Monday, 30 April 2012 09:33
When you visit the University Club, Chastity Rose is the first person you see. The University of Florida alumnus, who goes by Chaz for short, has worked as the nightclub’s “Door-Whore” as well as a bartender. A self-described “fundraising bar queen,” Chastity also performs drag shows with a Gothic flair.
By Kelsey Grentzer
Photos by Kelsey Grentzer and Rodney Rogers
What does your job at the UC involve?
All the heavy lifting. I carry kegs up these three flights of floors. Cleaning the bar, doing the mirrors and such. Taking IDs, taking cash, and whenever there’s a problem with an unruly drunk, I’m usually the one in charge of taking care of that situation.
I kind of like it when they get violent. It’s fun for me.
I really enjoy bartending mostly, though. It’s easier to talk to customers that way. When you work the door, they pretty much say, “Hi, how are you?” hug, and then disappear into the masses. When you bartend, you can start conversation.
How long have you been at the UC?
I’ve been working here about five years now. I was helping around before then, but I wasn’t officially on the books until five years ago. I’ve been coming here for almost nine years though, ever since I came to college. My first goal was to find the gay bar in town. The second my parents dropped me off to college, I was Googling “gay bars Gainesville.” This place has been my home ever since.
How often do you perform as a drag queen?
Not as often as I’d like. I dress up at least once a month, sometimes two. We had the UC Backyard Country Ball and Barbeque, and I dressed up in my country attire, like a plaid shirt and a denim skirt, with a giant slit, because my female persona’s a whore. I perform every year for the Toys For Tots benefits, and whenever one of my drag sisters or aunts has a benefit, I try to perform for that, too. Every once in a while, I’ll request a Wednesday off, and I’ll do the amateur contest here. It’s supposed to be like an R&B/hip-hop crowd, so they don’t really get me, but that’s fine; I don’t care anyway. It’s just good energy.
You said you do a lot of charity events. What motivates you to do that?
I think it balances me out being a bitch the other 364 days of the year. I mean, working here, hostility comes with the territory. But I just like getting out there and trying to give back to the community. Any time there’s an opportunity for me to help other people in the community, I’m down for it, especially if it’s one of my drag sisters. I will go out of my way to help them win pageants and hopefully go to RuPaul’s Drag Race someday. I want to help them achieve their dreams, too, you know? It’s just something I do to balance out my very negative karma.
What’s a typical night at the UC like?
It’s a different crowd every night. Sunday it’s more laid-back upstairs. I’ve got my bar patrons, my regulars—people I can actually have a real conversation with. Downstairs we’re trying “Synthetic Sundays.” It’s mostly a goth crowd, which is also my type of thing. I love the goths. They love me. Monday’s kind of slow. Tuesday is Gothic karaoke. Wednesday is Hip-hop/R&B, so it’s a very urban crowd. Thursday’s our busiest night. It’s usually the young college kids and a lot of bachelorette parties. Huge crowd. Fridays the crowd has more lesbians, and on Saturdays it’s a very mixed crowd.
It’s kind of a chill environment for the most part. Working in a bar, people get drunk. Sometimes they get unruly. It’s just part of the job.
But Thursdays are good. I like Thursdays. I help Lady Pearl in with her luggage around 9pm. I wait a couple hours for people to start rolling in. I try to sneak a peek at the drag show downstairs between customers, especially when it’s one of my girls. (I have an extensive drag family through working here.) Close down. Clean up. Repeat.
Do you get a lot of people in here who aren’t gay or bisexual?
Oh, all the time. I hate bachelorette parties in the worst way, even though they’re hilarious. They come in with their penis necklaces and hot pink jewelry, and they’re trashed. By the end of the night, they look like someone rolled over them with a steam roller. Never have a bachelorette party here the day before your wedding, because you are not going to be getting up and making it down the aisle.
But yeah, we get straight people here all the time that have never seen a drag show. It’s like one of the things you have to do when you come to Gainesville is come here and see Lady Pearl. I mean, she’s a monster. And she’s abrasive. And she’s got a lot of personality. She’s like one of the landmarks in this town. People come here just to see the drag show and see what that’s like.
Do you have any interesting stories from working at the UC that stand out as the most memorable?
“She Wolf.” My totem symbol is a Siberian husky. I’m very wolf-oriented. I have wolf shirts and wolf statues and wolf pins—wolf everything. I have wolf tattoos on me right now. You know, very clearly visible wolf tattoos. So when Shakira came out with the “She Wolf” song, I was going to do it. I was about to come on stage, and the curtains were closed. For the intro, I was just going to play with the curtains a little bit, to the beat of the music like it was a pulse, but the entire rod came down. So I’m there, like, horrified. Didn’t see it coming. When something like that happens, you just have to roll with it, so I hopped over that and started shaking my hips anyway. So I did “She Wolf” and I did my little howls. But now they refer to a drag blooper here as a ’She Wolf’ moment,” and when it happens, they’ll howl.
Do you ever dress in drag when you’re not performing?
Definitely. When there’s a theme night, I’ll try to dress up to the theme. Boy clothes are so boring for me. I have nothing. Like flip flops and jeans. That’s all I have for boy clothes really, but in drag, I can do anything. I love like Little Red Riding Hood or slutty nurse. I’ll dress up for Halloween or slut parties or like the country ball we had last week. I dressed up for that, and I played the character while I was working. I was “Penny Joe Rose: Big daddy’s biggest little girl…and neighborhood slut.”
What’s your favorite part about working at the UC?
Seeing a lot of these performers. I mean, I love the people who come here. I’ve met a lot of new friends and a lot of more friendly individuals. But I love the drag shows here. I have a really good extensive family, and I live to see them challenge themselves creatively.
There are a lot of really talented performers who come here from out of town, and some of them are the sweetest people you’ll meet in your entire life. We’re not all catty bitches like you see in RuPaul’s Drag Race. Some of these girls have a lot of heart and creativity, and I really hope they go somewhere with anything they try to do, whether it’s reality TV or music videos or trying to go to the pageant system.
When did you compete in the Miss Gay Ocala pageant?
Oh God, that was like three years ago. I’m so not a pageant queen though. I’m not the face of the pageant system. I’m a bar queen, you know? I’ll be the face of the gay movement, but I’m not going to be competing in the system. I’m just not that polished, and I hate evening gowns, where you have to be all elegant and flutter around the room, like there are butterflies holding up your wrists. It’s just so not me. I like to party. I can’t do the fake smile thing.
What was it like when you first started out as a drag queen?
Trust me, for the first few years, I was not cute. I was what they call a “booger.” It was not cute. My makeup was a mess. I had no drag clothes. I had to find a piece at a time. And trust me, the first time you buy a bra as a dude, it’s scary. Now I don’t even react. I walk into Wal-Mart and get my bras and get my pantyhose.
What kind of outfits do you usually wear when you perform?
I dress very dark. A lot of fishnets and a lot of black. My business cards just say “Chastity Rose: Gothic Princess.” I’m trying to go with themes now. I’m trying to build up my favorite costume, which is based on the concept of a teddy bear. I was actually hand stitching at the bar during happy hour. It’s a pair of ears on this bandana thing and a baby-doll dress with like three hand-painted wooden bears on it. It’s got like a butt flap with a tail on it. And a jacket with cartoon bear paws on the shoulders. I was just inspired by the concept of having an outfit based on the teddy bear, and I just couldn’t help myself. I love themes.
What are your plans for the future?
Hopefully I’ll publish one of the writing projects I’m working on. I want to be a novelist. I have two books I’m almost done with. I really want to do the photography and the cover art for it and then hopefully someday get published. I’d take my beginning advance and hopefully try to promote myself across the United States and try to sell my book.
What type of books are you writing?
Sci-fi, fantasy, LGBT or something. I want my characters to be relatable to me. There’s going to be bisexuals, cross-dressers, gay individuals and, of course, werewolves.
Is there anything else you would like people to know?
If anyone wants to add me on Facebook, it’s “Chastity Rose.” I encourage people to add me on Facebook, because someday I want to be famous and get on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6 or 7—or maybe 8. When I’ve learned a few more things, you know.