoted. Here is a screenshot of that Tweet (which has also been deleted since it was posted last night). Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 5.06.41 AM Here's what Shirley Q. Liquor had to say in Xtra: “It amuses me that I can perform for mostly black audiences in some cities and get a terrific response, yet the people in Portland have such pent-up racial angst toward one another that even a non-performance by an obscure Texas drag queen is too threatening to handle,†he says in an email. Knipp says the problem is not the historical implications of blackface, but an inability to recognize that blackface is deeply ingrained in modern culture whether we’re comfortable talking about it or not. “The real issue people have is that I dare to mock some modern black cultural eccentricities,†he says. “There has been a tacit understanding that black people are either too noble or too weak to withstand parody of any kind, especially by a white person, who is assumed to carry all sorts of societal privileges that make them inherently more powerful and substantial than ‘people of colour.’†Shirley Q. Liquor has not yet responded to PQ's second interview request. Stay tuned for more local voices. BlogTail3_ErinRook