Drag superstar Trixie Mattel isn’t ready to see her favorite gay bar shut down like so many others have done during the pandemic, so she did what anyone would do: became the bar’s co-owner.
Mattel, who won RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars in 2018, says This Is It!, which opened back in 1968, was the first gay bar she visited after turning 21. Now she’s helping it to stay open by becoming a co-owner when it’s harder and harder for gay bars given the pandemic.
“A lot of drag queens made This Is It! our happy hour moment before we had to put on the wig and go do the drag show,” Mattel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “My relationship is such that sometimes I will come from General Mitchell [Airport] to the bar with my bags… it really is like Cheers in Milwaukee. I met some of my lifelong best friends there."
Mattel’s new business partner and co-owner of the bar is George Schneider, who’s been the owner for some time now. Schneider can’t wait to see what Mattel brings to the table.
“It will elevate the bar’s recognition on a larger sale, and even for people here locally,” he said. “Trixie has roots here in Wisconsin, and made good on all of her talent and ability, and still recognized the value not just of her hometown, but the places she holds close that are also near and dear to their hearts.”
This Is It! is the oldest still running gay bar in Wisconsin and one of the oldest in the US. The bar’s original owners, June Brehm and her son Joseph were recognized by Senator Tammy Baldwin for their contributions to Wisconsin LGBTQ+ history, and the bar became the first permanent public display location for the Wisconsin LBGTQ History Project. The bar features a wall covered in printed panels that talk about the city and state’s LGBTQ+ history.
The queen says she hopes her name will draw in a crown, saying, “if somebody goes to Milwaukee they may go, ‘Oh my god, doesn’t Trixie Mattel have a bar there? We have to go.’”
While she’s having a lot of fun with her new business venture, Mattel also knows how important the bar and others like it are. “In 2020,” she said, “it’s been thrown in our faces that queer spaces can disappear like that. And it really makes you think this is a really valuable service they are providing, not just to the community, but to humanity. People need this. They really do."
This is just the latest in the drag mogul's growing empire. After Drag Race she's built an empire that includes a show with Netflix, a bustling YouTube channel, in addition to her show and book with Katya Zamolodchikova. She was also just nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for her country music album Barbara.