Paparazzi Nightclub was once considered the centre of the queer community in Victoria, but in the last few years, some say that the club has changed and is no longer what it once was to its 2SLGBTQIA+ patrons.
On Tuesday, May 16th, Victoria Buzz published an article regarding the shift in demographic at the nightclub.
According to ex-employees and long-time patrons, the club has allegedly changed from a ‘gay bar’ to a space that wanted to be more all-inclusive and make way for all patrons.
Following the article being published, according to its sources, they were either fired from Paparazzi, banned, or both.
Most recently, the organizer of Paparazzi’s last remaining weekly queer programming, Drag Sunday, decided it’s time to retire the weekly celebration that has been going on for the last five and a half years.
Shelita Cox announced in a heartfelt video that she had come to the bittersweet conclusion that the show has served her and the community well for over five years and that the time to move on is now.
Cox told Victoria Buzz that ending her weekly drag show was her own decision and was not one that was forced upon her by Paparazzi’s ownership and management.
“The bar actually really wanted to hold on to the weekly drag show,” said Cox. “With the article and everything else and the demographic change at the bar, I’ve just been feeling really defeated with the community and the response and how they’ve interacted with all this ongoing dialogue.”
“It’s just put me in a really awkward position where I’m the one with all the puzzle pieces that needs to make everyone happy and I’ve been doing that for five and a half years.”
Cox says that Paparazzi has been putting in the work to become a safer space for its patrons by working with Good Night Out Victoria as well as getting better policies and doing sensitivity training.
“They’ve been working really hard to try to keep their roots as a gay bar,” Cox told Victoria Buzz. “They’re like, ‘we know our demographic has changed so Sundays are our one night where we are showing off what our history is as a bar.’”
Ultimately, Paparazzi’s management team was sympathetic to Cox and understood that she had decided to end her weekly production, according to Cox.
“Paparazzi continues to schedule shows, and programming,” Paparazzi told Victoria Buzz when asked if they were going to put on another weekly queer show.
“Paparazzi will continue to welcome everyone into our venue as we have been for the last 16 years.”
The nightclub also stated that Shelita Cox will always be welcome to produce one-off shows at the club if she should choose to do so in the future.
June 4th was the last Drag Sunday at the club.
Paparazzi says that they have a big announcement regarding their involvement in Pride this year; however, the Victoria Pride Society’s parade coordinator told Victoria Buzz Paparazzi has not applied to be in the 2023 Pride Parade and the deadline was months ago.
Although unfortunate, the ending of Drag Sundays at Paparazzi is far from the end of Shelita Cox’s drag endeavours in Victoria.
“I’m still going to be a drag performer, I’m still going to produce shows,” Cox said.
She still holds a monthly show at the Vicious Poodle called ‘SPCGAY’ and she is putting together an all-drag performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show for October.
Cox is also the official emcee of the Annual Memorial Dragball Game which takes place on July 1st in Vic West Park to honour the lives lost in the gay community to HIV/AIDS.
The drag queen told Victoria Buzz that she has toyed with the idea of putting on Drag Sunday at some other space in the future, but now is not the best time for her to do so.
“There has been minimal discussion with a few bars about maybe adopting Drag Sunday, but nothing quite through to fruition yet,” Cox explained.
“I feel with so many events leading up to Pride season, it might be nice to just have a rest.”