With death drops and dumplings, Chicago entertainers slay at Dim Sum & Drag Brunch


Nixie Strazza/The Daily Northwestern

Host Abhijeet addresses the crowd at Dim Sum & Drag, an event presented by LGBTQ+ nightlife collective A Queer Pride.

Nixie Strazza, Reporter

Once a month, the dining room of Furama Chicago transforms from a traditional dim sum restaurant into a stage fit for kings and queens.

The Dim Sum & Drag Brunch is presented by LGBTQ+ nightlife collective A Queer Pride and run by local drag queen Abhijeet. The popular event supports the careers of up-and-coming Asian performers and shows off the city’s multiethnic arts scene.  

Since Dim Sum & Drag premiered in June 2021, every show at the family-owned business has sold out. The next performance will take place on Feb. 26. 

Abhijeet said Dim Sum & Drag was inspired by her desire to expand the typical drag lineup beyond cis, white men. Mainstream drag often includes just one Asian artist in a show, Abhijeet said. For Dim Sum & Drag Brunch, instead of featuring a token Asian performer, Abhijeet wanted “all of them.” 

She wanted to create a space for Asian artists to produce work that is culturally important to them especially in the wake of the pandemic.

 “You often lose track of the diversity of the performance scene of a city if it is not thrust in your face,” Abhijeet said. 

Clad in thigh-high boots and an M&M mini dress, Abhijeet opened the Jan. 22 show with humor and a cry for tequila shots. Audience members dined on a buffet of Chinese and Cantonese cuisine while enjoying burlesque dance routines, lip-synced show tunes and an interactive Electric Slide. 

The most recent show included performances from drag queens Calamity Addams and Maja Jera , Alex Jenny, Mac K. Roni, K’hole Kardashian and Ms. B LaRose. Queens collected cash tips offered by the audience mid drop-squat and accepted Venmo payments.

DJ Kevin Chow, known onstage as Club Chow, said the luncheon environment creates a comfortable space to experience drag and queer culture for the first time, especially for young people exploring their sexuality.  

Now participating in the event for the seventh time, Chow said he highlights songs by Asian and Asian American artists in his sets, including old Hong Kong songs and Canto-Pop remixes. 

International burlesque performer Ms. B LaRose is a veteran at Dim Sum & Drag and has performed in the event since it began.

“I didn’t realize there were Asian and Pacific Islanders in this city like myself,” LaRose said. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to perform in that space. It’s like going to church.”

Captivated by a 2015 burlesque show, LaRose quit her corporate job in Kansas City, Missouri to pursue a career in dance. Without any prior experience, LaRose made their way from usher to stage kitten to full-fledged performer. 

The name Ms. B LaRose is a combination of LaRose’s worker “B” mantra and an homage to her immigrant parents and grandmother Rosemary. 

“When I hold that name and put it on stage, I just want to make her proud,” LaRose said. 

For Chow, each show is an opportunity to combat stigma surrounding queerness in Asian communities and make drag more inclusive. He calls the artists at Dim Sum & Drag family.

As a performer who felt isolated by his cultural identity when he first began making music in 2015, Chow said he is delighted to see space held for queer and Asian creatives.

“People want to have someone iconic they can stan,” Chow said. “Dim Sum & Drag allows you to find that and have that experience with someone who looks like you.” 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @NixieStrazza

Related Stories: 

‘Drag Race’ stars Shea Couleé and Alyssa Edwards serve charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent in A&O Productions’ first-ever drag show speaker event

Local business owner Dexin Tan explores Asian fusion at Little Wok

Queer Creativity