CT Hedden is a popular drag performer in New York City who was hired to do a pop-up event at Soho House in Miami this summer by Milan Kelez, the owner of the popular West Village Peruvian hot spot Baby Brasa. Unfortunately, things went sour from there.
The performer, who is also a manager at Indochine and a host at Gitano, told Page Six that shortly after he was hired, Baby Brasa’s owner canceled the gig out of fear that there would be "too many trans people" at the event.
"He texted me the day before saying he was canceling me because he heard I was bringing drag queens and a bunch of 'tra**ys,' and it wasn’t Soho House’s aesthetic," he told Page Six. "He used the slur multiple times. And not that it matters, but I was bringing 'Housewives' from New York and Miami."
He also shared the text messages he got from Kelez, which reads: "Someone run [sic] into some tra**ies last night in NY and they said they where [sic] coming to the event. We can’t have a flock of drag...I’m afraid the Soho House identity/DNA is not right for it. Luann [De Lesseps] is the only housewife we see...Looks like we have to cancel the list altogether."
Now Hedden wants to boycott the business.
Kelez has denied the allegations. "We pride ourselves in being able to give work to a constant rotation of artists from all walks of life," he told Page Six. "CT’s attempts at defamation and the hate and harassment on his part — from social media to bringing this to you — at this point is beyond my comprehension."
He also said he has a lot of transgender friends. "My best friends are transgender," he said. "The words I used in the text, I have learned to be very careful in my choice when expressing myself today in 2021 — very different from 1998 when I arrived in this country to speak English full time."
However, others who have worked for Kelez say that he created a toxic work environment where he failed to pay employees and encouraged them to "dress slutty."
"It’s like working on a porn set, not a restaurant," a former employee said. "They would pay for our gym memberships because they wanted us to look as hot as possible. And they were always encouraging us to bring hot friends with good bodies."
Others said that they had to threaten to go to court to get paid.
Kelez said these allegations are also untrue. "Not sure what you heard, but rest assured we continue employing the New York nightlife musicians and performers, all paid and well-fed with savory Peruvian chicken!"