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Galveston Girl

Transgender drag star Symphony McKnight Capri pays tribute to her Island roots.

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Symphony McKnight Capri performs at Hamburger Mary’s on Sundays.

There is more to Symphony McKnight Capri than meets the eye.

The veteran entertainer, known as “Da Eyez of Galveston,” is also a savvy business owner who parlayed her flood insurance payout from Hurricane Ike into a career as an entrepreneur.

“I lost everything I owned,” she says, recalling the deadly 2008 storm that devastated Galveston and parts of Houston. “The money I got, I invested into myself.”

Building on her experience as an aide in the nursing field, Capri now has two four-bed personal-care facilities that are located in Houston and Rosenberg.

Her own home in Cypress is a warehouse for crowns and sashes from a zillion drag competitions, including her current reign as Miss Texas Continental Plus.

Capri performs in the cast of Hamburger Mary’s Saturday brunch shows at noon and 3 p.m., as well as that popular eatery’s “Fire and Desire” show on Sundays at 8 p.m.

“Once or twice a month, I am in the Friday-night cabaret at Michael’s Outpost, and I travel every month to Club 212 in Amarillo,” she says.

Capri was 14 and a student at Ball High School in Galveston when she started performing in drag. “I wasn’t even supposed to be in the club, but I have always been mature,” she says. “I am not one to attract attention to myself. I didn’t drink because I was underage. I still don’t drink unless it’s after my show.”

Photo by Michael Andrew Voight

Offstage, Capri admits that she’s a loner. “When I do have time for myself, I like swimming. I like movies. I keep to myself, but I can also be flirty.”

About two years ago, Capri found a lawyer in Austin who helped her handle the legal process of changing her name and the gender on her birth certificate.

“I identify as female,” she says. “I go to work as a woman. I have an everyday look. I live my life cautiously and try not to stop and get gas late at night. You have to be careful. The next person you meet could want to hurt you, or they could be someone who wants to love you forever.”

As a “true drag performer,” Capri says, “I can take a slow number and make it look amazing. I can do ‘Over the Rainbow’ by Patti LaBelle and make you believe. I’m a talent girl. I can be losing a pageant, then I will pull out a talent that will have you amazed.”

At the end of June, Capri returned to Galveston to pay tribute to the late Jesse Garza, who owned Garza’s Kon Tiki nightclub on the island.

Garza, who died in 2006, “was one-of-a-kind,” says Capri. “He truly taught me how to be a showgirl. He told me to stay up on my words and to ‘make love’ to people by giving them a lovely stage presence. He taught me to be beautiful and glamorous and captivating.”

For more on Capri, go to facebook.com/DaEyezOfGalv

This article appears in the July 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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