FeaturesGayest & Greatest 2021

Gayest & Greatest 2021: Entertainment and Nightlife Part I

Queen Persephone reigns over the local drag scene.

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Queen Persephone (photos by Frank Hernandez for OutSmart magazine)

Most Devine Drag Queen

In Greek mythology, Persephone is queen of the underworld. And here in Houston, we have Queen Persephone, who rules the drag circuit as this year’s Most Divine Drag Queen.

Although Queen Persephone has been performing for just over four years, the 27-year-old says that she’s been interested in drag for most of her life. 

“I feel like I’ve always been interested in drag. I remember many summers when I would stay at home while my parents were gone to work. I’d put on my mom’s dresses and her shoes. I’d jam out to Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Shania Twain. That was my way of expressing myself as a young gay boy,” she says.

That interest in performing has continued to grow ever since, but it took a shakeup in her personal life to prompt the leap into the public spotlight. 

“The first time I considered doing drag was after a breakup. I texted a drag queen to see what I would look like with makeup. I went to her house, and she did my makeup. It was beautiful,” she recalls. “I felt like myself. I’ve always been an effeminate man, but being able to express myself in that mirror in that room, I felt a fire inside of me. I held onto that. I never let it go.”

Queen Persephone kept her drag alter ego hidden in the closet for a few years, even though she worked at bars like South Beach, JR’s Bar & Grill, and Boheme—all places where drag shows are often scheduled. It wasn’t until she started working at Hamburger Mary’s, a drag-queen-themed restaurant, that she first stepped out on the stage in heels.

“In August 2017, the restaurant held a turnabout show, and it was for all the employees who had never done drag before. There were 12 of us who competed. I am very competitive, and I took it very seriously,” she recalls. “I made a deal with myself that if I won, I would pursue a drag career. If I lost, I would let it go. Well, I won. It was a sold-out house. My whole family was there—my mom and stepdad, my grandmother, brother, sister, nieces, their friends. They were very supportive.”

The October 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine

After that emotional rush of commanding the crowd during a burlesque number she had rehearsed for weeks, there was no stopping her. “That was one of the best nights of my life. Standing on the stage, seeing everyone applaud for you. It’s a high you can’t get anywhere else,” she adds.

Since then, the blossoming queen was hired by Rice University and the University of Houston to host charity events, and she’s been booked at various pop-up events and parties. She has also worked in Austin and as a host for The Woodlands Pride during its first two years.

When she’s not busy dazzling crowds, Queen Persephone has her eyes set on earning a college degree. “Being young and pretty isn’t going to last forever,” she quips. She is currently a student at Houston Community College, and has plans to transfer to UH’s College of Technology in the spring.

Follow Queen Persephone on Instagram at PersephoneQueenXO.


ENTERTAINMENT & NIGHTLIFE PART I

Most Divine Drag Queen

Queen Persephone 
Finalists: Blackberri, Chloe Crawford-Ross, Angelina DM Trailz, Nyx Laraye, Dessie Love-Blake, Alexye’us Paris, Violet S’Arbleu

Favorite Drag King

Hugh Dandy
Finalists: Damien, Preston Steamed, Ian Syder-Blake  

Favorite Drag-Show Host/Emcee

Blackberri
Finalists: Kofi, Dessie Love-Blake, Violet S’Arbleu, Ian Syder-Blake, Muffy Vanderbilt

Best New Rising-Star Drag King or Queen

Brixlee Coven
Finalists: Kale A’Lily, Sir Debon Aire, Jewel, Preston Steamed 

Favorite Local (Non-Drag) Female Entertainer

Wendy Taylor
Finalists: Brie Kinsey, Morena Roas, Lauren Salazar, Christina Wells

Favorite Local (Non-Drag) Male Entertainer

Wesley Whitson
Finalists: Michael Chiavone, Ty Frazier, Sebastian Gutierrez, Travis Webb

Favorite Local (Non-Drag) Nonbinary Entertainer

Nina Lombardo
Finalists: Attxla, Stoo

Favorite Wine Bar

Max’s Wine Dive
Finalists: 13 Celsius, Bar Boheme, Postino Montrose

Best Drag-Show Bar

Hamburger Mary’s (tie), ReBar (tie)
Finalists: JR’s Bar & Grill, Michael’s Outpost, Pearl Bar, Rumors Beach Bar

Favorite Bar to Shoot Pool

George
Finalists: Barcode Houston, BUDDY’S, Ripcord, Tony’s Corner Pocket

Favorite Bar to Two-Step

Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon

Favorite Club For Dancing

Numbers Night Club
Finalists: Eagle Houston, Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, Pearl Bar, ReBar


For a full list of winners, go here.

This article appears in the October 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Sam Byrd

Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to Outsmart who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture. Speaking of Houston, he's never heard a Whitney Houston song he didn't like.
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