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Long Before ‘Drag Race,’ There Was Mr. Dan

Category: Fashion & Style,Lifestyle

“If there were an earthquake, you would die under a pile of old Spanish-style wooden chairs and tortilla chips from upstairs,” Ms. Beat said.

Despite that dire prediction, when Mr. Dan speaks of that sturdy post, he could just as easily be talking about himself. Since 1994, he has held up the 55-seat theater, one flight below Casita del Campo, a family-owned Mexican restaurant — and, in so doing, become practically as popular as his roster of stage performers.

“He’s an appealing, jovial host, and he has dirty jokes that he’s told for years,” said Lady Bunny, the veteran New York drag star, in a phone interview. “Performing at the Cavern Club just feels like home.”

Loyal crowds, sometimes peppered with such megawatt celebrities as Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli and Katy Perry, tend to agree. Ms. Midler, for instance, was observed taking in, and complimenting, the appealingly tragic stylings of the Seattle-based chanteuse Dina Martina.

“We’ve always tried to cultivate an audience that would appreciate our weird brand of drag,” Mr. Dan said.

The acts he chooses to showcase are not generally the glamour girls of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” although Alaska 5000, who won “Drag Race All-Stars,” did guest-star in an installment of “The Golden Girlz.” Instead, his headliners tend to be more outré artists like Ms. Pak-Man, who is a gonzo gamer queen, or the lovely Kay Sedia, who recently appeared in a “Juan woman cho,” as she spelled it.

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