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NYC Bar Owner Responds to Racism Controversy That Made Drag Queen Publicly Quit

Honey Davenport, The Monster Bar, New York City, Mitch Ferrino, Italo Lopez, Charlie Rice

“It’s a smear campaign by a disgruntled employee.”

During the massively queer celebration of the New York edition of this year's RuPaul's Drag Con, the city was given a frigid reminder that even inclusion-preaching groups like the LGBTQ community are still prone to the toxic pervasiveness of racism.

After being shown a series of text messages asking for a poster for a party at The Monster Bar in NYC's Greenwich Village to be changed due to worry that it looked like they were promoting a "black" night, drag queen Honey Davenport, who had a weekly gig at the bar, publicly called out the space's management.

"I cannot be a part of this anymore," said Davenport while on stage at The Monster during her usual Saturday night show. "If you don't want my people at the party, I won't be here."

Though the manager who sent the texts, Italo Lopez, has since resigned, the bar's owner is now giving his side of the story.

Related | Drag Queens Protest Racism at Popular New York Gay Bar

"The straight scoop is it's a smear campaign by a disgruntled employee - Mitch Ferrino - who had an axe to grind with my manager Italo," Charlie Rice told New Now Next. "They I gave Mitch a platform to become a DJ, and Honey Davenport, as well, but Mitch Ferrino is a self-admitted burned-out bartender and his identity is blurred with the identity of the business... His is a personal grudge against leadership. I am beside myself over the fact that this guy is taking me to task because we had butted heads - primarily Italo had. Now he's trying to assassinate my character."

Rice went on to blame Lopez's word choice on a language barrier. "He doesn't have the best command of the language. He's an immigrant. It was a setup. There was no problem before with our black host, but because Italo didn't have the right command of the language, Mitch took it and ran because he had an axe to grind," he said.

For her part, Honey Davenport agreed with Rice's public statement about "using it as a teaching moment, admitting mistakes, and encouraging growth" and invited Rice to a moderated conversation where they could discuss moving forward. Rice said he didn't want to have any sort of public discussion until he finished the racial sensitivity training he said he and his staff would undergo. Read Rice's full conversation with New Now Next, here.

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