Over the weekend, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Shannel was captured on video taking money from a purse during a show at the Señor Frogs restaurant and bar in Las Vegas. The now-deleted video was shared on TikTok and quickly went viral online.
The customer whose purse was taken by Shannel accused the queen of stealing $1,300 from her, even though the TikTok video only showed Shannel very quickly going through the belongings inside this woman’s purse.
Now, Shannel (out of drag as Bryan Watkins) has responded to these accusations with a 12-minute video on Instagram titled “In My Words.” The OG Drag Race alum explained:
“First and foremost, I want to apologize for the fact that this customer did not have a good time. I actually did not know it was her birthday. I wish I had, but I did not know that. That, in itself, is unfortunate – that she did not have a good or great birthday experience at all.”
“It’s happened for years in shows all over, where queens will grab a purse and run away with it. No intention of any ill is ever done with it, but there are just things and there are elements that happen in a show like that. Obviously, with this specific guest, this bit did not go over well at all.”
Shannel insists that she danced around with the attendee’s purse for just a few seconds and only took “a couple of dollars” from the bag. She then claims to have returned the bag to the table right in front of this woman. Alas, this was when Shannel noticed that the attendee looked upset.
The queen noted:
“I thought I heard her say, ‘You took all the money out of my purpose,’ and I was very upset with the interpretation of what was meant to be a comedic silly moment. I felt like my honesty was in question, when I knew I’d only taken a couple dollars out of the purse.”
What then followed was Shannel defensively making comments toward the attendee and throwing a $20 bill in her direction. The queen now realizes that her reaction helped escalate the situation even further.
“Later that afternoon, we did receive an email from her lawyer who said they wanted a total of $6,241.15, which included a full refund of the tickets as well as $5,000 in damages. In the email, they reduced the amount taken from her purse to $700 to $800 and the additional quote-unquote ‘damages’ included a cabana they reserved as the Aria Hotel.”
In an attempt to remedy the situation, Shannel and the team behind this show offered the attendee a full refund of her nine tickets (which amounts to $1,200) and an additional $700 “out of good faith for how the situation was handled.” The queen also offered to give her a personal apology. However, this attendee has declined this counteroffer.
As a result, Shannel claims to have been receiving homophobic attacks on social media and even death threats, noting: “All for something that was meant to be a laugh.”
“Strangers have been given the license to harass, bully, and threaten me, my coworkers, my friends, [and] my family. People are calling our office to scream ‘f*ggot’ at our reception in NYC. Many of our performers are even fearful about returning to their work schedules this week.”
Shannel disabled comments in her newly-posted Instagram video to avoid further harassment and problematic remarks. For now, though, this story is still developing.
RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race season two airs Fridays on VH1.