Charlotte is blessed to have a vibrant and growing drag community full of many types of queens — camp queens, beauty queens, bearded queens, new and old queens too. Of course, the true test of a queen is whether they can stand out, entertain and keep standing in those heels for the long run. This column features one of the newer queens to the Queen City who has taken the scene by storm since she arrived — Shelita Bonet Hoyle.
Shelita and I met to do her interview at one of my favorite places called McKoy’s Smokehouse & Saloon. You know, that’s the type of place where butch drag queens go to eat. She and I felt right at home there as we started talking. My first question, “Where did Shelita come from?”
“I actually started as a joke. My original drag persona was a funny, fiery redhead, Southern housewife named Shelita Hoyle Buffet. (Pronounced as ‘she’ll eat a whole buffet’).”
Shelita and I laughed as she continued: “I had pledged my fraternity at Appalachian State and my best friend Charlie wanted me to do something ‘super gay.’ She convinced me to do the amateur drag show contest on campus. I never wanted to do drag — in my eyes it was a gay stereotype. But she convinced me to do it .”
Shelita paused for a moment. “But before I got the chance to compete, Charlie was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident. After that, I felt like I needed to do the drag show in honor of her too.” Shelita smiled as she remembered Charlie. “And I didn’t even win the amateur drag show. I got third. But I went back again the next year. I never won, but I made people laugh and I loved that. Charlie was known for making everyone laugh, her hugs and cupcakes too, so it filled that missing piece for me with Charlie at the time.”
Wow. It didn’t take long. But I quickly learned that Shelita and I personally have a lot in common. Shelita was in a fraternity in college. She and I have also lost a loved one dear to us from a drunk driver. She and I both started drag under a guise of being a funny queen. We both like to make people laugh. And, she likes to eat too. Her original name was even “buffet!” Oh my god. Twinsies!
Shelita went on to talk about how she moved on from the drag show contest on campus after a few years of competing and never winning. But then she found Club Cabaret in Hickory an hour away from campus where she did the bar talent show and won. “I consider that to be the birth of Shelita actually — Dec. 1, 2011.“
“The first song I ever did was ‘show me your pussy’ mixed with Margaret Cho. I got to know the bar staff at Cabaret after performing the talent show. I didn’t even have a pair of eyelashes, that’s how elementary I was. Then I started meeting people who helped me,” Shelita said.
Shelita’s drag family is “complicated” as she puts it. Her original drag father is DJ Bonet who works behind the scenes doing a lot for her — stoning, djing, hair and makeup. “Then we graciously welcomed Baby Valentino Knight Adams into our family because DJ Bonet and him became a couple. It was like it was meant to be. And recently I became a drag daughter of Paisley Parque who I look up to and look for advice. We truly are a family. I talk to my drag family more than my biological family. Family is so important for all of us, especially in the gay community.”
A lot has changed for Shelita since that December. She currently holds the title of Miss Charlotte Pride, which she won six months ago, and she previously had won the titles of Miss NC Unlimited Newcomer, Miss Unlimited Newcomer and Miss Gay North Carolina USofA at Large.
“As Miss Charlotte Pride, I believe in community and giving back to the community. I have been to every major Pride in North Carolina. I think it is real important that LGBTQ young people especially have that family to turn to, have those positive role models to look up to, so I also volunteer regularly with Time Out Youth. If I had half of their strength and bravery, I am so impressed by these young people.“
For just over a year now, already Shelita has done a lot in the City of Charlotte. She can be found hosting and performing at local bars like Chasers Nightclub plus she supports many of the local drag entertainers.
“In my mind I was going to move to Charlotte, fall madly in love and it was going to be happily ever after. I wanted to experience a city that had culture, where drag could be a staple in the community. That’s what brought me to Charlotte — and what better place to be a queen at then in the Queen City, right?”
Keep your eyes out for Shelita. The next items on her “to do list,” as she calls it, is winning North Carolina Entertainer of the Year and Miss North Carolina Gay America. She may need another year to check those off.
Until then, give her a bag of Cheetos or a Snickers bar! She’s hungry and full of Pride!
DRAG TIP: Shelita’s drag tip is “Whether there is one person or one thousand, always put on a show!”
SHOUT OUTS: Don’t forget Buff Faye’s Xtreme Drag Makeover Brunch at Pure Pizza on Saturday, Jan. 14 benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Call for reservations 980-430-1701. Seating is limited.
info: Buff Faye calls the Queen City her home and loves men who cook dessert (plus she loves to raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hot spots. And don’t forget her monthly Saturday night shows, Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye